It's unavoidable; talking about Child of Eden with any kind of enthusiasm makes you sound like a pretentious twat. Tetsuya Mizuguchi's sensory spectacular is an ambassador for the age-old 'games as art' debate, an experience that panders to the highbrow with an interactive kaleidoscope of colour, shape and sound. And yet at its core, it's little more than a (very well disguised) on-rails shooter. Through rhythm, thought-provoking imagery and the lucid melodies of Genki Rockets, however, it manages to transcend the perception of what a game actually is.
See? One paragraph in and I'm already spouting a load of bombastic drivel.
It does highlight what a whimsical experience Child of Eden is, though. Let's not gloss over the importance of Kinect here. For eight months the tech has served as little more than a gimmick for sports compendiums and dance games. With Mizuguchi's passion to spur the medium on to 'sense-o-rama'behind it, however, waving your arms about in front of the TV becomes something much more interesting.
As you float through the abstract cosmos of Eden – a tangible cyberspace you've been sent to purge a virus from, thus saving the first space-born human, Lumi, who has had her consciousness digitally stored there - your arms become fleshy laser weapons. Waving your right hand in front of the screen can lock-on to up to eight enemies, then thrusting your palm forward will send a flurry of rocket-like projectiles their way. Your left hand compliments this with a stream of purple machine-gun bullets – the tracer, it's called. At its core, the game is about knowing which hand to use and when.
Whilst you might feel like one, a five-point health bar in the corner of the screen emphasises the fact that you are not an omnipotent floating space wizard. You will get shot at. You'll quickly develop an eye for the colour purple, which denotes enemy projectiles hurtling towards the camera. Killing the source of these malicious missiles is usually a good way to go about surviving.
If you buy into the game's narrative, you're not actually killing enemies at all; you're purifying Eden of digital anomalies, the parasites of Lumi's conscious. With each enemy you 'delete', a melodic cry rings through Eden. Different enemies produce different sounds: beeps and bops, plips and plops. Even the act of locking onto an enemy comes with its own musical motif, each note adding to the soundtrack as a whole. Contributing to the sound and rhythm with a few majestic manoeuvres of your limbs is more satisfying than you might imagine.
If you want the full experience, try popping the 360 pad down your trousers (or just in your pocket), as tactile feedback manages to add a lot to the game. It's pleasantly forward thinking from Mizuguchi - hopefully a trick that other developers will implement with Kinect hence forth. Kinect is very much optional, of course. I gravitated towards the pad after a few hours – the reticule might be slightly smaller, but anybody lusting after high scores will welcome the increased accuracy.
Also, playing for any longer than half an hour is pretty tough-going on the old arms. I'm pathetic, I know.