For many people Child of Eden will be their first journey into the Xbox Kinect so it is essential that those first few minutes of gameplay are well designed, enjoyable and provide an excellent introduction. This article focuses on why Child of Eden fails to do this job.
The player starts off down a tunnel with some simple targets to shoot and eventually builds up and becomes more difficult, requiring the player to learn about health, the different weapons and so forth. Tried and tested entry route into a game, building it up in stages. But how does Child of Eden inform players of the controls? Popups. Modal popups that stop the action mid flow. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again… modal popups are unacceptable. You shouldn’t be removing the player of control, especially with the jarring way that the game is instantly stopped. I feel that is this especially relevant in a game like Child of Eden where the game is based about a smooth and stunning experience.
A much better approach would be to provide no enemies, highlight what the game wants to talk about (a pick up, health etc) and via a simple text message let the player know what is expected of them. Want to show them health, highlight the health bar and say “Health” or want to indicate an item to pick up / collect, highlight it and provide the instruction “Shoot to collect”. Addition instructions can then follow in a text message. For combat, show how to target then once the player has managed to lock onto an enemy, instruct how to shoot. If they fail, just repeat that little section. The background was samey so why not loop them round? Job done.
My second gripe, which is another big one, is the length of the level. It lasts about 15 minutes and is quite tiring on the arms. Surprisingly the big boss fight is only about a third to half way through the level! As a new player it can be pretty challenging and it wouldn’t be surprising if a newbie had to repeat the first level a few times. In itself that isn’t a bad thing, games not being an absolute doddle, but if you fail then you have to do the WHOLE tutorial again, including those annoying pop ups. There’s a delay on them so you can’t quickly skip by and it soon becomes an infuriating experience. I’m all for games making it a challenge and not providing checkpoints every two seconds, but you shouldn’t put players through monotonous tasks in particular tutorials.
The whole process would be much better if either it had a checkpoint after all the tutorial points or just removed them after one go. As the game (rather subtly) tells you, the tutorials are in fact available from the main menu so why the tutorial messages aren’t disabled after the first run, I don’t know. However in truth what I truly believe is that the first level just shouldn’t last that long
So there’s my rant on the tutorial for Child of Eden. Whilst I can understand why some people have sung its praises for its visual quality, the core game design isn’t all that hot and the tutorials is probably the most guilty party… and boy is it guilty of some very sloppy design.
Source: Xbox 360 Kinect