Whether it's a Kinect game for the rest of us, a bold audiovisual sculpture, or even, y'know, a twitchy arcade rail shooter, Child of Eden is looking wonderful. Sounds pulse, lights blink and shift, lines warp and flutter and then slowly congregate to form space whales or galaxy-spanning birds - it's a bit like enjoying a Valium overdose while you relax in a glass elevator filled with orange Fanta and Bonjela. (We checked.)
With Rez's sharp edges and flickering lasers giving way to curves and fins and petals, and the organic replacing the cold and technological everywhere you look, this is surprisingly calming for a frantic blasting game. Targets flit in and out of focus, watery turrets fire off volleys of speeding torpedoes, but the whole thing manages to feel delightful and relaxing at the same time.
With the tagline of "Hope and Happiness" and at least one boss that takes the form of a giant rippling flower, Tetsuya Mizuguchi and his team have created a game in airy pastels, filled with soothing murmurs and bursts of J-Pop. It's unashamedly earnest, and unashamedly cheery: even the unfurling of a massive enemy's health bar seems strangely comforting.
How does it play? Brilliantly. Last time I encountered the game, I left with the impression that the serious way to play Child of Eden was with the controller, moving the aiming reticule in precise semi-circles as you paint and release, selecting targets and then shattering them in itchy little sonic bursts.
The Kinect functionality was still a selling point, but it was there for when you had friends around and you wanted to show them what it was like to stand in your living room and wave your arms around like an inscrutable and all-powerful space wizard.
Now, however, as Q Entertainment eases into the final stretch of development, Kinect has snapped sharply into focus: the game copes well with even the most minimal of gestures, while the bounding box means that you won't be constantly nudging the camera off its pre-aligned route through each level unless you mean to.
With the roving reticule responding quickly to sweeps and arcs of your hand, you can enjoy the game as a genuine challenge as well as a fancy display of sound and colour, and yet the controls still retain their stylish tweaks.
There are two main weapons to choose between – an auto-fire Tracer, and a more standard Rez-styled paint-targets-and-then-unleash setup - and a brisk clap of the hands switches you back and forth between them so quickly that the game's arsenal soon becomes second nature. For particularly tricky moments, a smart bomb – it used to be called the Happy Bomb, and it's now been retitled Euphoria – is triggered by holding up both your hands.
As ever, the shots define the game, your two-pronged attack options giving Child of Eden's levels a real sense of shape. Tracer bullets can be used to shift objects aside or take out dense swarms of enemies, while the lock-on is the best way to deal with the quicker – or larger – foes, dabbing them as they move briefly through your vision and then sending them into oblivion when you're satisfied you've selected enough targets.
The type of shot you use often changes the sound effect you hear from an impact, and with a long uncoiling creature fragmenting beneath you, or a wriggling tangle of jellyfish expiring in a tinkling of tiny bells overhead, getting into the zone in Child of Eden can feel a lot like playing a bizarre mirror-world musical instrument.
And this can't be said enough: Child of Eden's design is astonishing. The familiar plot sees you purifying various internet "archives" of a virus and reconstructing Lumi, the girl-spirit trapped within, but the themed worlds you'll pass through, covered with sepia-tinged video textures and dazzling organic detailing are filled with surprises.
Beauty, which is almost unrecognisable from its brief E3 showing, casts you out over a frozen forest, where green jewels erupt from the ground before spitting out wispy little techno-worms, while huge beaux arts butterflies swim past, giving you just a second to lock on before curling their wings and unleashing shots of their own.
Hitting the glowing area for – you know – massive damage has never seemed like such an artistic undertaking, while an extended boss fight against a huge shape-shifting flower showcases both design whimsy at its most concentrated and some truly brilliant multi-stage attack construction as you switch between Tracer shots to dissolve the outer flowers before locking on for the core.
It's great to discover that even amidst the bed bugs and the migraine visions, Child of Eden still has time to be a taxing arcade shooter, with regular screams of "PERFECT" appearing on the screen reminding you of its twitchy, coin-grabbing origins.
Completing a full lock-on of eight targets will up your score multiplier until you're raking in the points, while even the prettiest enemy waves are there to be memorised on repeated playthrough as you work your way towards 100-per-cent-ing each archive.
And it's also a wonderfully crazy Mizuguchi production, of course. It supports controller vibration for four spectators – Mizuguchi has even made a belt peripheral apparently, which sounds decidedly mass-market – and the central menu screen takes the form of the upgradable Lumi's Garden: a fish tank for the 21st century where your progress is shown in how many bubbling, skittering critters you've unlocked.
What's astonishing about Child of Eden, though, is no longer just how pretty it looks, how good it sounds, or how wonderfully earnest the whole thing is. Child of Eden's greatest achievement may be as a game that genuinely benefits from Kinect: tussling with the hardware to emerge with something uncompromised and wholly convincing.