It was one of the earliest, quietest (and most unexpected) announcements made at last year’s E3, one that was almost entirely devoid of pre-event fanfare, and yet it easily ranked alongside the most exciting of the show. Tetsuya Mizuguchi’s Rez, one of the Playstation 2?s very finest games and a title so evergreen in its appeal that the recent (high definition) Xbox 360 Arcade remake felt as thrillingly new as the original did back in 2002, is finally getting a sequel. Fans have been clamouring loudly for it for years, and now that the follow-up is almost with us, everyone is encouraged to get extremely excited. Because Child Of Eden looks utterly outstanding.
The plot is as outright barmy as it was in that original game. Both titles involve a computer database’s constant attempts to replicate a human personality, as a virus (you) strives to prevent it from doing so, or something; and from what we’ve seen so far it looks to possess that same uncut, unsullied aura of having been captured to disc directly from Mizuguchi’s formidable imagination. If you’ve never seen Rez in action – and despite how influential it was, it still looks like absolutely nothing else – it is truly the work of an incomparably singular vision, which is something that you see all too rarely in the field of videogames. It was a piece of work that many considered fit to be displayed in art galleries, and the prospect of this sequel appears to be equally high-minded.
For the uninitiated, both Rez and Child Of Eden are fairly straightforward on-rails shoot ‘em ups that exploit one aspect of the concept of synesthesia – namely the impulsive neurological response that occurs in one part of your body whilst another is simultaneously stimulated. By experimentally integrating sound, touch and vision, Rez offered a completely unique kind of excitement, and one that was (at the time) compared with the likes of music-game masterpieces Frequency and Amplitude – two much-missed titles that built the foundations for the ongoing Guitar Hero/Rock Band behemoth – but the almost intravenous pleasures that Rez offered weren’t anywhere near as clear-cut.
Whilst Rez has had its distinctive visual style pinched more than a few times over the years (mainly by bemani-style DLC titles) nobody has attempted to replicate its gameplay, which remains perfectly simple, and yet almost impossible to adequately explain. Last year’s E3 gameplay demonstration, conducted (quite literally) by Mizuguchi himself, makes full and tantalising usage of Microsoft’s Kinect device. The presentation showed both the game and the technology working in perfect (near faultless) harmony together, and of all the titles demoed at the show, Child Of Eden was the one that not only created the most palpable buzz inside the auditorium during it, but it was also the one that everyone was most desperate to get some hands-on time with afterwards.
Although Ubisoft have been quite quick to point out that the Kinect device isn’t essential to each player’s enjoyment – a standard Xbox 360 or PS3 control pad can be used instead – if the level of control that the contraption promises can be fully utilised, this has the potential to be even more essential than Rez was eight years ago. Despite its impending release, no announcements have yet been made about whether the PS3’s Move peripheral will feature in the PS3 version, but regardless of how you will choose to enjoy it, Child Of Eden is already looking like one of this year’s very hottest, and most conceptually bracing, gaming prospects.
Watch the E3 Child Of Eden trailer here: