Deepak Chopra is a renowned author and speaker on spiritual matters. His outing on the Xbox is a very novel use of the Kinect motion tracking technology, which involves the exploration of the seven chakras (energy centres) located along the spine.
Go with the flow
It’s not a game as such, although half of Leela is a series of seven mini-games which are designed to attune the player’s “energy flow” and chakras. These games require the player to sway their hips or move their arms slowly and gently, in various motions that mimic Tai Chi style movements.
Of course, this is the sort of thing that will immediately have many people throwing their hands up in the air and deriding the idea as complete tosh; but they obviously aren’t the target audience for Leela. The mini-games themselves are very simple and can’t be won or lost, the only variable is how long it takes to complete them.
Some of the mini-games are a tad frustrating, with the Kinect controls being rather over sensitive. Navigating a 3D tunnel was a finicky exercise that didn’t do much for our levels of inner peace, but other mini-games are better designed and are a bit more involving. Our favourites were guiding fireballs to break up rocks, along with timing comets to intersect with stars in the inky blackness of deep space.
The idea is that you breathe steadily and deeply, while partaking in these exercises. This is all while immersing yourself further, by imagining the energy of that rock-busting fireball between your hands as you fling it. Breathing is a major focus of the Leela experience, with the meditation side of the program having an entire set of breath control exercises.
These are combined with some short and very nicely put together guided meditations that we most definitely enjoyed – particularly the energising and breathing exercises. Kinect actually tries to read the rise and fall of your body and breath, although it doesn’t do a perfect job of this and isn’t quite sensitive enough.
Sadly, the Kinect doesn’t work very well within the menus, as the pointer tends to move sluggishly and skip around at times, an unnecessary ripple of irritation on Leela’s still pond of reflection.
- Nicely implemented guided meditations and breathing exercises.
- Glitchy interface in the menus; some mini-games aren't so well conceived.
Leela scores points for being a different and novel use of Microsoft's motion peripheral. Kinect doesn't work perfectly, with the interface or the breath detection. We preferred the meditation side of the Leela experience to the mini-games, but this is a pretty subjective experience so your mileage may vary. We found it difficult to tell exactly what effect (if any) the movements involved in the mini-games were having, whereas the benefits of a half hour meditation session were obvious.