There's something about Child of Eden that makes people shut up and fixate on the screen. It could be because you're entranced by the colors bursting artfully in tandem with upbeat techno music or just the thought of, "Holy crap, am I tripping right now?" Either way, this is a title that people take notice of and for good reason. Child of Eden, a spiritual successor to Tetsuya Mizuguchi's cult sensation Rez, is an incredibly satisfying time, but it's one that can be over shortly after it begins.
Child of Eden truly is an experience unlike any other this generation (save maybe Rez HD of course). The story doesn't really matter or make much sense, but basically you're saving a girl and the Internet, which is now known as Eden. Child of Eden is essentially a first-person, on-rails shooter. You're not actually killing anything; you're purifying databases full of corrupt information. It's just you, the reticle, the music and the visuals -- a simple, yet effective formula. It's difficult to explain why it's so cool, but once you get your hands on Child of Eden, everything will make sense.
Each level (or archive) outlines a specific part of life on Earth. Beauty is comprised of plants and butterflies, Evolution includes a whale transforming into a bird, and Passion is more of an industrial paradise filled with machinery. The neon art style alone is something to gawk at, but the incredible score ties each level together perfectly. This is one of those games where the songs got stuck in my head for days and I wanted to play the game just to hear the soundtrack again. The sights and sounds work together to place you in a sort of happy trance. I felt my troubles melt away and the only thing I had to do was explore Eden.
You eliminate impurities plaguing Eden by shooting in two main ways: rapid fire shots or a lock-on gun where you select targets and then release a button (flick your wrist if you're using Kinect) to exterminate them. There are multiple control schemes for both a regular controller and Kinect, so you can find what's most comfortable for you.
I've heard people dismiss Kinect as a viable control option because there's no vibration feedback. After trying both control options for Child of Eden, I found that I preferred Kinect's superior responsiveness. Yes, Kinect makes navigating Eden's databases far easier. In fact, the analog sticks seem clunky compared to swiftly moving your hand around the screen.
As for the lack of vibration, I ended up becoming my own feedback by swaying to the beat. I'm sure I looked ridiculous dancing back and forth and flinging my right arm about, but I was having a damn good time.
Don't get me wrong, you can't just dance around and expect to make it through Eden. Enemies will fire projectiles that can only be eliminated by using the rapid fire gun. The only trouble is with all the colors flying around, sometimes I didn't notice when enemies shot at me. In an effort to help players out, there's a incoming shot warning similar to grenade alerts in other shooters, but there's so much going on that it's not always helpful. If I ever was in trouble, I turned to my Euphoria bombs, which devastate enemies and made me feel like I was on a roller coaster ride. (I had to throw my arms up over my head to unleash it with Kinect.)
The trick to success in Eden is to increase your multiplier by using the lock-on gun. Achieving this seems simple -- you'll need to lock-on to eight targets and fire on them in time with the beat. However, this is easier said than done because while you're trying to achieve perfect combos, enemies will fire upon you and you'll be forced to switch back to rapid fire. It took me a while to get the hang of quickly switching back and forth between the guns, but it's really satisfying when you do manage to get perfect multipliers one after the other.
Rez purists will be happy to know that as you progress in Child of Eden, the archives get increasingly difficult. Once you complete the game on Normal, you'll unlock Hard mode. While the difficulty is there for those who want it, Child of Eden also offers a mode where you can relax and enjoy levels without the fear of dying. It should be noted that this god mode, titled "Feel Eden," can only be used on levels you've already unlocked. So, if you were hoping to ease someone you love into the game this way, you'll need to unlock everything yourself first.
My biggest complaint about the journey is that it's over way before you want it to be; I beat Child of Eden in a few hours. Still, it's clear that the team has made efforts to keep players entranced -- archives only unlock after you earn a specific amount of stars, which you gather by either replaying old levels or completely rocking at nabbing those perfect multipliers.
There are other fun features as well, such as choosing a creature from each level for Lumi's garden (aka the title screen). New art styles, pictures, partial music videos and more all unlock after you play. Leaderboards are another good incentive to return to Eden, and once you complete all five main archives, a sixth opens up that serves as a challenge mode where the objective is to survive as many levels as you can. The music here is a surprising treat -- it starts off as rock and eventually transitions back into Mizuguchi's traditional techno.