Child of Eden is a visual masterpiece set in a future where humanity uses a more advanced version of our internet, called Eden, in just about every aspect of their lives. Not so dissimilar from today, except for the part where scientists take all of the memories and experiences of one woman and store them in Eden, eventually using all of those memories in an attempt to recreate Lumi (who has actually been dead for hundreds of years). The scientists succeed, and virtual Lumi wakes up, only to have data corruption poison her paradise.
This is where the player comes in, since the entire point of the game is to battle through five levels in order to purge Eden of its corruption and save Lumi. The controls are simple with only two ammunition types. Continuous fire is used to eliminate purple targets while the other weapon can lock onto up to eight targets, or the same target eight times and then fire more powerful shots all at once.
This is where rhythm is required, as the right timing on targeting and firing earns multipliers for higher scores. The higher your score the more stars are awarded at the end of each level. Should you ever use the wrong type of ammo on an enemy, you will know instantly. Instead of a pleasant beat that enhances the soundtrack, you are presented with a loud fog-horn like sound that very clearly lets you know to try again.
Along with the two types of ammunition, players may also use bombs which, as you might imagine, knock out anything on the screen, including enemy bullets.
Since you are on rails, all you need to worry about is aiming and looking around. This can get tricky at times, since enemy fire can come from any direction off screen and if you miss the warning arrow, which tells you where to look, you will lose one of your five lives.
As I mentioned above, Child of Eden is beautiful, a real visual treat. When combined with the upbeat, fast-paced music, the end result becomes one of the best rhythm based action games I have ever played. Each of the five levels is centered on a different theme and while most enemies retain basic attack patterns and have similar methods required to kill them from level to level, their looks change to better compliment the level’s visual structure.
Although I never played Rez, another of Tetsuya Mizuguchi’s creations, it’s fairly obvious that Child of Eden follows in the same vein of his older title, though the graphics and music are updated to take full advantage of the Xbox 360’s superior technology. I applaud both Q Entertainment and Ubisoft for making this a reality.
Still, there are only five levels and they are not very long. Each one takes about 15 minutes to complete, which may not seem like very much, but there are plenty of challenges to get more mileage out of it. Granted all of the extras are unnecessary and if you are only interested in beating the game once there is not much meat there. It would have been nice if the experience lasted a bit longer.
My only real complaint with Child of Eden is the difficulty. The only difficulty level is normal, which meant that when I got stuck I was unable to scale down the challenge to help me continue to the next level. This in turn meant mounting frustration as I replayed the same level again and again (since there are no checkpoints, death meant starting over at the beginning each time) in an attempt to progress to the next stage.
A level that I had, at first, found enchanting and fun slowly morphed into a grating and irritating journey. I found myself no longer marveling at the enchanting level design, or nodding my head along to the infectious beat of the music. My sole objective became to get through the level so that I could play on.
Which is a shame, and I felt that I was not only cheating myself but that the game deserved my full appreciation, something I could no longer give, due to my annoyance at my own lack of skill.
It is a testament to the quality of Child of Eden that, despite my own embarrassing lack of finesse, I would recommend it to just about anyone and would even play it again just for fun. The visuals were great, the music fit seamlessly. All blending to create the quality of the overall experience.