“Are games art?”, and “are motion controls really the future?” are two very controversial questions in the arena of gaming. Is it possible to play art? Are motion controls hindering, or helping the natural progression of gaming?
After nearly ten years of waiting, the follow up to Rez is finally here – and it answers both of these questions in a pretty big way.
Child of Eden is an on-rails shooter in the same vein as Panzer Dragoon, or, as previously mentioned, Rez. The story is a bit inconsequential – you’re tasked with bringing a beloved icon named Lumi back to life by traveling through the internet, extinguishing viruses that would threaten her digital imprint. When I say “beloved”, think Bill and Ted beloved, given their future timeline, where they’re basically credited with world peace – she’s kind of a big deal.
As you make your way through the game’s levels (called archives), you’ll encounter five different themes, spread out across various feelings and states of being, such as Evolution, and Passion. Along the way, you’ll encounter boss fights, and waves of enemies just like you would in any other shoot ‘em up. While on paper it sounds like something you’ve played before, in practice, it’s really something you need to see to appreciate. Words cannot describe the feeling you get when you feel like you’re actually building a world; blossoming plants with your hands, and conducting a symphony of raindrops along a landscape.
Eden’s neon graphical style projects each of these emotions in a way only the most talented of game designers could convey (hats off to Tetsuya Mizuguchi), and the soundtrack is equally impressive to boot. Like Rez, the game’s sound effects and music match up to your actions, which makes you feel like you’re actually conducting the game. The soundtrack ranges from industrial bass bumping electronica, to uplifting trance, compliments of Lumi. As you progress through each level, the score will heighten, added an increased sense of urgency to the game that’s unmatched.
So how do you actually manage all this madness? Thankfully, Eden offers a choice of the following three control methods:
A) Kinect: Your right hand controls the lock on ability, and your left hand is rapid fire
B) Kinect: One hand controls either weapon; clapping your hands to switch between them
C) A traditional Xbox 360 controller
Out of three, I heartily recommend type “A”: it’s tons of fun, and given the near perfect 1:1 control of Kinect, it’s also the most precise. Your lock on weapon (the Octo-Lock) allows you to lock onto eight enemies at a time, then thrust your hand forward to unleash the salvo. Your rapid fire tracer weapon will come in handy when deflecting enemy fire – as it’s the only way to stop your foe’s purple attack bullets. Each enemy in the game has a weakness to each bullet, and it’s your job to micro-manage which hand to use – it’s all part of the learning curve, and thankfully, it doesn’t take too long to pick up – although it does take time to master.
You’ll pick up the most points by using your Octo-Lock in time with the music, but, as previously mentioned, you do need your tracer fire quite frequently, which helps add an extra layer of strategy to a game that would seem like a mindless shooter at first glance. Your only other weapon is the limited Euphoria bomb, which destroys everything on screen – you activate these by raising your hands above your head – which thankfully, is just as simple as the rest of the game’s Kinect controls.
So what’s the bad news? The game’s five archives will only last you around three hours: from start to finish. That is, if you don’t engage in any of the game’s extra content, including an art galleries, videos, filters, and an added survival mode.
While this may seem short, I personally plan to go through the entire game again on a higher difficulty, and play the survival mode a few times; all of which will probably bump my week one playtime up to about ten hours (plus, I plan on playing Eden much more in the future). In short, it’s up to you whether or not $50 is worth around ten hours of your time. Eden also offers leaderboards, some tough achievements, and an added difficulty (as well as an invincible mode), so you’re bound to find something.
Despite it’s short length, many games strive to offer an experience on top of gameplay, but Child of Eden comes from left field to smash it’s competition into next year. With a striking marriage of motion controls and sensory overloads, Eden is a must have title in the Kinect library.
Child of Eden, simply put, is a triumph - it's playable art.
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The fact that Eden lets you choose between motion and tactile controls is a godsend - take note, developers!
Eden's quality visuals are only matched by it's audio - the highs and lows will make you want to grab the nicest pair of headphones you can find.
Unfortunately, Eden won't last long if you don't buy into topping your previous high scores, and learning every facet of the game.
While Child of Eden's appeal may not be universal, those with an open mind will have a blast.