Well, you certainly can’t say that Child of Eden has a clichéd plot. Lumi, the ever first human child to be born on a space station, is being digitally reconstructed by a future generation in an attempt to view her memories. But she’s under attack by a virus, which must be destroyed to allow access to said memories. As you make your way through the jumbled mess of her mind you get to witness the big bang, mankind’s evolution from single-cell organisms, the development of technology and more in an incredibly abstract fashion. People would probably pay good money to walk around a gallery filled with screenshots taken from this game, given the artistic flare and direction.
To say that this rather tuneful on-rails shooter is ‘just like Rez’ would be a very lazy notion. Not just because not everybody reading this will have played Sega’s trippy shooter, but because the differences between the two are vast. Rez was viewed from the third person, featuring a character drawn in vector graphics at the bottom of the screen, whereas this is first person with just a plainly drawn targeting reticle under your control.
This time round creator Tetsuya Mizuguchi has thought to include two different weapons as well, in addition to a ‘smart bomb’. The lock-on laser is essential for building score multipliers and can be locked on to ten enemies at a time, while the purple fire-tracer laser takes down projectiles instantaneously and destroys purple-hued enemies quickly. Every projectile is purple in colour, thus making them very easy to detect, while an extra ring also appears over your target reticle to warn of any incoming fire.
When playing with Kinect the right hand fires the lock-on laser while the left hand fires the tracker. It’s just as playable with a joypad as it is with Kinect, so don’t worry if you haven’t shelled out for Microsoft’s delightful device yet. It is though slightly easier to get the achievements with Kinect as the target scores for each level are slightly lower. That’s thoughtful of the developers, that is.
In terms of content and structure it’s very similar to a light-gun game – there are five levels each taking around 10-12 minutes to finish and offering a hell of a lot of replay value. The first three levels unlock quite quickly but then you have to replay them several times to have enough points unlock the final two. Attack patterns need to be memorised in order to achieve an elusive 100 percent ‘purified’ rating, and boy does it feel like a huge accomplishment when you do so. Every time you finish a level there’s a chance to pick a new item for Yumi’s garden too, giving an incentive to play previously completed levels.
The third level, titled Passion, has to be the graphical highlight. It charts the history of technology starting off with what appears to be the industrial revolution, featuring a world made of cogs and gears, before progressing to a vast cityscape with countless skyscrapers.
The last level is the only real disappointment – it’s a slow and tedious boss rush level, ending with a battle that requires some incredibly accurate shooting skills. After being treated to such imaginative sights and sounds, to end on a low note like this is a bit of a shame. Fortunately the surprise inclusion an unlockable challenge mode with an arcade-like vibe goes some way to compensating for this.
Although undeniably a treat for both the ears and eyes, this isn’t a game for all and sundry. Fans of Sega’s Rez will no doubt be in their element – this being the unofficial sequel and all – but the fact you have to replay the same linear five levels over and over again to get your money’s worth may seem alien to some.
It’s not hard to imagine some gamers feeling a bit miffed by the omission of checkpoints either – if you’re killed by an end-of-level boss you’re thrown back to the menu screen and have to start from scratch.
Those that can live with Child of Eden’s way of doing things though will find it to be the most memorable gaming experience in a very long time.