The Perfect Kinect Experience?
Me and my Kinect, we never seem to get along. A recent purchase with the underlying excuse of "research" due to the nature of my job, I already realised that my living room was insufficient for the demands of the somehow-sentient box of tricks. That nod of its head when it powered up for the first time... it always felt judgemental. If it could shake its head at the lack of playspace in front of my television, it wouldn't surprise me one jot.
Microsoft's market research obviously took into account the atypical American sitcom house - living rooms the size of hangar bays. The swagger of these rooms, they have enough space for two player Kinect hijinks and you could still keep the coffee table in its original location. Admittedly, the selection of Kinect games out there is sufficient, but in no way truly inspiring. I had the best motive for my Kinect purchase though - Child of Eden.
I admit it. I have a Rez Trance Vibrator. This dubiously ambigious, oversized USB dongle added an extra sense of sensory synthesia. My Rez-obsessed fanboyism glossed over the fact that it could be used for more sexually deprived usage, instead finding the least painful way to introduce it around my person without too much intrusion. I'm sure at one point I was playing Rez while biting down on the Trance Vibrator, the hope that it would reverberate through my skull and tickle my eardrums even more directly.
So when Child of Eden was announced, my thoughts were instantly "Rez 2! OMFG!". I often daydreamed of the possibility of a next generation Rez. So much more graphical horsepower to take advantage of, so many more visual possibilities. The very fact I own a Rez Trance Vibrator proves my peripheral fetish of Dreamcast legend would forever doom me to a purchaser of game-enhancing gameplay plastic. I really could not play Child of Eden without Kinect. Day one purchase? Fuck, yes.
An hour later and I'm a tired, sweaty mess of a man. Yes, I have a grin on my face fuelled by associated synapses being tickled by the game's luscious visuals; fragments of an audio dreamscape are still bouncing around my eardrums. My right arm is aching for the right or wrong reason... I can't decide. I look back on my Rez experiences of the past and consider how far we've come as gamers... maybe the MIcrosoft hype machine is right. You are the controller.
There are still compromises though - there's no vibration to be had. I have heard whispers... stories of controller-enabled bondage gear which allows the user to insert four wireless controllers on his or her person and totally immerse themselves into the digital wonder that is Eden. Did I dream it? Those Q Entertainment developers are not denying it. Nope. I missed that tactile connection to the game, the sense that there's a tangible presence besides a seasoned-yet-jaded gamer wrangling his arms about in front of a television screen. Of course, you can play the game with a controller and rock it old skool - the game is, after all, not a fully-dedicated purple boxed Kinect-branded product.
What the Kinect experience does give to those wishing to experience synthesisa in a different way is the sweaty afterglow of a prolonged hour-long session of arm waving. In my younger days, I would frequent many nightclubs. My deformed face prevented me from successful lady-contact, though I always considered that a low priority when I could wave my arms about to hypnotic beats and dance up a storm. When you play the game though, scoop up eight targets with your right hand and punch towards the screen in time to the cacophony of sounds, there's a feeling which is not only extremely satisfying, but also incredibly potent. It's also incredibly tiring.
Child of Eden for Kinect gives this direct connection to my memories. The original Rez had a sense of relief through audio and visuals with every zone's completition, though I wasn't a physical wreck. It's that chill-out moment, the totting up of percentile scores and the possible unlocking of new modes. Thankfully Child of Eden has plenty of unlocks to acquire too - it most definitely is the successor to Rez. The sequel I've always dreamt of.
It feels like I've only scratched the surface of Child of Eden. It demands repeated playthroughs to unlock more matrices and content, and the addition of a left-handed rapid-fire "tracer" mode adds an additional layer of strategy which I totally appreciate. As a Kinect experience, it's one of the least frustrating but also one of the most exhilarating. Q Entertainment have created something which not only celebrates the Kinect, it complements it.