Few games have had as powerful a combination of sight, sound, and action as Rez, Tetsuya Mizuguchi’s music-driven shooter, so when Mizuguchi demonstrated its spiritual successor at last year’s E3, I was sold on it instantly. Child of Eden plays much like a Rez sequel, but with its Kinect controls, it feels like a very different experience.
It’s a very pretty game, of course, and with a controller that would probably be about the end of it, but the Kinect controls not only work well, but they feel great. You sweep across the screen with your right hand to target groups of enemies, and then push your hand forward to fire; there’s also a rapid-fire attack that you can target with your left hand. Firing in time with the music gives you a scoring bonus, and with many sequences calling for rapid switches between the two firing modes, you start to feel like some bad-ass Jedi conductor.
Or rather, a bad-ass Jedi conductor that’s tripping balls.
The Kinect controls do suffer from the odd mis-detection, but once you get used to how it works it’s easy to keep them to a minimum. I had the best luck holding my right hand fairly close to my body, giving myself plenty of room to push it forward to fire. I also found it important to keep my inactive hand by my side, to prevent any accidental firing-mode switches. You can play it with a controller, and I’ve no doubt I’d score better that way, but it wouldn’t be as much fun.
Like Rez, Child of Eden isn’t a long game — the main game takes no more than 2-3 hours — but there’s a lot of fun to be had in replaying the levels for higher scores, or just for the experience. However, it does lacks some of the sense of mystery and wonder that came from playing Rez. Playing through Area 5 in Rez is a powerful, chilling, and uplifting experience, and while I’m glad Child of Eden doesn’t try to simply replicate that experience — you can’t go home again, as they say — it does feel like it’s missing some of Rez’s emotional highs.
Despite that, it’s still a brilliant game, and perhaps the best demonstration yet of Kinect’s ability to deliver precise, responsive controls.