Child Of Eden ‘Posthumous’ Review
©2011 Gav Ross
The bonus of writing a posthumous review is that commercial success and critical observations have already played out. Child Of Eden was received very well, but it didn’t exactly fly off the shelves.
Landing in at 83rd in the NPD sales data of June was not only a blow to the publisher and developers, but it didn’t bode well for future risky outings on the Kinect platform. It wasn’t like CoE was pushed blindly, though; the game is a follow-up to creator Tetsuya Mizuguchi’s earlier, ground-breaking title Rez – a title that even saw release on Xbox Live Arcade a few years ago and did quite well.
Child Of Eden promised to be a successor to Rez, with even greater depth; a divine orchestration of music and movement. So what went wrong?
Sleeper of Eden
Fingers could be pointed at promotion; Ubisoft didn’t go all out in this regard, opting to devote more advertising to Call Of Juarez: The Cartel – a game that, to be fair, was deserving of a push as well. In my opinion, Ubisoft may have overestimated the core audience and how many of them actually owned Kinect.
A parent or casual player with Kinect could view the cover art of Child of Eden, pick it up, read the description and still not get a clear idea of the type of game that could be expected unless they were familiar with Rez.
The game almost looks a little too full of itself, promising something akin to spiritual enlightenment whilst gaming. It’s not game of the year, nor is it sure to be the most impressive experience on Kinect for the next few years. What it is, however, is a piece unlike anything else, giving the too oft-used description ‘immersive’ a new meaning.
The storyline presented in Child of Eden is about as ethereal as the female character presented during the opening cinematic sequences. The artificial intelligence world inside which Rez took place is called Eden, and within that is Project Lumi – something that promises to create a human personality within that world. And there are viral enemies attacking the project.
Confusing? It doesn’t really matter. The most important thing is getting introduced to the coalescence of hypnotic sounds and visuals, and Kinect controls. As was the case with Rez, the player is guided on rails through a level, feeling like a weightless and ghostly presence. One hand guides a weapon that shows up as a neon circle on screen and shoots quick-fire bursts.
When there are more than a few enemies on screen the other hand can be used as a lock-on mechanic, most usually to take out a bunch of viral entities in a row and gain combo points. The virus unleashes attackers of all shapes, sizes and colours, each more brilliantly fluorescent than the last. Moving through a world that defies time and space, Child of Eden is utterly hypnotic.
The aural side of the game is just as important as the visual. Once again, Mizuguchi has crafted a layer of deep electronica that pulsates and shapeshifts along with the graphics. Take out enemies in time with the scattered beats and the game rewards you with even more points.
Mastering the game at the highest level no doubt takes more than practice; you have to transcend ‘playing’ the game and become part of the experience itself.
Child of Eden truly is an enveloping game in the maximum sense.