Rez with your hands.
I still can't believe Game Revolution gave Rez a 'C'. Granted, that was before I came on the Game Revolution, but still… Even today, I would wander through a candy store and think everything was right with the world, until I remember that darn 'C' and then I wake up covered in blood, despair, and jelly beans. What can I say? I like sweet things.
[image1]Sure, if I look at Rez from an objective point of view, obnoxiously, it's a plain rail shooter that's short and just happens to have pretty colors and a layered trance track. But that's just missing the point. It's like looking at the infamous Banksy "Gay Bobbies" street stencil of two British policemen kissing each other and saying that it's just vandalism; or, playing Shadow of the Colossus and saying that it's just a game with nothing but giant boss battles and horse abuse. Rez may have simple gameplay, but it's also a psychedelic beat-trip with a synesthetic soundscape whose enveloping power can only be matched to the actual taking of drugs. Probably a combination of them. (I wouldn't know the right cocktail, of course…)
As the spiritual successor to Rez, Child of Eden attempts to induce the same mental mindtrip, except with even brighter HD colors and greater epileptic potential. An 11-year-old boy obsessed with Nickelodeon cannot resist the prismatic brilliance, the rainbow hypnosis flashing across the screen like a disco ball made out of reflective Skittles. Nor can he ignore the sweet backbeats and synth vocals seamlessly synchronized with the sparkling visuals. How do I know? Because I had one play it. He forgot to blink for two minutes. It hurt him, and now he can't stop. I'm sure this is going to scar him somehow… in a good way… I hope.
The similarities to Rez go beyond mere style. Not only is the player explicitly saving an AI system in the shape of a young woman, this time named Lumi, but there are also four archives that must be purified of viruses before the final archive is unlocked. To do so, players have two weapons: the familiar high-damaging laser that can lock on up to eight targets and a new rapid-fire gun that shoots down purple targets. Thus, defending against the enemy's purple bullets and scoring enough points with the octo-lock laser to earn stars for unlocking new levels can only be achieved by alternating between weapons swiftly.
[image2]For players brave enough to use the Kinect controls, this means flipping between their right arm for the laser and their left arm for the machine gun with ease. Since Child of Eden is still a rail shooter, players don't have to move the reticule around too much, but they will have to keep up with boss viruses that slither beyond the edges of the screen (and cope with the burn in their arms). Those using the controller will have a much easier time, so to keep things fair, the point threshold for stars is raised and the reticle is much smaller. Beyond that, it's not much more complicated than picking up some extra health power-ups and screen-clearing euphoria, activated by raising both hands (or pressing a button… but that sounds boring, eh?).
My hope is that Child of Eden will have more content, either in-game or via DLC, and to relax the 20-star requirement for reaching the final level. Asking for perfection is a tad daunting and will likely force players to replay levels more than they want. Thankfully, players can turn the difficulty to Feel Eden for free play without worrying about score. And it's hard to complain about having more of a good thing, and if it's anything like Rez, then I'm ready to play Child of Eden at least fifty times within the end of the year. Get ready for blissful hallucinations when Child of Eden arrives June 14, 2011.