Tetsuya Mizuguchi's Rez is a cult classic, but was never a hit with a mass audience or at retail. That a follow-up was even greenlit by publisher Ubisoft, nearly ten years after the release of the original, is something of a mystery.
Well, fans wanted it, and now they have it with Child of Eden. A sequel to Rez in everything but name, Child of Eden is a short-but-sweet journey through five awe-inspiring worlds, and one of the best Kinect-enabled experiences to date.
Child of Eden (Xbox 360)
If there was ever a game that didn't really need a story, it's Child of Eden, but Q Entertainment has managed to include one nonetheless. You're tasked with purifying various Archives of corrupt information that threaten to destroy Project Lumi, which is being designed to create an archive of human memories. Fans of Q Entertainment's previous work and the music of the Mizuguchi-produced Genki Rockets will recognize the female face (and voice) of Lumi as Nami Miyahara. Cleansing the archives and saving Lumi (the "princess" in Child of Eden's "castle," so to speak) directly leads players into the events of Rez, which takes place inside that the Project Lumi artificial intelligence. So that's happening, right?
Completing Child of Eden's five archives isn't a particularly difficult task, but doing it well can be both tricky and wholly satisfying. The skill is in locking on to eight targets and then releasing your blasts on the beat, which is easier in theory than in practice. Doing so in rapid succession holds your combo, helping you rack up higher scores based on your performance.
Sure, it's possible to simply blast your way through each of the game's stages, but the beat-based gameplay hook requires some finesse for high scores, and can be extremely satisfying.
If the core point-and-shoot on-rails gameplay gets stale on its own, there's no way of knowing for certain. The game's audio and visuals are in many ways directly tied to your actions, with hi hats, crashes, and crescendos you'll trigger based on your performance. And while the trance-like, electronic pop sounds of Genki Rockets may not be up everyone's alley taken alone, it's difficult not to appreciate the ways in which the music is impeccably woven into the experience.
I'm completely accustomed to pointing and shooting with a controller in my hand, be it a dual analog controller or a pointer like the Wii Remote, a mouse, or PlayStation Move. But Child of Eden's Kinect controls are the first time I completely understood how a controller-less gaming could break down the wall between the game and the player.
I wasn't simply manipulating things on the screen with sticks and a pad, like a god pulling the strings on a marionette -- I was part of the experience, completely and fully. If that sounds like some kind of intangible hippie, spiritual mumbo jumbo to you, I won't argue. But it's utterly undeniable once you've experienced it for yourself.
While I liked ditching the controller for a more direct experience with the game, I ran into some frustrations when the Kinect sensor picked up on me "pushing forward" and would accidentally trigger my attack, breaking a combo. Ultimately, I played through the Archives a number of times using both control schemes, though; it was almost like playing a completely different game in many ways.
THE VERDICT - Child of Eden
Reviewed by Nick Chester
|5:00 AM on 09.23.2011|
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