|System: Xbox 360, PS3|
|Dev: Q Entertainment|
|Release: June 14, 2011|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p||Mild Fantasy Violence|
by Angelo M. D'Argenio
Do you have any idea how beautiful the world is? If not, then you aren't opening your mind, man. You need to broaden your horizons, expand your spiritual world. Don't worry. I got something that will send you on a two-hour trip, and after you come down you'll feel like all is right with your life. It's called Child of Eden for the Xbox 360, and it's the good stuff.
Seriously, this game is so trippy I'm flashing back to all the sketchy stuff I did in college—like when I played Rez for twenty-four hours straight. (Wait, what were you thinking I did in college?) The comparison to Rez is actually quite appropriate, because Child of Eden is Rez's spiritual sequel (and some theorize it's an actual sequel, although the fact that it is published by a different company complicates that theory). It's made by the same designer, Tetsuya Mizuguchi, and it provides the same psychedelic experience that Rez did, minus the Trance Vibrator.
For the uninitiated, Rez and its successor Child of Eden are both on-rails shooters that take you through abstract multi-colored landscapes while ambient music plays in the background. Every bullet you fire creates a new sound that is appropriate to the music you are listening to. Doing well raises the music to a wonderful symphony of sounds and beats and instruments, while doing poorly reduces the music to nothing more than a drum line. As you fire at your "enemies" (I'll explain why I put that in quotes later) the landscape around you changes, as fractal patterns open up before your eyes. It's supposed to be an experience that speaks to all of your senses. You see the colors, hear the music, and feel the vibration of your controller or the movement of your limbs through Kinect controls. Heck, all that's left is to add smell-and-taste-o-vision to the mix.
Child of Eden has a plot that is as trippy as its gameplay. It's the future, and we are attempting to recreate human intelligence in the digital world—in space! Project Lumi, as it is called, is mere steps away from recreating the first human personality born in space (Lumi) inside a massive computer network called Eden. Suddenly, Eden is hacked and a virus attack corrupts Lumi's data. (Personally, I blame Anonymous.) It's up to you to traverse Eden's digital space and "purify" all the corrupted data in order to save Lumi.
So there aren't really "enemies" in Child of Eden as much as there is corrupted data that you have to heal. Sure, this corrupted data still tries to kill you, and you still shoot at it, but you are shooting healing lasers which cause strange viral creatures to blossom into flowers and butterflies. In gameplay terms it's all the same thing, but in concept it's far more peaceful.
In terms of mechanics, the game is actually very simple. You have a health bar, which is represented by a five petal flower at the bottom right of the screen, and a stock of bombs, or "euphoria" in this case, which purify everything on the screen at once. You gain more health and euphoria by doing well in the game and shooting what are essentially item pick-ups as you go through the stages.
You only have two weapons: a homing laser that can lock on to up to eight targets at once before releasing a volley of laser blasts, or a rapid fire laser which continuously shoots wherever your reticle is pointed. Your lock-on weapon is the weapon you will be using throughout most of the game. Not only does it do more damage and hit more reliably, but locking on to eight enemies at once and releasing your lasers to the beat of the music gives you massive point bonuses. Unfortunately, your homing lasers can't hit enemy attacks, nor can they hit enemies that flash purple. So to handle these, you must switch to the rapid-fire weapon in order to intercept enemy shot and take out swarms of purple viruses.
With the controller, this is all handled with the analog stick and buttons, and the music thumps back to a beat that is translated to you through the controller's vibration. Oddly enough, this is the inferior way to play Child of Eden. Though the vibration feedback is kind of cool, the reticle is just not fast enough for the multiple waves of enemies that come at you in the game's later levels. For a truly immersive experience, hook up your Kinect.