Child of Eden Reviews

  • CheneyHeadshotCheneyHeadshot351,057
    28 Jun 2011 17 Oct 2011
    44 10 27
    Before I start, let me say: I absolutely love Rez. I love it to the point where I have the music on my iThing, own the game on Dreamcast, PS2 & XBLA and once got into a pointless bidding war for a t-shirt on eBay just because it had the Rez logo on it. I may not have bothered to max it on XBLA, but that had more to do with the fact I’d already clocked it the first time around.

    Child of Eden is effectively the sequel to Rez, so you could conclude that I’m already biased in its favour. Here’s the thing: as much as I love pretty much everything Tetsuya Mizuguchi’s done since Sega Rally in his AM2 days, I can’t help but feel Child of Eden isn’t enough of a departure from the halcyon days of that game that starts with R.

    Sure, the graphics are stunning when compared to the wireframe and flat shaded polygons of Rez. Likewise, the music is a marked contrast from the techno of its esteemed forebear. It's when you pick up a controller that the similarities become evident. The first level is a blatant tribute to its incredible predecessor, and you’d be forgiven for thinking it ended there.

    At its core, Child of Eden is an on-rails shooter where you move along a fixed path destroying the viruses threatening Lumi's existence. If you ever played Pokémon Snap or Time Crisis (or heaven forbid, Rez) you'll have a good idea of what this entails, enemies showing up at fixed points along a predetermined path. Only in the case of this game, not Pikachu or generic gun-toting enemies, rather whales or butterflies (for example) which you're purifying of the infection they're afflicted with.
    If you successfully purify a large group of enemies you'll typically gain a health or euphoria pickup.

    The controls are essentially the same as Rez, only with an additional rapid fire that takes down projectiles that you can’t shoot ordinarily, a similar mechanic to bullet-hell shooter You also get a bonus if you release your lock-on in sync with the beat of the music. These 'Perfect Octa-Locks' are the key to getting any sort of high score.

    The plot is complete nonsense, some half-baked bollocks about the memory of a space-born child named Lumi stored in the titular Eden being attacked by viruses. In some ways it's almost a reverse of Rez's nonsensical plot .

    Coming as it does from Tetsuya Mizuguchi, his band Genki Rockets contributes the bulk of the music for the game, including the maddeningly catchy Heavenly Star (as previously featured in PSP game Lumines II), the roots of which show up throughout.
    Catchy it may be, but none of the tunes reach the heights of Buggie Running Beeps or Rock Is Sponge from Rez.

    If you're a Rez veteran, you may find the game a bit harder than you're used to. Once you’ve cracked a level, though, it becomes a little more straightforward and you get into the realm of score attacks rather than out and out survival.
    It’s difficult to get a 100% purified (shot down) rating on a level, even the first one. Coming from a place where I’d quit out of a level if I’d missed an enemy, it’s a bitter pill to swallow.

    A slight negative is that you don’t carry over your energy level or euphoria (overdrive) power-ups like in Rez. This makes some levels very hard to start with as you can’t do the old trick of playing through level 1 to get powered-up. In contrast, it is a marked improvement that you can now get a high score through normal play rather than having to go to a separate score attack mode.
    The game is can also be controlled via Kinect which apparently makes for quite a different experience, though I’ve not yet had the chance to play it via this method - expect a short update once I have. I’ve even heard it described as the best Kinect game yet. That said, if you want to chase high scores, the conventional controller is the only way to go.

    The worst thing about this game is the ending. There, I said it. It’s pretty much nonsense. A half-baked j-pop karaoke abomination that leaves you thinking “whaaaaaatt?” It's total shit.
    From the achievements point of view, the fact it's still at 8000TA a couple of weeks after release speaks volumes. You'll need to play this a lot to even get close to mastering it, making it similar to Rez in that respect, only with 1000Gs instead of 200Gs.

    Ultimately, Child of Eden is a victim of the fact it’s a sequel to Rez and never really reaches the lofty heights set 10 years ago. Sure, it comes close at moments (level 1 as a whole, some spectacular set-pieces such as the planets on level 4) but falls slightly short. It is well worth playing but if you've not played the first game you need to make it your priority to buy Rez HD on XBLA instead.

