Posted on June 20, 2011 AT 02:28pm
Throughout the years, Tokyo-based Q? Entertainment has produced several visually stunning games that wed sweeping aesthetics with blissful beats to birth unique experiences that juggle conceptually simple mechanics with steep difficulty gradients. Whether it’s Rez’s Area 5, those late-stage Lumines puzzles, or a dwindling clock in Every Extend Extra, Q?’s titles are notorious for hypnotizing you with rhythms then pulling a full-on Rope-A-Dope with your gameplay skills. The team’s latest title, Child of Eden, purports to do the same with Microsoft’s Kinect hardware.
Child of Eden is a radiant futuristic first-person shoot-em-up that resembles Rez in certain respects–zapping objects floating around in shiny, poly-colored space and avoiding a barrage of deathly lasers–but offers the option to control your weapons with your body (or a controller). After Lumi, the last Earth-born woman, dies, her genetic memory is stored in Eden, tomorrow’s Internet, to retell future generations of what life was like on our planet. It’s your job to play the role of antivirus software and allow humanity to have a clean perspective of Lumi’s existence.
Using Kinect’s default controls, you wave a reticule to target up to eight viral enemies a la Rez and launch a strike by flicking your hand at the camera. You can use your other hand to unleash cannon fire at laser pulses. As you purify viruses, you occasionally get drops for health orbs or Euphoria orbs. With Euphoria, you raise your hands to unleash a cluster bomb that mass-purifies just like Rez’s Overdrive. For Kinect-less players, all of these functions are done with a single analog stick and three buttons.
In concept, these ideas work, but CoE evokes Rez both positively and negatively. While the Dreamcast title is a classic, there are elements of that game that can be forgiven as relics of its era–sparse levels with no checkpoints–that are a turn-off in today’s era of gaming. CoE is beautiful and vivid, but it feels rather sparse for a full release, and the gameplay, whether using motion controls or a controller, isn’t responsive or fast enough to keep up with the challenging gameplay. The difficulty would be more forgivable if the game offered some rhyme or reason to providing health and Euphoria drops; at least some skill would be involved in surviving, but they’re randomized. If you turn on “Feel Eden” difficulty (God mode), you can play without dying, but it’s not particularly rewarding, either.
Child of Eden is a spiritual successor to Rez, though it evokes that game’s archaic elements in certain regards. It’s too punishing for the Kinect-only crowd and while Q? fans might put up with its quirks, it plays like a downloadable game with higher production values, which will disappoint others. With those caveats mentioned, it’s still a very unique an beautiful experience that gamers with a great audio/visual setup with enjoy.
The Good: Has Q?‘s trademark hypnotic visuals and great soundtrack
The Bad: Gameplay isn’t very engaging with a controller, nor responsive enough with Kinect
The Ugly: Your vocabulary after dying for the umpteenth time
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