Child of Eden – Kinect hands-on preview

We love Rez at GamesRadar, so much so that we included it in our 100 best games of all time (opens in new tab) at the #84 slot. Child of Eden, the spiritual successor to Rez by creator Tetsuya Mizuguchi, easily takes the seed that Rez planted and builds upon it with its lush visuals and wonderfully crafted music.

Our previous hands-on (opens in new tab) with Child of Eden and Kinect involved a less-than-stellar experience with the motion controls having a hard time picking up our movements, but the current preview copy that we were provided with solved this issue.

As expected, Child of Eden is rich with vibrant colors, pulsating patterns and distinct themes for each stage. Whereas the Passion level is all steampunk-gone-Technicolor with gates fashioned out of oversized gears, the Evolution stage is a swirling dive into an imaginary sea complete with jellyfish like enemies and giant whales. The music and sound effects also change per level. For instance, in the underwater section of Evolution, firing at enemy projectiles leads to a pleasant bubble pop-like sound.

Using your hand to control a reticle to lock-on to targets works very well. However, if your Kinect is set up fairly low to the floor (ours just tops out at the minimum 2-feet high mark) you’ll find that you’ll be awkwardly waving your arm around the general vicinity of your thighs and waist in order to target anything. Firing requires a quick forward movement of your hand and, for the most part, that worked fairly well, but we did find that there was a tendency to reach towards the screen during gameplay which required even more dramatic movements in order to blast enemies. Euphoria, which is essentially a screen-clearing explosion and can be collected throughout each stage, is activated by throwing both hands in the air. Whooping with glee is optional.

Players have two options of play with the Kinect. Type A, which is what we preferred, has your right hand mapped to the aforementioned lock-on reticle while your left hand is used for a rapid fire shot effective against enemy projectiles. These projectiles are always purple, so it’s easy to know when to switch between the two weapons. Type B requires clapping your hands to switch, but we found this was awkward when things got more hectic on screen.

Thankfully, those of us who have not adopted the Kinect will be glad to know that the controls for Child of Eden work equally well without it. In fact, after playing through one stage, we found we needed a break from arm-waving to play with the controller. Though the action of moving your hand around to target enemies seems right at home and translates well, fatigue can set in quickly. The game differentiates between the two methods of input and stages that were previously cleared with the Kinect must be cleared again when a controller is used. However, it’s hard to deny the cool factor of playing with the motion controls. The combination of visuals, music and lack of controller with the Kinect feels very futuristic and it’s possible that those who have been holding out on adopting a Kinect for lack of a killer app may find that Child of Eden is the answer.

May 5, 2011

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