    Edit: Finally borrowed a Kinect sensor to play this with. I tried Matrix Archive on Hard. Oh my good god. It's a shitload harder playing by flapping your arms around. Also, the controls aren't quite as intuitive as they might be, though playing it on Hard probably wasn't the best starting point really. I did pretty well and I could well see meself playing it a lot with Kinect if I had it permanently. I can see why high score chasers will go for joypad control though.
    Showing most recent comments. View all comments.
    CheneyHeadshotThanks for your input. :)
    Posted by CheneyHeadshot on 28 May 12 at 17:02
    Lt DavoThis review has 13 references to a game I've never heard of and several other references to other games I've never played. A review should make sense even to people who haven't played the same games as the reviewer. This review is useless to me.
    Posted by Lt Davo on 24 Nov 17 at 18:15
    CheneyHeadshotIn fairness, I do recommend you play Rez HD too. Or in the event you don't have a 360, try looking at Youtube videos.
    Posted by CheneyHeadshot on 01 Dec 17 at 15:06
  • SuperEboySuperEboy119,014
    20 Jul 2011 20 Jul 2011
    15 8 8
    Child of Eden, while being bright and graphically impressive, I felt didn't offer very much and strongly appealed to a very limited demographic.

    As mentioned in a well-written review by CheneyHeadshot, the gameplay is similar to Poke'Mon Snap (N64) - where, while remaining on a track, you go through orchestrated lights and shoot down the "virus-colored" textures that are infesting Eden. However, to add an interesting twist, the game not only wants you to rely on your sight, but on your hearing as well. I found myself comparing it to a combination of Frequency/Amplitude (PS2) and Poke'Mon Snap , as the game rewards players that complete actions in timing of the beat.

    As already mentioned, the game doesn't mess around when it comes to its visual aspect. There are plenty of beautifully designed atmospheres that are full of abstract shapes and colors. Some might consider it a stoner paradise, along with games like Geometry Wars.

    This is the part when the review takes a turn and starts pointing out, what I considered, to be flawed.

    In my opinion, when a game offers gameplay that's as abstract and unique as Child of Eden is, I find no reason to try to throw in a justifying plot. Notably, games like Tetris or Frequency have no concrete story line (or one at all, honestly) and are focused moreso on just the objective at hand. Regardless, Q Entertainment decided to add a story line based on a chick (Lumi) who's interplanetary (virtual) garden is being invaded from some evil, undefined force. While the cinematics are beautiful, (not to mention - Lumi is a babe,) I was extremely bored and uninterested to follow the story. I felt the game could have been exponentially more interesting if the game developers took out the story from the game. To reward those curious, they could have sprinkled portions of a plot over the internet, or allowed forums to be made to discuss the symbolism behind specific textures and what other people thought. This leaves the imagination open for people to personally define what the game meant to them.

    To bat against its visual praise, the make or break of the game could be determined whether you're playing on a 50'' 1080p LED television or you're playing on a 17'' tube-television from the 90's. In my opinion, the game relies too heavily on that visual appeal. As the "evil forces" are defined by darker, and perhaps, more intimidating colors/shapes, not being able to spot those hues could make the game unenjoyable. Even on a nice television and having (disputably) "normal" vision, I had to fish around the screen on occasion to find the targets I was supposed to be shooting at.

    Additionally, the game revolves around music that ... well, could be interpreted as annoying to some. I, personally, have nothing against rave/techno/electronic music - but I became turned off after an occasional Japanese singer would come in and say phrases I don't (and don't care to) understand. Of course, everyone is going to have their preferences - some may not even care to listen to the music at all. However, a big reason to why competing music games have found success is their stretch of variety found within that genre of music. Even games like Frequency, (that follow a very similar "electronic feel",) have variations that can appeal to a wider range of gamers (and perhaps convert them).
    This isn't to say that game didn't change tempo, pitches and instruments in an attempt to keep the player's mood on its feet. However, I feel a major flaw was it's unwillingness to break into cross-genres and stayed true to only a very traditional electronic sound.

    The length and replayability wasn't much for the game to brag about either. The game is very short, only appealing to those who'd want to replay a level at a higher difficulty. As most of the levels are (give or take) 12-16 minutes long, and they are this continual pulse-beat of electronic music, they can wear out pretty quick if you agree with the opinion stated above.

    Considering that achievements are based on playing each level and then again at a higher (and remarkably challenging) difficulty, you'll be replaying and listening to the same song over and over again. A few achievements are actually based on predetermining (and memorizing) where certain invaders are going to show up and releasing the A button in timing with the music to meet a minimal score. This could take a very long time - and to have the discipline to sit through and memorize them can be taxing.

    As a Kinect owner and relatively lazy person, I thought it's ability to be played with Kinect offered something new and exciting - but quickly got ignored when seeing how much more efficient using the controller was. The neat part was that on occasion I felt as thought i was conducting the lights, as I'd aim and move my arms in relation to the music. However, as the motion reading with Kinect can occasionally error, and some of the harder achievements are based on perfection, many TAer's may not care to integrate this sort of gameplay.

    All around, the game is impressive and definitely deserves some praise. $50 praise? Maybe not. When mentioning its mishandled storyline or musical appeal to only a specific crowd, many are going to consider it just as sour as I did - and I think that should be brought up.