Review: Child of Eden
It’s been a long time coming, but we finally have our very first Kinect review title. There were a few factors as to why it took us so long; the first being that none of us here on staff had found software compelling enough to merit a purchase. And the second, we knew that if and when we’d start checking out titles, the first one was probably going to be Q-Entertainment and Ubisoft’s Child of Eden. So was it worth the wait?
Since its announcement demo at E3 over a year ago, Child of Eden, director Tetsuya Mizuguchi’s spiritual prequel to Rez has felt as though it has followed us at every turn. And not just at any turn, but in the most unlikely of places, such as during industry parties at nightclubs and the like. I never understood the connection between the two, but now, after having it all to myself, I finally do. Just like the “Jersey Shore” nightclubs the Ubisoft parties were thrown in, this title is all about the music.
Like Rez that came before it, what you’ll instantly enjoy with Child of Eden is the music. During one of my initial playthroughs, I can remember the point during the tutorial level where the bass just starts to kick in and, in turn, my 26-year old knees started rocking ever so slowly. Then as things started to pick up musically, I’d be lying if I said i wasn’t bouncing along to the rhythm — whether I wanted to or not. There are only a handful of games out there whose score can grab hold to the player, and Child of Eden is certainly near the top of that list.
The game’s story, while creative, seems like a bit much considering what the game actually is, but fans of Rez will probably enjoy it as it is a precursor to the events that happened in that title. The main story revolves around saving “Lumi” who is under attack of a virus, and think computers and the internet, not influeza or anything like that. So save Lumi and you save Eden (which is actually the internet of the future). If you save Eden, well then you’ve laid down the foundation for Rez. Still with me? That’s the gist of the story, but honestly it becomes quickly forgettable as soon as you actually start playing.
I’m sure by now you’ve seen the footage of folks playing the title, and yes, it does make you look just as dorky as most Kinect titles do to people who are just watching. However, once you start playing it, you’ll instantly get sucked in. While it’s not the most challenging game out there, some may find it to be a little too easy. However, it’s still entertaining the whole way through – while it lasts that is.
There’s no getting around this one. This game is incredibly short. And with most retailers listing it at around 40 bucks at the time of this review, I have to say that it’s about par with what you get here. Not saying it’s “download title” short, but it does tip-toe a very fine line of “worthy of retail,” and that’s not based on quality but on length alone. It may very well be a nitpick, especially when you consider the kind of game it is, because, let’s be honest, how long could they really stretch this out for? On the other hand, paying any more than the 40 greenbacks it’s going for, I think any self respecting gamer may feel cheated.
Gameplay is by far the biggest reason to check this one out. Call it accessible, call it casual, but another adjective to describe the style of play is fun. A couple of titles I compared it to over my play time were iOS titles like Fruit Ninja or Angry Birds because of the addictive nature of the repetitive gameplay. In Child of Eden, you’re constantly tyring to become more and more efficient along your way. Even when a boss battle may knock you down and back to the beginning of the level (which the lack of checkpoints drove me absolutely nuts by the way), you still want to get right back in there to try again.
As far as the audio and video is concerned, this is definitely among the short list of Kinect titles you’ll actually want to show off. Visually, the game is gorgeous – giving you a Tron-inspired, watercolor in space-like feel you really don’t see anywhere in games these days. It’s a real welcome change of atmosphere, especially when it feels like every game released lately is nothing but shades of greys and browns. The game’s audio packs enough punch to make sweet love to your 5.1 setup, or at least make you want to pony up for one if you don’t already own one.
I went it into this review fully knowing what I was to expect, especially considering how many times I got a chance to play the title over the last six months. What I didn’t know was just how much I was going to enjoy it once I had the whole thing to myself. The combination of Mizuguchi’s vision and the Kinect’s unique motion controller make a compelling argument for anyone on the fence about picking up Microsoft’s peripheral. While it may not have the “killer app” appeal of a certain Harmonix dancing game, it’s still something that every Kinect owner should at least try.