Child of Eden: First Impressions

We get a closer look at the Child of Eden demo with which Tetsuya Mizuguchi revealed this Rez-like "synesthesia shooter."

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First revealed at Ubisoft's E3 conference, Child of Eden is a "multisensory" shooter that combines showers of light and luminous sea creatures with pulsing electronic music that evolves or grows with the beats and samples generated in the explosive destruction of the obstacles in your path. Today, we took a closer look at the demo, again conducted by Tetsuya Mizuguchi, the game's creative director and creator of the similarly musical shooter Rez and blocky puzzler Lumines.

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With its flying, tunnel-vision on-rails shooting, the game closely resembles Rez, albeit from a first-person perspective and rendered in glorious high definition at a smooth 60 frames per second. Mizuguchi also doesn't call it a sequel or direct successor to that earlier title, emphasizing Child of Eden's entirely different inspiration: the life theme, as he calls it, which manifests itself in the organic designs of the creatures to be shot at, including neon sea anemones and caterpillar-like creatures built of glowing cubes.

In our demo, Mizuguchi used the Xbox 360 controller rather than the controller-free Kinect system for the Xbox, as seen at the Ubisoft presentation. The controls seem simple and streamlined, with the left thumbstick used to move the reticle and the A button for locking on to a target. Also, with a physical controller, the vibration feedback at the heart of Rez is restored as part of the multisensory experience. Though a Sony PS3 version of Child of Eden is on the cards, no one is yet talking about Sony's Move capability, if any.

The game's high-definition kaleidoscope of color and light is lovely to behold and mixes the regular, tunnel-like environments (sometimes circular, sometimes square) with large, one-off structures. In the short demo, this included a giant anemone, a great, screen-filling wall built of endless glowing cubes, and a globe surrounded by the huge curved sides of what Mizuguchi calls a sound box: a vast wall with certain panels that can be targeted and hit to trigger different sounds.

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These were looped vocals samples, in our case. Generally, the game's interactive audio included Lumines-like beats; its quality much improved over the PSP version of Lumines. Later, the background of the game looked much like a crisp satellite image of Earth, in keeping with the life theme and more conventionally a music video-style dancer. These acted as the backdrop to the psychedelic confetti of Child of Eden's busy, heads-up-display-free foregrounds. Child of Eden appears to be an essential title for the (still some way off) Kinect but will be just as good with the standard controller when it arrives, or so says Mizuguchi. There's no confirmed release window as of yet, but we'll be sure to have more as it becomes available.

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