Child of Light Review
Child of Light is not the kind of release you would expect from Ubisoft, a publisher and developer well known for their big budget blockbusters like Assassin’s Creed, FarCry, Watch_Dogs or even the incredibly zany Rayman, a fairly standard platformer game that uses the same framework as Child of Light. The Ubi-Art framework.
What Ubisoft Montreal have created is an evocative, visually stunning role-playing game that is filled to the brim with adventure and charm with an incredibly beautiful soundtrack sprinkled all over it. The music was composed by Coeur de Pirate (Béatrice Martin) A Canadian musician and song writer.
The Story centres around a red-haired Austrian Princess called Aurora, daughter of the King of Austria. Aurora is very close to her Father and will do anything for him. At first, Child of Light bares a lot of resemblance to some of Disney’s older stories like Snow White and the Seven Dwarves and Sleeping Beauty. Unfortunately life does not hand you roses in this game. Aurora falls sick and eventually “dies” leaving her loving father weeping by her side mourning his loss. For some unknown reason, Aurora is transported to the mythical kingdom of Lemuria, a world engulfed by an evil dark Miasma. Aurora soon discovers that the dark queen Umbra has stolen the sun, moon and the stars and Aurora must retrieve them and stop Umbra from causing further chaos.
Like in any traditional role-playing game, Aurora cannot adventure by herself . At the start of the game, Aurora meets a small, bright orb called Igniculus who decides to team up with her to save Lemuria.
Aurora also meets and teams up with a few other emotionally scarred characters along the way. These characters range from a timid wizard who cannot stop crying to an introverted jester who never seems to smile. Aurora lives up to her title of the “child of light” and is willing to help brighten up their troubled lives. A remarkable feat considering she has just been separated from her father who she loves and misses dearly.
Every piece of dialog and every bit of narration given throughout Child of Light is told in rhyme. In a way it works considering Child of Light is like a fairytale. Most fairy tales I read as a child were told in rhyme and worked really well. Unfortunately the same cannot be said about the rhyming in this game. Sometimes it works really well but it felt forced the majority of the time which irritated me more and more as I progressed through the game.
The first thing you will notice about this game is how beautiful the game looks which is not surprising considering the game is powered by the same framework engine that gave us Rayman Orgins and Legends. Each watered-colored scene is an absolute pleasure to look at and something I would frame proudly on the wall and admire daily. Child of Light is without question, the most beautiful game I have played in a very long time. Another thing that stands out from Child of Light’s artistic direction is the incredible amount of detail to Lemuria and the characters that live in it. For example, the pitter-patter sounds of Aurora walking on cobble-stones and her beautiful hair flowing in the wind.
At a first glance, Child of Light looks and plays just like a run-of-the-mill puzzle platformer, where you must walk or fly from left to right and vice versa. When in reality, Child of Light also relies heavily on tried and tested japanese RPG game mechanics. Enemies appear on screen as you navigate through the landscape. If Aurora comes into contact with them then the screen dips to black and a battle commences. If you sneak behind the enemy and come into contact with them, a “surprise attack” will be initiated allowing you and your party to strike first. If the enemy comes into contact with you first then they are the ones that attack first.
Like with any standard RPG, you take turns in attacking. At the bottom of the screen is the Active Time Bar which shows you how long you have to wait before you can choose whether to physically attack, cast an offensive/defensive spell/an item, defend, change party member or simply flee the battle scene. Whatever option you choose takes time to cast. Normally the bigger spells take longer to cast as opposed to a simply slash attack. If the enemy attacks you whilst you are getting ready to attack, they will “interrupt” your move and you will be forced to skip a turn leaving you open to the enemy. If you attack the enemy just before they attack, then you will “interrupt” their move and force them to skip a turn. This makes battles a lot more engaging and more strategic.
Instead of playing the game by yourself, a second player can pick up a Wii remote controller and control Igniculus and fly him all over the screen. The second player can then point at enemies stunning them, use Igniculus’s magic to heal Aurora and distract enemies during combat. If you don’t have any friends to play with, all this can be controlled with the right analog stick.
Also present are character skill trees that allows you to develop your character’s base stats such as Health, Strength, defense, speed and character spells. Sphere slots can be filled in by winning battles and gaining experience points to fill in these slots using skill points. Sadly the skill trees are very basic and lack depth unlike the sphere grids in Final Fantasy X.
Instead of shops or vendors selling weapons and Armour for your characters, Child of Light uses a gem stone called Oculi to grant your characters offensive and defensive bonuses in the same way weapons and armour do in other RPGs. Oculi gemstones can be found by killing enemies, looting chests littered all over Lemuria or by using the craft system to create more advanced gem stones or even completely different Oculi that grant unique bonuses. I really enjoyed the crafting system and it allowed me to customise my characters for each boss battle.
Despite it’s minor issues, Child of Light is a beautifully crafted RPG that I had the pleasure of playing for roughly 15 hours before I defeated Umbra. As an RPG fan myself, I really liked the return of turn-based battle mechanics and Child of Light’s inventive crafting system using Oculi to customise my team.
I may of finished this wonderful fairy-tale about a young, courageous princess but I will definitely dust off this fairy-tale in years. Child of Light is another noble hit in Ubisoft Montreal’s diverse portfolio of work. Highly recommended.