Whilst the mechanics suggest a twin stick shooter, what Child of Eden actually is, is a musical experience. And despite its brevity of content, other than its spiritual predecessor, Rez, there’s nothing else quite like it on the market.
Child of Eden has you travel through representations of data files in order to destroy a virus in the system. There’s a narrative of artificial intelligence and consciousness rebirth driving it along but it’s almost completely moot; the virus needs destroying and you’re equipped to do so which in turn interacts with the music. The goal then, is to shoot with your free firing tracer shots, eight lock on missiles, or your screen clearing euphoria bombs to destroy the spreading corruption within each of the five levels – or files – represented by fantastical shapes and creatures within the visually intense stages.
At its most basic level Child of Eden plays out like a on-rail shooter, an utterly beautiful one at that. The environments look like infinite pools of colours and shapes that react to your presence and actions. It’s a unique and captivating visual treat that threaten to distract you from your task. The music and your interaction with it is in fact the primary experience. Whilst shooting the virus infected targets, notes are played to compliment the backing track, with score multipliers introduced for matching the beat .You can even remix the track on the fly with reverb and echo and the like but with no actually affect on the mechanics. Your input changes the music and the visuals, making the presentation a powerful feedback tool.
Unfortunately, with only five stages, it’s all over fairly quickly. The changes to the presentation in each stage are mostly scripted, and the affect you have is subtle, meaningful and beautiful but ultimately minor. However, each stage is fairly long and certainly unique, and the challenge picks up considerably as you make your way through them, with a no-fail option if you wish to enjoy the experience on a more casual level. But these restrictions don’t have the same effect on Child of Eden as they would the majority of other games. Experiencing Child of Eden is far closer to how we appreciate other art forms than to how we experience games through play. It’s an interactive journey through colour and music that needs to be experienced to truly understand.
That’s not to say the ‘game’ elements are completely lost in its message, you’re still challenged to beat each stage by completely clearing it of the virus and scoring high on the leaderboards. Doing so will unlock an additional challenge mode and difficulty setting as well as tons of collectables such as art work.
Child of Eden’s twin-stick setup works brilliant but that isn’t your only option. Kinect support allows you the option of immersing yourself in the experience to an even higher degree, really making you feel involved by reinforcing immersion through your thought and action resulting in visual and musical feedback; like conducting a symphony. It’s a title that uniquely fits both control schemes without compromise.
Child of Eden is certain a unique experience that widen the term ‘game’. And despite a lack of content that is threatening to damage replayability, it’s still a wonderful rhythm shooter with such quality in its presentation you almost feel like you’re not playing a game at all. Its bright and welcoming visuals and exceptionally composed score harmonically compliments the shooting mechanics and vice versa; you must experience it for yourself.
MLG Rating: 9/10
Platform: Xbox 360 Release Date: 17/06/2011
Disclosure: Midlife Gamer were provided a physical copy of Child of Eden for review purposes by the promoter. The title was reviewed over the course of one week on an Xbox 360 Kinect. For more information on what our scores mean, plus details of our reviews policy, click here.