It was the space whales that got your attention, wasnít it? Their glittery bodies swimming amongst other techno-coloured space creatures. We donít blame you. Space whales hold a special place in our hearts and weíll stop at nothing to keep them swimming the deep black sea. Swim, glorious beasts. Swim!
(Or maybe it was SPOnG's earlier preview
or perhaps our interview with creator Tetsuya Mizuguchi
that got you. Whatever.)
By space, we really mean the internet or, as Rez
creator Mizuguchi-san would call it, Eden. Itís a place in which the worldís history is archived for future generations to learn from. Itís where youíll be experiencing all the wondrous audial and visual treats Child of Eden
has on offer. Yes, that includes those lovely, sparkly space whales.
Every story needs some conflict and in this tale the problem sits with a good old fashioned virus, much like a musical ILOVEYOU virus. Lumi, Edenís first born, is infected and you must purify several archives to free her and successfully gain control over Eden. Simple, right?
Actually yes, simple it is. You have a max of three attack forms, your general shooter that rids of you of the more deadly purple targets; a tracker, which allows you to select up to eight targets and then destroy them in one fell swoop; and the euphoria bomb that clears the screen of any viral nastiness.
Youíll mostly be using the tracker, a weapon most will recognise from Child of Eden
ís spiritual prequel, Rez
. When used in time with the music, a perfect Octa-lock can not only gain you a multiplier to your score but also offers enhancements to the music.
Pulling off a perfect lock requires a keen ear and timing to hit those seemingly impossible 800,000 point challenges. Wiping your tracker over worms, spiralling butterflies or tiny shells will select them automatically and you can release the lock to send the attack through. Not all enemies will fall to the tracker and youíll have to use the shooter to weaken foes or destroy many of the harmful purple objects that slowly float toward you.
On top of that you can collect health bonusí and euphoria bombs during the levels. They will come flying past and youíll need to shoot them in order to obtain them. You can forgive yourself for missing them on earlier levels but as soon as you hit Passion or Journey, missing them can be disastrous.
You can play with either your controller or Kinect, both of which offer a unique way to experience Child of Eden
. In fact, itís worth giving the game a go with both control sets and seeing which youíll feel most at home with. I found Kinect was more generous with perfecting octa-locks but the controller offered just that little extra precision needed to purge all of the creatures or pick up all of the power-ups along the way.
This is definitely Kinectís best Ďhardcoreí title to date. It was very responsive to my movements and offered a deeper and more personal connection to Eden than a controller could ever hope to achieve. Each hand represents a weapon and throwing both arms up in the air unleashes the euphoria bomb with a tremendous roar. Partnered with the music, using Kinect can transport you into the euphoric cocoon of Eden, while a controller will only remind you of scoring or skill.
There are five archive worlds in total, all of which pump up the difficulty by a noticeable margin. Each archive has a theme from nature, water creatures in space, or computers and offer several stages to pass. A sixth world, Hope, unlocks after beating the game and offers 10 stages of survival-based combat with no health bonuses to grab and only one euphoria bomb available to use.
Beating a level will allow you to select a notable creature or object from that stage to add to Lumiís Garden, the interactive main menu in which you select levels. There are four on each level to collect and several versions of the same thing to grab after repeated playthroughs.
Depending on difficulty, each level offers around eleven minutes of gameplay, which means you can finish the basic story in just over an hour. Child of Eden
isnít the kind of experience you play through once and, even though an hour might seem a little on a short side, thatís definitely not how long youíll end up spending with it. Itís a game of perfection and points.
Youíll need to beat each level on normal and hard, as well as gain perfect 5 star rankings on each. You will also need to unlock all items and purge each level of all viruses as well as beat some bosses under certain times before you can even think to have completed it. That said, if youíre not a perfectionist then the musical experience Child of Eden
will offer more than enough to enjoy.
Turn off the damage, turn up the speakers and fly through each stage without a care. I'm sure this is the Child of Eden
Mizuguchi-san wants you to experience at least once. Remixed tracks of the Genki-Rocketís best in futuristic, inspiring levels will transport you far away from anything you care to worry about. Itís an almost therapeutic journey for the senses and one well worth taking the trip.
Child of Eden does everything it aspires to do. Itís a music game, a journey and an unmissable experience. Sure, you can beat it in just over an hour but if thatís your concern then Child of Eden certainly isnít what youíre looking for. Great music, visuals and tight controls make Child of Eden one of 2011ís most interesting and fascinating releases to date.
SPOnG Score: 90%