Child of Eden Review
The internet is now Eden? Or something?
The Kinect lineup is heavy with dance, sport and fitness games. Child of Eden is none of these, that’s for sure. There has been a lot of hype around this game, but what exactly is it? Put simply, Child of Eden is a rail shooter built specifically for the Kinect sensor. I know that may be hard to tell from some of the screenshots but, I assure you, that’s what it is. Ubisoft is going out on a limb with Child of Eden both in genre and visual style when considering the current Kinect lineup. The soundtrack and visuals are certainly striking but is there a game in here somewhere?
In a game with such stunning visuals, the opening is somewhat stunted by the fact that the story is explained in multiple screens of text. These are followed by a beautiful, but abstract video of a girl, some flowers and some raindrops. It’s very nice but does nothing further for the story. I’ll let you read about the story yourself when you play the game because it has little to do with what is actually happening on screen. Basically you are in the internet, which is now called Eden, and you have to kill parts of a virus that is threatening Lumi, a girl whose consciousness exists only on Eden. The environments and enemies are all represented by different forms of light and geometric or abstract shapes.
So, how does it work? You will move through the space of Eden automatically and enemies will appear on screen. Your right hand is a lock-on laser, you highlight enemies then make a straight punching motion to destroy the highlighted targets. Your left hand directs a full auto, purple, pulse laser, it fires automatically when you have your left hand up. Some targets need to be attacked specifically with the auto laser and those will be colored purple. Sometimes you will need to use the auto laser to clear objects away from a target then lock on with the lock-on laser to destroy it. This is about as deep as the game goes. Enemies or targets aren’t standard shapes or sprites, which sounds great for variety’s sake, but in practice it doesn’t really work. Eventually your play will degenerate into waving the lock-on laser around until it highlights anything, then firing.
If you lock on to the maximum number of enemies, eight I think, it was honestly hard to tell, you will get a score bonus. Boss fights offer a bit of a strategic change as you’ll fly around them and attack from different angles, but again the mystery is gone when you just wave the lock-on laser around until it picks up something. Sound is a big component of Child of Eden and I found the soundtrack just feels right for the moment. It’s not the kind of music I’m into but it really does feel designed for the situation, the beat seems to drive you along and you find yourself firing in time with it. It’s a strange immersion that you won’t get with any other game but it’s lost the second the background and enemies change as you’re back to tracking random objects to find out which one is a target. A major issue is the amount of content, the game only has five levels. Each level is about 15-20 minutes long. You are scored so you can go back and play for a higher score or percentage of infection killed but there isn’t much reason to go back.
There is no multiplayer in Child of Eden. With so little content, a bit of co-op would have gone a long way to extending the experience.
Nearly all of the achievements in Child of Eden are secret so I won’t give them away but most are X points in each level. Why that’s a secret, i’m not sure.
I’m going to have people telling me I “don’t get it” or I didn’t appreciate the combination of art and sound or other things along these lines, that’s ok. I want those people to know that I do get it. This is a fantastic looking game, the best visuals in a Kinect game by miles and it might be one of the best looking titles on the Xbox 360. It is innovative and definitely the most unique Kinect game yet. Unfortunately there isn’t much of a game here, therefore your average gamer will be disappointed. I can tell Child of Eden will have a cult following and probably a strong one but you may want to try this one before you buy it.