When Child of Eden for the Xbox 360 Kinect arrived at my home office, I wondered what this game was all about. There was virtually no hoopla surrounding the release, and prior to receiving the game I literally heard nothing about this title. I have to be honest this always has me a little concerned as the conspiracy theorist in me tends to believe the game must be a stinker if the Publishers are keeping it quiet. Well much to my surprise Child of Eden isn’t bad little game for the Kinect at all; but it is not a great one either.
Child of Eden was built for the Kinect and is advertised as a musical game. That said, Child of Eden has shooter, puzzle and musical elements all rolled into one, making it the most unique gaming experience on the Kinect to date. Child of Eden is a difficult game to define as it does not fit into any one category and let’s face it Child of Eden isn’t exactly a sexy title either. What it is however is a game that is challenging, it will test your patience, surprisingly addictive and an experience all of its own. But it is not for everyone and frankly despite its many positive traits, this game will be collecting dust in my Xbox 360 collection in no time. Before I go any further, let me give you a bit of background in terms of the games storyline.
Well there isn’t much of a storyline here but it has one nonetheless. Those of you that have played Rez, you will be familiar with the games basic premise. Your main task in the game is to save “Project Lumi” from a virus attack. “Project Lumi” is a future version of the internet and is near completion. But it is not just any internet. It is a super internet that contains all the memories and experiences of Earth. Project Lumi’s goal is also to protect a woman named “Lumi” including all of her memories and experiences while on Earth. Oh yes and the game takes place on Eden. Your job is to purify the virus attacks in order to save Lumi. Confused yet? Well I am making it sound much more complicated than it actually is. Frankly, the story inevitably takes a back seat to the real enjoyment of the game which is flinging your arms about and destroying or rather purifying all those pesky virus attacks.
Once you fire up the game, you are treated to a scene that looks more like a laundry detergent ad or some kind of ad for a perfume spray. It seems out of place but it is very abstract and leaves you asking questions just before you embark on your journey. An under-aged model is prominently featured in the game and she is playing the role of Lumi. She is seen walking through a forest like setting that is augmented with CGI. Her appearances are very abstract and will appeal to those artsy types.
Your first ten minutes with the game gives you the basic plotline (in written text) and here is where you become acquainted with the games basic controls. I would have preferred more of a story driven narrative with some kind of voice work. But alas you have to read a bunch of screens at the outside which tells you the games basic storyline. Although you can play with the game with the controller, the game needs to be played with the Kinect controls. The controller simply feels out of place and left me questioning why it even needed to be included in the first place. The Kinect controls on the other hand are surprisingly very good. They are simple but very responsive. Your right hand is used to lock on your targets. Move your hand over the enemies (or viruses) and your reticle locks onto them. Once you have locked on to your target, you can flick your wrist and unleash explosions. At first I was exaggerating my movements but after awhile I figured out all I needed to do was to flick my wrist towards the screen and the desired blast would follow. Your left hand controls your tracer weapon which acts as a machine gun. The damage is small but necessary for certain enemies or as the game calls them viruses. There is no locking of targets with your left hand. You simply manoeuvre the onscreen cursor with your hand which autofires you weapon.
Switching back and forth between you left arm and right arm can be cumbersome at times. Often I would run into areas where I was unsure which type of attack I should be using. Unfortunately, the game does not allow you to use both weapons at the same time. The game forces you to use one or the other. You can use a short term blast by raising your hands like a referee touchdown call which eliminates everything on screen. But these attacks cannot be used often and do not make a dent in some of those bigger enemies. The game gets chaotic at times and I was surprised with the level of difficulty. Child of Eden is a challenging game as I even had difficulty getting past the games opening tutorial level.
On the downside, Child of Eden is a one player game. There is no multiplayer or co-op levels in the game. Not to mention the single player only consists of five levels making this Kinect game very short. I was somewhat taken back by the length especially when you consider the price of the game (over 50 bucks). Each level has its own visual theme and at times the game is highly enjoyable. Yet it is repetitive and well not an incredibly deep game either.
Child of Eden does feature some unlockable items that can be placed in Lumi’s Garden. You can also unlock screens, movie clips, and a music video. None of these unlockables interest me but will certainly appeal to some. There is no weapon upgrade system in the game either, so once you have gone through the game I see little in the way of replay value. That said, there are varying difficulty levels and there is a couple of other tacked on timed modes.
Visually, Child of Eden is a decent looking game. Many will be marveled by all the colours, shapes and other on-screen visuals flashing about on the screen. Those fans of Geometry Wars or Rez will enjoy the games visuals. It is bright, colourful and very vibrant. The game effectively manages to transport you in a different world and much of that is due to the games unique visuals. The movie sequences, although they look like a bounty ad, are nicely rendered. The games menus are simple and easy to navigate. The framerate in the game is solid and I noticed no major slow-downs as the game ran very smooth even during segments where there is a lot of chaos on the screen. Overall, I enjoyed the games visuals but nothing looked incredibly jaw dropping. Sure it is unique and vibrant but does it push the Xbox 360’s hardware? Hardly; however, the visuals suit the game and it works.
Child of Eden scores decent marks in this area. Although the game does not feature any voice work or any musical scores from recognizable artists, Child of Eden is a great sounding game. It seems to evolve and grow on you the more you play the game. Every object you strike seems to project a different beat which contributes to the existing beats and the result is musical score that comes together like an orchestra. Child of Eden’s music immerses you in the game and the high tempo techno beats perfectly suit the game. You almost get the feeling you are caught in a mellow rave, if there is such a thing, when playing the game. In any event, I was impressed with the games sound and my only complaint would be the lack of voice work which is replaced by text.
Child of Eden for the Kinect features solid graphics, superb sound and some addictively unique gameplay. Fans of Geometry Wars and Rez will highly enjoy the game. While there is no question Child of Eden is one of the better Kinect games, it is a short game that is light on features and frankly it is not for everyone. When you consider Child of Eden’s price tag, it is hard for me to recommend dropping 50 bucks or so on this game in these economic times. So all I can suggest is to proceed with caution.