Since its official unveil, never once did Child of Eden become something other than one of my most anticipated titles of the year. Despite not receiving enough promotion from publisher Ubisoft, and being released at a time when gamers are already thinking about what the Fall season will bring, this psychedelic rhythm rail shooter from Q Entertainment’s famed game designer Tetsuya Mizuguchi - the man behind Space Channel 5, REZ and Lumines - deserves your attention, love and care.
Whether one or all three games I’ve just enumerated occupy a special place in your heart or not, there’s no reason why this new venture should be skipped. Now, if your eyes and ears have never been exposed to Mizuguchi’s genius before, the time has come.
Ever played a something whose gameplay is so compelling that you wouldn’t care for its story in the slightest? Well, this is true for Child of Eden. The premise doesn’t make much sense really, but here it goes, just in case: A girl named Lumi, who spent her life in outer space after being born there, dreams of coming to Earth, but has never managed to. When she passed away, her memories were recorded and stored in five data archives: Matrix, Passion, Evolution, Beauty and Journey. Several years later, scientists launched Project Lumi with the willingness to recreate her persona within a place called Eden (i.e the Internet). Unfortunately, a virus threatens to mess up with the project. This is where you come in.
With a simple reticle and two attacks (a lock-on and a rapid-fire attack), you’ll be “purifying” these viruses to the sounds of trance music. Each attack also emanates a sound that accompanies the music played in the background. Once in a while, orb-like support items - one that replenishes your life meter, the other grants you a smart-bomb like power called Euphoria - will appear during your purifying session to help you survive. At the end of the level, you’ll face a boss, and once beaten, the results screen will appear, detailing and rating your performance based on your multipliers, enemies purified and completion time. In order to have access to the next data archive, a certain number of stars, which are awarded based on your overall score, must be achieved. If the number of stars required by each level isn’t attained, go back to a previously cleansed environment to improve your score and earn more stars.
All five levels are different from one another, each having its own distinctive music, visual theme and multi-layered boss. They aren’t terribly long either (approx. 10 minutes each, based upon your skill). If skilled, the game could be completed in less than two hours. A sacrilege in terms of replay value for some. However, Child of Eden is far from being predictable as levels change depending on your last saved performance. Once all five levels are completed, a challenge stage (Hope) will be waiting. Child of Eden also supports Kinect on top of the regular controller. If you own the sensor, playing and replaying the whole game with your arms enhances the experience even more. Since the game was built for Kinect, the implemented body-recognition system is flawless, which is a rarity among the current Kinect titles. It will require some patience at first but once you get it, suddenly Eden won’t be the same. In the end, whether you have Kinect or not, Mizuguchi’s chef d’oeuvre will be hard to ignore after that very first level. The catchy music, the immersion level, the extra unlockable goodies...not to mention seeing your friends achieve greater purification levels via the online leaderboards, which pushed me to improve my own performance over and over again.
Child of Eden may be one of the best games I’ve played so far this year, but that doesn’t mean it’s for everyone. Even though this review tries to summarize it as well as possible, the ultimate challenge will be to give it a shot yourself. But trust me, if your looking for the next “cool” thing to play, this is it.
As mentioned earlier on, Child of Eden isn’t about getting immersed in a story. Here, its all about the gameplay delivered as a multi-sensory experience like few others can deliver. Being a gamer of the Dreamcast generation, Space Channel 5 and REZ (my favorite, which by the way, an HD version can be downloaded on Xbox Live Arcade) made a huge impact on me. Blazing through Mizuguchi’s latest creation led me to solidify my stand on the current state of gaming. We need more original tiles and less sequels and clones. Innovation is out there and more developers - like Mizuguchi - should embrace it.
Release date : 2011-06-14
Publisher : Ubisoft
Developer : Q Entertainment
Gameplay : Shooter
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