Child of Eden Review
Posted by Mike Mason
Child of Eden's story involves the creation of a human personality, Lumi, for A.I. system Eden, but when it actually comes down to it the narrative is of no consequence. This is not a game that you play to follow a plot – it's a mesmeric feast, a perfect marriage of sound, visuals and movement designed to flood your brain with endorphins.
Child of Eden is a spiritual sequel – well, a prequel in story terms - to Rez, Q Entertainment's superb Dreamcast and PS2 title. Like Rez, it's an on-rails shooter that knows no logic but rhythm, a charge through cyberspace that is sometimes sparse, other times chaotic, but seldom uninteresting. As enemy viruses swoop through the air towards, away from and around you, it's your task to cleanse them before they do serious damage to Lumi.
When Child of Eden first launched on Kinect, it quickly became a bastion of hope for gamers hoping for more than mini-game collections from Microsoft's sensor. It delivered where other games had fallen short, allowing players complete power to purify with their bare hands through the camera peripheral. The transition to PlayStation 3 and Move could have proved troublesome given this emphasis on controller-less control, but Q Entertainment has less flown in the face of doubt than destroyed it in a rainbow ball of joy.
Move never feels like a burden, even making the game simpler to play thanks to the availability of buttons to support motion. While not always millimetre perfect, Move's accuracy is rarely a problem; it more than does the game justice, and any flaws are offset by the immersion the control method offers. DualShock 3 is an option if you're dead set on score setting, but it feels robotic and too easy, removing a huge portion of Child of Eden's appeal when compared to the PlayStation Move set up.
With Move firmly in fist, any obstacles or opponents that appear can be selected with a mere swipe of your arm, drawing the cursor across the screen to sweep over and lock onto targets. It's then as simple as flicking Move quickly to release a barrage of searing lasers. For maximum effect, however, taking out multiple troubles with each assault is the way to go. Your weapon can fix onto up to eight viruses before you have to let off the obliterating beams – a technique known as Octo-Locking. Jerking Move in time to the beat rewards with score multipliers and generally makes you feel like a king of swing. There's also a secondary, non-lock on purple laser that can be sprayed like a machine gun, fired with T, that is particularly effective against indigo and violet viruses and projectiles of the same hue that are hurled towards you. Should you get hit, there are occasional blue bubbles to shoot at to replenish your health supply, while black and purple Euphoria balls can add smart bomb powers to your arsenal for those desperate times.
Rather than using Move as a pointer, Child of Eden tracks the position of the controller, meaning that players must reach around and keep their arms moving near-constantly as with the Kinect version. Despite these frequent, wide-stretching movements, it never actually dawns upon you how tired your arm is until an archive — a level — is finished; it's so absorbing that all that matters is what is happening on the screen. Even once a level has been conquered, if you're a fan of psychedelia and audio-visual experiences, all it's going to take is a roll of your shoulder and a stretch of the elbow before you're ready to go again.
The combination of vibrant, neon visuals and J-Pop-inspired electro music — courtesy of Genki Rockets – makes Child of Eden an unwavering thing of beauty. Sound effects merge into the music seamlessly; environments evolve around you, alternately bursting with colour and dimming in times of doom, the approach completely different from stage to stage. Similarly, the bosses that cap each area — and sometimes pursue throughout — are massive, multi-staged affairs that require your full attention, their forms morphing spectacularly, Lumi's songs breaking through the audio with each concussive hit as the battles reach their conclusions. Each archive has its own identity, a world that you become so immersed in that it's often a surprise when, at the end, the timer notes that the stage only lasted ten minutes.
There are only five archives, making Child of Eden quite a short game, even though stages have to be played through multiple times in order to unlock all areas. Only when you have collected enough stars, awarded whenever you complete a stage, can you continue. Collect more power-ups and purify as many viruses as possible in a level and you'll get more stars. This method of progression seems at odds with the rest of Child of Eden, pulling back on the feeling of fluidity found elsewhere and stopping you from storming through immediately. It forces you to repeat what you have already seen, when all you really want to do initially is explore more.
Child of Eden might be known primarily for its forefront position in Kinect's line-up, but it's just as comfortable on PlayStation Move, especially worthy of a purchase given the ridiculously good budget RRP. Rarely have we had as good a time with PlayStation Move — or any game in recent times, for that matter — as with Child of Eden, standing in a darkened room, the volume pumped high, playing by the light of the television and the Move controller alone.