During the Tokyo Game Show, a little more than two weeks ago, Ubisoft invited us to a preview/interview event with Q Entertainment for their new project Child of Eden, unveiled last June at E3. We got to play the game of course, but also to chat with the developers of one of the rare Kinect titles aimed at gamers. Needless to say we also didn’t forget to ask a few questions to Tetsuya Mizuguchi while we were there. Check it out inside!
It’s not really a secret, Child of Eden is the spiritual successor to Rez in everything but name, certainly due to some obscure intellectual property reasons. The game itself is basically the same type as its ancestor: A rail shooter in esoteric environments, played to the tune of electronic music. No surprise here, but as a fan of Rez I’m not complaining at all.
We got to try and play two levels of the game. The first one, the one unveiled at E3, was only playable using Kinect. The second one was brand new, and was the result of 3 sleepless nights for the developers to get it more or less ready for the event. It was far from finished, but it was still quite interesting, especially since we could try and play the game with a game pad like Rez.
So let’s start with this new level, that you’ll also be able to discover for yourself with our video. After a rather slow start, the level gets faster and faster to finish on a high note with a beautiful phoenix (that the developers use as an animated screen saver, they told us). No doubt about it, this level put the gameplay/music integration of the game like no other. As for the gameplay, it’s as simple as ever. The A button when pressed will lock all targets under the cursor, and letting go of the button fires on all these targets at one. It’s also possible to fire directly with the right trigger, and to launch bombs with X. And that’s about all that anyone needs to know to play the game. It would be difficult to have a simpler control setup, and that’s why Child of Eden also works well as a Kinect game.
Kinect then, which we got to try with the E3 playable demo. As you may know, here at Gamersyde we aren’t really fans of this new technology, quite interesting on paper, but in the end way too limited for Gamer titles. So it was with quite a bit of skepticism that we went and placed ourselves in front of Microsoft’s 3D camera. After all the videos showing some lag between the player movements and what happened on the screen, we had every reason to be worried. But in the end, after just one minute, it’s almost completely forgotten. Let’s be fair here, it works very well, but it’s also incredibly fun and it conveys quite an out of this world feeling.
Contrary to many other Kinect titles that require the player to move around like a crazy person, Child of Eden is all about moderation. Just a single hand held up to move the cursor, a fast movement to fire, plus two special moves: Clap hands to switch between “painting” mode and auto fire (required from time to time), and move both hands up in the air for the happy bomb(banzai gesture). A very simple setup, and one that doesn’t make you feel at all like a fool when playing. It’s a pleasure to play, but also to watch someone else do the motions.
The E3 level was far more complex than the one before, requiring to switch between both modes quite a few times. Some sequences also actually required good reflexes to destroy walls before crashing into them. As a whole, the progression is very well done, and despite the very simple controls, the actions are very varied and don’t feel repetitive in the slightest.
The gameplay itself certainly works, either with the good old gamepad but also using Kinect, and I don’t think anyone expected any less from Tetsuya Mizuguchi. And when you say Mizuguchi, you know his own electronic/jpop band Genki Rockets isn’t far behind, along with its virtual idol Lumi. She’s now nothing less than the main character of the game, with her likeness and voice getting more and more important as the game progresses. Fans of Rez's more “techno” music may be disappointed by this much lighter style of music, but it doesn’t diminish in any way the importance of the music in the whole experience. There is no doubt about it, Child of Eden, just like Rez, is a game created around its soundtrack, and not the other way around.
We had high hopes about Child of Eden, and we haven’t been disappointed in the slightest. As expected, this game is the true successor of Rez, and will certainly be the only one for quite some time to make old-school gamers like us think about actually buying a Kinect camera.
I walked away from the demo wanting to play it more, (I played it 9 times during the press event) as it was like no other game I've ever played before. In fact, it's not a game in my eyes, it's an experience, an experience I've never had the pleasure of experiencing up until now. Kinect gave me a new experience of controller free gaming, something I didn't think was possible given today's technology. Even at this early stage of development, I feel that Mizuguchi has delivered on Microsoft's promise of controller free gaming. I felt like a conductor conducting and electronic light show. After the press event had finished, all I could think about for the next few days was Child of Eden. Tetsuya Mizuguchi has sold me on the technology I didn't think I wanted. Suffice to say, Child of Eden blew me away with its stunning visuals and perfectly paced music. Child of Eden was definitely my game of TGS.