Child of Eden

Rez Ressurected

Child of Eden continues Tetsuya Mizuguchi's quest for synesthesia with spectacular results.
Author: Sam Bishop
Published: October 12, 2011
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See? It sounds like rambling, but it must be reinforced that this is one of the most creatively ambitious games the PS3 and indeed video games have ever seen. The game never stops offering awe-inspiring vistas even as it barrels forward into the next part of the world, and I cannot recommend playing this game enough (bonus points if you happen to be altered in some way -- Mizuguchi may not come out and say it, but we happily will).


There is one major difference between how Child of Eden handles its soundtrack and Rez's earlier one: vocals. Every track in the game is laden with Lumi's backing vocals, and they're actually overpowered (extremely so) by the default audio settings. Bumping up the music and lowering the explosions helps set things at a better equilibrium, but there's no getting around the vocal loops when they're present. If that's not your cup of tea in electronic music, then you're going to find some of the later stages even more goofy. I tend to go back and forth on my acceptance of someone singing with my oonce oonce oonce, and some tracks are better than others, but a few moments, like the crescendo leading up to the fourth level's boss fight smacked me right in the adrenal gland.

When Child of Eden is humming, its soundtrack bumping in time with the on-screen action, this really is about as close as one can get to experiencing synesthesia, mixing up one's senses so you can feel colors or taste smells. It's not quite there, but there's absolutely no denying that amid all the tensing difficulty that something primal and core to your being is stoked. The moments aren't constant, but the tease of them makes pushing on that much easier. And yes, the music is quite good as a whole (though not quite on par with Rez's soundtrack.

It's a wonderful thing to still be awestruck by a game after reviewing literally thousands over the years. Child of Eden does that, and it does it often. There's a sense of exploration that other on-rails shooters just can't match, and while this is a game that can be played with a controller, it should be played using as much of the available technology as Q Entertainment has tried to bring to bear. The experience is measurably improved when playing with Move, turning a normal shooter into something that feels like an extension of your body (while not losing that tactile immediacy and removing the need to do extra-goofy things like clapping to change weapons). Throw in 3D and you have an experience that's starting to seriously approach the kind of euphoric rush of something a little less legal.

I won't claim that this is a game for everyone, but I will happily say that in an ideal world, everyone would at least get the chance to try it. There's a surprising amount of replay value here (so long as you can handle the challenge), with plenty of extra stuff to unlock on the level select screen, stills, movies, extra modes, effects and more, though to be honest they aren't the draw. Saving Lumi most definitely is.
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The Verdict
9.0

Child of Eden is one of those games you'll pull out to make friends ooh and ahh at your new A/V system, but it's a game you'll keep out just to dabble in the world Q Entertainment has created. There is truly nothing like this on the PS3.

10.0Graphics:

Absolutely gorgeous in every way -- particularly the visage of Lumi that crops up throughout the levels. This is a game you bust out to wow friends, and it will never, ever fail to do so.

9.0Sound:

Some may take issue with the audio balance and addition of vocals to the tracks, but the overall mood is only bolstered by the way the game's aural and visual swells meet in perfect harmony.

8.5Control:

Move calibration is a must (and even then seeking out the edges of the screen can be troublesome), and playing with a controller doesn't offer the same sense of precision or freedom, but when the game's at its best, it's incredible.

9.0Gameplay:

It's hard to give a rail shooter high marks for having great gameplay, but Child of Eden nails the sense of depth, the addiction of score chases and continually tops itself in terms of lessons taught right up until the final moments.