Child of Eden is not the only sequel to a cult favorite but also one of the most well-received games to use the Xbox 360's Kinect, with a Metacritic average of 85 surpassing even Dance Central's 82.
As with its predecessor, Rez (2002), players take down enemies in an evolving environment, one whose music and graphics change as progress is made. Storywise, Machinima sums it up well: "You're flying through the Internet of the future to save the digital version of the first girl born in space."
"Each weapon has its own contextual audio effect," explains Jose Otero for 1UP. "The tracer adds a layer of snare drums to everything while the lock-on inserts a larger mix of audio samples." The result is "a remarkable audio-visual first person shooter" with "some of the most lush, colorful, and visually interesting spaces I've seen in a game."
It's perfectly playable with a standard controller, though that didn't stop Joystiq's Griffin McElroy calling it "the most complete realization of what the Kinect has to offer." That said, there's one stumbling block. "It is quite short" he noted, with most reviewers clocking the game at somewhere between 60 and 90 minutes long.
But, like the acclaimed LIMBO, Portal, and indeed just like Rez before it, to measure this game solely by means of a single playthrough's length is to miss Griffin's point: " Child of Eden is absolutely essential."
John Blyth, writing for the
Official Xbox Magazine UK, was also ready to address concerns over length.
Reminding readers that "if you're going to get your money's worth out of Child of Eden, then you have to be ready to replay levels," he concludes that it is "a stunning experience that's worth repeating for its own sake."
Replaying the game means that "you start putting a bit of finesse into it" and, for those with the 360's
peripheral du jour, "start feeling more comfortable using Kinect than in any game yet released for the system."
Eurogamer's exuberant take, penned by Simon Parkin, tells us that Eden is "an audio-visual journey in every sense of the word," "an out-of-body tour through human history," and a "transcendent experience, the kind you might have alone in a 2am club, or atop a mountain at sunrise with your headphones on."
Child of Eden may have replaced the third-person view of Rez with a more immediate first-person perspective but, in contrast to shooter genre tropes, Simon found himself firing "not to destroy, but to build" with bullets that act as "catalysts for creation, causing flowers to blossom or triggering deep-sea creature shapes to evolve."
Equally, Child of Eden can be tackled in a competitive manner, matching scores with friends and working out how to maximize each and every point-nabbing opportunity by taking down enemies in groups of eight and swatting them in time with the beat. "It's not as easy as it sounds," according to Machinima, meaning that "you have a great dynamic that rewards those with both the skill and courage to pull off difficult sections."
However, there's a word of caution. "I'd recommend this game without caveat to the right person, but you may want to make sure you're that person first."
How do you know if you're the right person? One place to start is Ubisoft's Child of Eden video playlist ( youtube.com/user/ubisoft#g/c/E620A7ECB6F6E5AB).
Another might be to take up Jon Blyth's recommendation: "Download Rez HD for the excruciatingly reasonable price of 800MP, and give the decade-old inspiration a test drive." There's also a free trial of the very same on the Xbox 360's online Marketplace.
Available on Xbox 360 with support for both standard controllers and the Kinect sensor, Child of Eden will arrive on PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Move by September. The recommended retail price is $49 / €49 / £29.