When Child of Eden was given to me to review, the first thing many people asked me, after having seen what it's all about, was, "How the heck are you going to describe this game? It's true, this style of game is unlike anything that has come out before, which is precisely why it makes the game all the more entertaining. Breaking new ground in the gaming world is always a hard feat, yet Ubisoft achieved a great result with their efforts in Child of Eden.
The story begins with a high-quality video of a ridiculously beautiful girl in white, Lumi, who's within the perfect world of Eden itself. As she interacts with the scenery, a binary-like intruder appears and begins to infect her world. She panics as this virus engulfs Eden, and Lumi herself is taken over and disappears. The game ends the scene with the words: "Save Eden. Save Lumi." Thus begins your quest.
The level screen shows Lumi floating beautifully in all-white in the centre of the screen, with several different planets slowly circling around the starry universe. You are only able to access one planet to start, with the difficulty of the level reflecting the fact it's the first planet. As you complete each level, you earn stars which accumulate and go toward unlocking other planets, with the hardest planets being the last to unlock. You can also customize Lumi's background based on what you've unlocked in each planet, changing the creatures, surfaces, and even the tune, of the level selection screen. Once you choose a planet to play, you are delved into a mini-musical adventure, with you as the conductor.
With your glowing Move controller as your weapon, the first planet guides you through a tutorial as you play so you can learn the simple rules to the game. Your default weapon is a lock-on gun, where you scan over your targets to lock-on, and when you're ready or the gun is at maximum-lock, you flick your controller hand forward to shoot. When you hold down the trigger button, the controller becomes a rapid-fire gun where you ratta-tatta all the baddies you aim for. As you progress in the game, certain viruses can only be eradicated with certain guns, so you must change it up accordingly. Even further on in the game, if you shoot something with the wrong gun, bombs will spurt out and you'll have that much more trouble to deal with.
There's also a weapon called 'Euphoria', which appears as a floating purple and black orb. You shoot it to store it for future use, and you activate it by pressing the Move button; this affects all enemies on the screen which can be a life-saver at times. Blue life orbs will appear periodically as well and, so long as you shoot them, they will add to your health meter.
As you play, purple bombs are shot at you by various enemies at various intervals. Since they are purple-coloured, just like purple enemies, you can only use your rapid-fire gun to destroy them. You'll hear a particular sound while they're still a threat to you, and the screen will point in the direction they're coming from so you know where to shoot. If it's off-screen, you simply hold your controller to the far side of the screen to 'turn' and face a new section of the level and eradicate those bombs.
The visuals are stunning, constantly changing and keeping your retina's busy. The PlayStation version has the bonus of 3D visuals available to those privy to a 3D TV, and I would imagine the effect would be phenomenal. Those who do not have a 3D TV, like myself, will find the graphics not quite as crisp as on the Kinect, almost lackluster in comparison; you can thank PlayStation's 720p resolution which simply cannot compete with Xbox 360s 1080p.
CoE is a rail-shooter, so you don't have to worry about whether you're going the right way; you're free to absorb yourself in the eye-candy without too many repercussions. I can guarantee that everyone who plays this will have several "whoa" moments as they go, even more-so as you're fighting a boss; when it's about to be cured of the virus, crazy splashes of an animated Lumi flash on-and-off in a strobe-light fashion in the background, giving a visual impression of her trying to break free.
It's no wonder this game has a seizure warning, but what a seizure it would be!
A great feature that really has you feeling involved is the difference in sound-fx, based on which gun you use. Your senses are already feeling greatly overwhelmed (in an awesome way) by the visuals and the music, so adding on the idea that each gun plays a different sort of musical 'sound' as you shoot it makes it all the better.
You can play the game with the regular PS3 controller, but it's not even half as fun and is less accurate; I played better using the Move controller. With that said, however, the Kinect's fluid, hands-free game-play immerses you in the game far more effectively, surpassing the Move's controller capabilities.
Aside from crisper visuals, the only thing that could really be improved upon is the lack of checkpoints. Each time you complete one you get to unlock an item from that planet's Garden to be displayed on that planet's version of the level-select background; there's no question they were designed to be replayed several times over. With that said, it becomes very frustrating when you're playing a level, you get really far and die, only to have to start from the very beginning. Each level has obvious 'sections' to it, so I don't see why you can't start from the beginning of the section you were in when you died instead of playing the whole thing over again. Having to start from 'scratch' of sometimes really long levels in order to unlock just one thing will make you a wee bit frustrated, especially if you're not very good and have to replay the level 'x' amount of times just to finish it. Yes, while it's very fun and you will 100% want to replay the levels anyway, it's one of those games where inevitably you'll become the master of the first half of each level, while remaining an amateur of the last half of each.
Even so, should Ubisoft release some DLC of the same calibre as what's already in-game, I can see this becoming a permanent addition to anyone's collection.
How would I describe Child of Eden in the end? It's a game that has you conducting a symphony of music and colour, composed by a talented producer with A.D.D. It's a visual representation of pure imagination, complete with its own soundtrack. It's what people on excessive hallucinogens must see when they hear electronic music, and you don't have to take anything to see it too. I could describe it a million ways, and yet not one description will be adequate. Simply put, it is an experience, and one that everyone needs to try. Child of Eden is exclusive to the Xbox 360 and Kinect, and is already in stores waiting for you to, "Save Eden. Save Lumi."