Review: Child of Eden (PS3)
Title: Child of Eden
Release Date: September 27, 2011
Developer: Q Entertainment
Original MSRP: $39.99
ESRB Rating: E10+
There was a time in the lifespan of the Dreamcast and PS2 when word started floating-around about a new music-based game coming from one of the true masters, Tetsuya Mizuguchi. He had turned a lot of heads with Space Channel 5, but Rez was something unique and experimental, in a good way. When Rez hit stores in 2002, I bought it for the Dreamcast initially, and I was blown away. Eventually, I bought it for the PS2 as well, and it remains one of my favorite games, which is surprising since I’m usually not attracted to games that are built around music (I really didn’t get into “Rhythm Games” until Rock Band.)
When I heard that a spiritual successor was in the works, I freaked-out, but then my heart fell to the floor when it was announced for Kinect, and no mention was made of a PS3 version. I couldn’t believe it, and I tried every avenue I could to find out if it was truly coming to the PS3. It got so bad that I actually considered buying a Kinect for it, even though this would probably be the only game I ever used it for. When Q Entertainment finally announced that it was coming to PS3 though, I breathed a sigh of relief. I really don’t believe in Kinect or the tech, and I didn’t want to reinforce Microsoft’s stance because of my needs for this one game. Enough background though, let’s see if it translates well to the PS3.
The game is really designed to be played with the Move controller, but it can easily be played with the Dual Shock 3 as well (Rez was played with a regular controller, and even on the Dreamcast, it worked very well.) The basic principle is to pass-over an enemy with the reticule to “lock-on” to up-to 8 targets, then you hit the trigger/button to fire a spread shot at those targets. Also, you can hold the trigger/button down to fire a gun, which is especially effective against any target that is colored purple. In essence, this is an on-rails shooter, as you never control your direction through the levels. But this game is so much more than that, and if you’ve played Rez before, you’ll have a good understanding of what you’re in for.
Unlike many games that are Move enabled, where you can simply hold the controller in your hand and move with your wrist, Child of Eden plays more like how a Kinect game would (but now you have buttons, YAY) in that the controller is tracked in relation to its position on the screen. So, if you want to move the reticule to the upper-right of the screen, the Move controller actually needs to be in that position instead of simply pointed there from a central location. Once you figure it out, and get things calibrated correctly, it works wonderfully. While I was playing, I thought about if I’d have actually been playing with Kinect, and it seemed like without buttons, it’d be really jarring. You can find out how it’s played on Kinect for the most part, as the gestures used are still present if you want to try them.
So, in the PS3 version, you merely need to swipe over your intended targets to get a lock, then you hit the trigger to fire your spread. The alternate (Kinect) method is to lock-on to the targets, and then swipe horizontally across the screen to fire, which I tried. It definitely made things noticeably tougher when multiple waves were coming in. To fire the special shot, which is essentially a bomb to wipe out everything on the screen, is merely a press of the Move button. Using the Kinect method, you would raise both hands in the air, which could get sloppy if you were using the 2-hand control scheme. I can see how you may get more “in to” the game using both of your hands, but the 2 available Kinect control methods both seem to have an encumbrance that would get annoying (the alternate control scheme is clap your hands to switch between the tracer gun and the regular fire mode, which would suck on level 3 especially.)
*note*Move calibration can be tricky if you don’t understand the instructions. They ask you to hit the Move button, then point at the camera lens and hold the Move button. At that point, don’t extend you arm straight and instead just point it from whatever position you’ll normally hold the controller. The last step though, is what confused myself and a couple others. It asks you to wave the controller around, then to extend your arm straight out to your side and hit the Move button. But I found that if you don’t extend your arm all the way, that the controls and the tracking work MUCH better. Just take your time and don’t be afraid to do the calibration over until it tracks the way you want.
I’ve played Rez for years with a regular controller, and Child of Eden doesn’t disappoint in this area at all. The controls are very straightforward with the Dual Shock 3, as you move the reticule with the left stick , hold X to lock-on, and fire the Tracer with Square. Movement and speed are great, and feel very similar to how Rez played.
Honestly though, if you have to choose, go with the Move controls. You can get around much faster and more accurately, and it just works. You can tell that a lot of time was spent on the motion controls, but it does play very well with the controller as well. The menus adapt to the control schemes as well, and switching between Move and Standard controls is done with a couple of button presses, which is quite impressive.
Indescribably stunning, and in 3D, I don’t have the words. This is a game that seriously begs to be played in 3D, so those out there that have the means, you need to buy this game no matter what. It’s a Tour de force of visual stimuli, with a liberal use of color and animation. It’s a trippy experience overall, and should probably be considered a work of art in even the snootiest of art galleries. The animation is smoother than creamy peanut butter, and the amount of movement guarantees a kinetic frenzy of colors and shapes that will force your mouth agape in amazement.
Even if you’re not playing in 3D, the game is still impressive among any challenger. The framerate is silky-smooth, and because each level has a different theme, you’ll never get bored with what you’re watching (check the gallery below, but to get the best idea, you’ll need to see it in action.) I can’t put into words how great the visuals are in Child of Eden, it’s just… superb in every way.
A wonderful addition they’ve made is a mode that’s selectable in the options to play through the levels without the worry of taking any damage, simply so that you can experience the game fully without worrying about the gameplay. Your scores won’t be applied to the online leaderboards, nor will you get any items etc, but it’s an option that I urge everyone to use sometime, just to be able to experience everything in a stress-free session. Overall, this is one of the best games visually that you will ever encounter.
One last bit of info is the unlockables, which include different visual styles and filters that can be applied so that the game can be played with different visual styles. The picture below is using one of the styles, and as you can see, it’s pretty unique. Other unlockables include a picture and video gallery, items to be placed in Lumi’s garden, and some other misc stuff.
Tetsuya Mizuguchi has a reputation for integrating an awesome aural design into his creations, and Child of Eden doesn’t disappoint. With music supplied by Genki Rockets (Lumines 2, No More Heroes,) is what can probably be categorized as Trance music, the last piece of the puzzle comes together and fits perfectly with the other components. As in Rez (without the rumble peripheral however) the controller rumbles perfectly with the beats of the music as a further extension of the experience. I never checked if custom soundtracks are available (I doubt it) since the music is completely interwoven with the rest of the gameplay elements. The audio design is fantastic, and coming from some of his other games, it still exceeds my expectations.
There isn’t any multiplayer or online play available, but Online Leaderboards are available for all modes, and filters allow you to check the full boards or those that only include your friends list.
I never actually played the 360 version of this game, and I’m glad I waited. As a Rez fan, I couldn’t be happier with Child of Eden, as it’s definitely going to be in that same category of games that I play every couple of months, no matter how old it gets. Tetsuya Mizuguchi has outdone himself again, and even for someone that hasn’t played Rez before, grab this game. It’s incredibly unique, and is as much an experience as it is a game. The game may be a bit short from beginning to end, but it’s not about the finishing, it’s about the experience while you play.