PAX East 2011: Child of Eden Hands-On

Child of Eden psychadelic squid thing

One of the more prominent booths on PAX East's exhibition floor this year was the one showcasing Ubisoft's Child of Eden -- the psychotropic audio/visual extravaganza for Kinect.

If you didn't already know, Child of Eden is the latest title from Tetsuya Mizuguchi -- the man behind Rez, Lumines and Space Channel 5. If you are at all familiar with Rez, or indeed Rez HD, you'll be right at home with Child of Eden.

The game mechanics and control scheme are practically identical. You float through a psychotropic fugue of shapes and colors, accompanied by an ambient trance soundtrack. Objects of varying strangeness float into view, which you can target in multiples of 8, and then release the fire button to destroy them in one go. Each lock-on, missile launch or enemy death lets out a pleasant musical note or percussion tap in sync with the background music.

The only differences that I saw were that Child of Eden is a first-person perspective game, versus the 3rd person view of  Rez. The graphics contain less abstract shapes and more elaborate, solid constructs, and you have a second, rapid-fire gun that is overall weaker than the lock-on missiles, but is required to take down specific enemy types.

Child of Eden Boss

With Child of Eden being a Kinect title, it's all controlled with your arms rather than the controller. Your right arm controls the lock-on, missile-firing gun, and your left arm controls the rapid-fire gun. With either arm, you can move your viewpoint around the environment by pushing your hand out to the boundaries of the TV.

The lock-on/fire missile control works like this: As you wave your hand over enemies, you acquire a lock on each, as you would when targeting enemies in Rez, however the firing motion is performed by bringing your right arm back and then thrusting it forward, Muad D'ib-style, to unleash the payload. The left arm gun simply sprays bullets at all times, so no additional action is required other than to simply wave your hand around. An important point to note here is that you can only hold one hand up at a time. Additionally, when in a tight spot, you can deploy a smart bomb by thrusting both hands up in the air, though these smart bombs must be accrued over time.

Child of Eden tunnel

If you're like me, you loved Rez when it came out. Child of Eden is essentially Rez 2. Aside from the beautiful graphics and the addition of a second weapon, it really is the same game, but with one big exception: I cannot stress enough how much more enjoyable Kinect makes this. Standing in front of a big TV screen with these bizarrely mesmerizing scenes rushing up to meet you is an experience in itself. Add to that the smooth hand and arm movements required to destroy enemies and you have yourself a winner.

I played Child of Eden for ten minutes, and even though I thoroughly enjoyed my time with it, I felt that ten minutes was enough. I certainly wasn't craving more time with it. Whether there is enough variety beyond what I saw to keep players entertained past the ten minute mark is anyone's guess at this point.

Look for Child of Eden to hit retail in North America on June 14, 2011 for Xbox 360. As we already reported, the PS3 version has not been given a release date yet.

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