What to say about Child of Eden? It’s an awful lot like Rez, which I also had very little to say about. The graphics are better; mostly, that’s good, and leads to a bit more surface to attach thoughts to (e.g. in the game’s pairing of mechanical objects with passion). But there’s nothing like the mystical splendor of Rez‘s fifth level, and the realism in the movie at the start of Child of Eden was jarring. There’s one new gameplay mechanic (a non-lock-on shooting mechanism that’s largely used against projectiles); doesn’t add much, in my view.

The story is a bit more explicit than in Rez; I guess that’s a good thing, but only marginally? And I’m really not sure what to say about the game’s use of the euphemism “purification” for killing your enemies: surely they’re not unaware of the historical contexts in which those concepts have been linked, but if there’s some sort of commentary intended here, it’s buried more deeply than I can see it.

And then there’s the idea that it’s a music game. Which, I’m realizing, really doesn’t work for me. Part of what’s going on there is that the musical style isn’t one that I enjoy; but that’s not all of it. One symptom of the mismatch here are the bonuses you get by locking on to eight enemies and then timing your shot with the music: that’s not something I turned out to be likely to do unconsciously, the music is neither enough in the foreground nor providing enough guidance for me to be playing along with it without realizing. (And, when I do realize, I still don’t particularly want to play along with it!)

I’m still glad the game exists, I’m glad to have played it. But there’s something that I would like to be able to find in Child of Eden that I’m having a hard time seeing.

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