Child of Eden Review
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On 06/18/2011 at 11:50 PM by Nick DiMola
Explore the beauty of life and the world through this aural and visual feast.
For everyone. Buy it, rent it, whatever; just play it.
Wow. That’s all I can say after completing Child of Eden last night. Just, wow. Tetsuya Mizuguchi and Q? Games have delivered an experience that’s stunningly gorgeous and completely unparalleled. I’m struggling to find the words to describe the experience I had, but it was something completely unique and personal. For me, it was emotional, immersive, and moving, conjuring up memories and thoughts from throughout my life.
Your journey begins in Eden. You have been tasked with cleansing the world of viral impurities and this process will take you on an adventure that allows you observe and unmask the beauty and essence of the world and life. It’s an experience that each person must have in order to fully understand, but every minute of it is exceptional.
Lately we’ve seen a number of attempts at creating a game that critics would consider art. Child of Eden makes the most convincing a case; it’s vibrant, colorful, and unbelievably dynamic, with an accompanying soundtrack that heightens the experience.
In the year 2037, a girl, Lumi, is born in international space; the first human to have been born in outer space. Throughout her life, she longs to go to Earth, and expresses herself in song. Years after her death, the Internet becomes known as Eden, and stores all of the known natural and human history. Scientists seek to resurrect Lumi within the world of Eden but something goes awry and Eden is overcome by viruses. You must rescue both Lumi and Eden from these viruses that threaten the future of human knowledge.
As you pursue Lumi, you are taken on a quest through the digital world that seems to represent the world, life, evolution, and everything in between. The musical track that pulses in the background is of Lumi’s creation, originating from the time she longed to be on Earth.
Unlike what you may have come to expect from artistic games, Child of Eden’s gameplay is just as engaging as its visual and aural presentation. Similar in many ways to its spiritual predecessor, Rez, you are able to use three different moves to dispense the plaguing viruses.
The first returns from Rez; the octa-lock ability allows you to hone in on up to eight targets. As you make your way through the on-rails level you must move your reticle over targets in order to attack them. In order to earn the maximum number of points, it’s important to lock-on to eight targets at a time and to release the homing shot in beat with the music in the background. Doing so will build a multiplier, though it’s made very hard to maintain.
Complementing this ability is the tracer. This is a weaker weapon, but one that fires rapidly and must be used to both destroy inbound projectiles and certain enemies that are covered in purple viruses. The combination of the two weapons provides for more layered gameplay than what was found in Rez, creating a much greater challenge. In many segments, you will have to bounce back and forth between using the two weapons as the enemies moving across the screen rapidly change.
If things ever get to be too much, you will have opportunities to collect and use euphoria, which will completely clear the screen, saving you from damage. In the case that damage is sustained, as you destroy viruses, certain sets will release items to replenish life. Collecting both life and euphoria are relevant for earning points and collecting either will increase your ending score.
Upon reaching the end of any given level, you will take on an inventive boss that requires quick reflexes, light puzzle solving, and interchangeable use of both weapons. Beating the boss will end the level and provide you with a score and a ranking of up to five stars.
Unfortunately, failing anywhere in a level will require a complete restart of the ten to fifteen minute long event, which can be frustrating if you happen to lose in a boss battle. Checkpoints would suffice well, though it’s hard to say if their inclusion would’ve altered the overall experience.
It may be hard to believe, but death is a real possibility in Child of Eden. Your first run through the later levels in the game is likely to result in death; further attempts may even produce the same result, depending on skill level. Even after you have an understanding of what to expect next in each level, reaching a five star-worthy score is an unbelievably tough task.
Upon completion of the entire game, you will be provided with the ability for some replay value with a new thirty minute long challenge level and a hard mode setting. The hard mode provides viruses that are far more deadly, making for a significant challenge. Various visual filters can be unlocked as well as a variety of other items, giving further reasons to keep coming back.
If any complaint could be levered against Child of Eden, it’s that it's extremely short and essentially only six levels long. Only four of those levels are wholly unique, with the fifth level offering an amalgamation of all four preceding levels, and the sixth offering a stripped down experience that’s more in line with Rez than the other levels of the game.
I experienced Child of Eden with the controller, but based on what I’ve seen, Kinect appears to be the way to play the game. Without the constraints of the controller, it would be much easier to stay on top of the various enemies of the screen. Regardless, either will suffice for enjoying what’s contained.
Though Child of Eden is a short game, it’s fantastic from beginning to end. I wish there was more to experience, but what’s included is so brilliant, it’s hard to complain. Do yourself a favor and figure out a way to at least play this game once; it just might change what you think a game can be.