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Get Yourself Kinected To Q Entertainment's Child Of Eden

Clapping hands and happy bombs... yep, it's a Miz game alright.

In case you were still wondering, Child of Eden is Rez in HD. I mean, yeah, they already made a Rez HD--that was actually Rez, the original, in high-definition. But Eden is a true and proper sequel in everything but name, an extravaganza of sound, light, and lock-on shooting just like you remember from Tetsuya Mizuguchi's Dreamcast classic, now in higher resolution. Yeah, they're making another one! Unless something goes wildly wrong during development, it's almost a given this new game will be pretty great. 

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I got to play a short demo of Eden at an Ubisoft event recently, and you probably won't be surprised to hear that it's looking to be chock-full of all the neon electric three-headed squids and uplifting club beats you'd expect from a sequel to Rez. The demo was a little stripped down--there's no in-game UI in place at the moment, and you had unlimited ammo in the brief sample level--but at least I got a sense for the core mechanics. Just like before, you move a cursor around the screen, locking onto targets and firing a flurry of energy shots to take them down. There's a secondary rapid fire beam that shoots out in a straight line and sort of repulses things away from you. And then there's the happy bomb. Use that and the screen fills with sparkles, you hear some delightful sound effects, and... everything dies. But damnit, it dies with a smile on its face! Assuming it has a face. Most of the "enemies" are colored blocks and things.

Anyway, Child of Eden is pretty close to a known quantity. It's sort of like, "Yeah, you're making another one of those? Cool, call me when it's done." I got kind of a first-level-of-Lumines vibe from some of the music in this short demo, and in between all the abstract shapes flying around I think I saw a couple quick glimpses of dancing girls that were cut into the action. It definitely feels like something Mizuguchi would make.

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What was not known about Child of Eden until recently was how the game will play with Kinect, and that's where things get a little iffy.  
How it's supposed to play is simple enough to understand: Hold your hand out in front of you and move it around to guide your target cursor around the screen. In lock-on mode, you just paint up to eight targets with your reticle to lock onto them, then sort of thrust your hand at the screen to shoot them down. The secondary repulsor beam simply shoots constantly in rapid fire when it's enabled, and amusingly you get to clap your hands to change weapons. As for the happy bomb, you throw your hands up in the air. What else would you do to use something called a happy bomb?

In practice, these functions mostly worked, but they didn't all work as responsively as I wanted. The basic aiming felt precise, but the cursor's movement seemed to lag a fraction of a second behind my own hand movement, and a couple of times the reticle jumped to another position entirely, when I tried to adjust my arm. Thrusting my hand toward the screen to fire off my lock-on shots was inconsistent; sometimes it worked on the first try, but I'd have to repeat the motion once or twice at other times to get it to register. And, you know, it's kind of tiring to hold your arm directly out in front of you for long periods of time, but it seemed to throw off the camera a bit when I tried to switch arms (though maybe it's to the game's credit that I was able to switch arms at all).

On the other hand, the Kinect had no problem reading me when I clapped or threw my hands up, as the weapon switch and happy bombs went off very responsively whenever I tried to use them. So some things work fine, and some work less than ideally. On the whole, the game was definitely playable with the motion controls in their current state, but it wasn't as snappy as I'd want it to be if I were making the decision to play it with Kinect or a standard controller.

Admittedly, Ubisoft reps were quick to point out that a lot of variables are still in flux with Child of Eden, and indeed the demo I played had no UI in it, the happy bombs were unlimited, and the Kinect controls were said to be in a far from final state. It's not like this game is launching alongside the Kinect next month--the game isn't actually out until sometime early next year--so there's still time to get these motion controls up to snuff. But I have a sneaking suspicion that however refined Q can make them by the time of release, I'll still be reaching for a controller when Child of Eden goes final. Hey, good for them at least for giving you the option, right?
Brad Shoemaker on Google+