Developer Q? Entertainment’s Child of Eden finds players in a happier place than the game it was inspired by, the trippy 2001 musical shooter Rez.
Rez, for those who may have missed it on the Dreamcast, PlayStation 2 or Xbox Live Arcade, is an on-rails shooter built on the multi-sensory concept of synaesthesia and the abstract works of artist Wassily Kandinsky. Players floated through a computer system, shooting down enemies to the beat of a techno soundtrack, adding their own musical flair with carefully timed shots.
While Rez was often dark, rigid and cold, a virtual world comprised of wireframes and hard angles, Child of Eden feels organic, rich and joyous. The creative director of both games, Q? Entertainment founder Tetsuya Mizuguchi, describes the original Rez as “primitive” and “minimal” compared to Child of Eden, which trades Tron-like visuals for something that feels more alive.
One of the game’s five levels – or “Archives”, in Child of Eden speak – veers away from the computerised invasion of Rez notably. That level, Evolution, sees players orbiting an abstract whale, firing musical bullets at lighted barnacles on its surface. As the level progresses and the environment changes from something oceanic to galactic; the whale-like creature changes form, becomes more aerodynamic and, ultimately, evolves into a burning lifeform reminiscent of a phoenix.
Brighter visuals, cheerier music and a unique control method – the game is compatible with Microsoft’s Kinect controller for the Xbox 360 – make Child of Eden feel very different from the Dreamcast and PlayStation 2 game that inspired it.
It’s About A Girl
Child of Eden tells the story of Lumi, the first human being born in space. More serious Q? Entertainment fans may recognise that name as the face of the musical group Genki Rockets, the conceptual band produced by Q? creative director Tetsuya Mizuguchi and comprised of largely anonymous musical contributors.
The fiction of Genki Rockets extends to Child of Eden, as scientists from the far future, well after Lumi’s death, attempt to revive her consciousness in Eden. Players are called to Eden to purify it of viruses, shooting through five unique stages.
Those stages will be set to the work of Genki Rockets, meaning the band’s energetic, upbeat brand of electronic pop-rock will serve as your musical accompaniment while restoring Eden and Lumi to life.
While playing two levels from Child of Eden at Tokyo Game Show, we recognised a pair of heavily remixed Genki Rockets tracks, “Star Line” and “Heavenly Star”. Again, Q? fans will remember the latter track from the game Lumines II.
For those unfamiliar with Genki Rockets, here’s a quick primer.
Kinect Vs The Controller
The two Archives we experienced at Tokyo Game Show were known as “Matrix” and “Beauty”. The former was only playable via the Xbox 360’s Kinect controller, the latter with an Xbox 360 gamepad. Both had their pros and cons. Both made us happy to be experience Child of Eden.
Playing Child of Eden with a Kinect controller was not, by any means, perfect. Waving one’s hand through the air to control the game’s targeting reticule and locking on to enemies, then flicking one’s hand to unload a burst of fire, was quickly tiring and not reliably accurate.
Fortunately, the alternate shot method, a rapid fire attack, alleviates some of the physical stress of playing Child of Eden with your body. To switch between the two shot types, players need only clap their hands. The game detects the motion, not the sound of the clap.
To unleash a screen clearing bomb attack, players need to raise their hands above their heads. Waving them in the air, as if they don’t care, however, is not required.
There was noticeable lag while playing Child of Eden with Kinect, most likely a product of the hardware, not the software. But playing the game with Kinect was my preferred method, if only for the sensation that it brought me closer to the game, making me feel like an interactive part of the experience.
Playing the “Beauty” archive, the organic whale escorting level, with a controller certainly felt more reliable. It also provided the vibrating tactile feedback that was a feature of the original Rez.