Child of Light – Review
Child of Light is a video game created by the directors of Far Cry 3. This is interesting, because when you look at both games, you’d think that it would be impossible, but it’s true. Patrick Plourde and Jeffrey Yohalem from Ubisoft made this artistically pleasing RPG game. They clearly communicated to the world that they can do more than just create open world first person romps with masterfully creepy and engaging antagonists. So how did they fair in this 180 departure? Let’s find out.
Child of Light follows Aurora, who is the daughter of a duke in the late 19th century Austria. The stepmother, as you’d assume, is evil and things go sour from there. Aurora becomes sick and it is hinted that she’s on the verge of dying in her sleep. The fantasy and the reality of the fairytale blend here. She then wakes up in a land called Lumuria. Her adventure will take her deep into the beautiful and picture book-esque landscapes. The evil of the story comes from the Dark Queen Umbra who is planning to usurp the kingdom’s current rulers for her own greed. Aurora will befriend characters on her trip including acrobats, a long bearded wielding wizard, and a mouse.
The story is reminiscent of the classical adventure fantasies we loved as kids, including that of The Neverending Story. The story hit some decent strides, but those who are familiar with the premise of novels like The Neverending Story should be careful as even though the story is good, it’s not great. Perhaps this is because those who love literary works would come in wanting a little more context and depth, but if they come in with the expectation of a decent story, they should be fine. It’s basically because the story never veers off the tried and true narrative path of coming of age. There’s nothing that will make it too different from other classic narratives.
Speaking of narratives, that is the name of the game with Child of Light. In an attempt to be a fairy tale, Child of Light comes with its dialogue and narrative style all in a rhyme scheme. This works for the most part and gives the words a sing-song quality, but at times it felt forced. You know the attempt to be eloquent and beautiful is written in each painstaking line, but you can’t help but cringe a little at how you wished that it would just abandon it at times. Sometimes, plain spoken words are quite powerful. It made parts of the narrative a bit tiresome to read. It was as if the creators were trying too hard to channel their inner John Milton, but did so in an overtly groan-inducing way. Milton is cited in this because the one thing that is beautiful about the poetic use of rhyme and meter is that it is like reading an interactive epic poem.
When you’re not in narrative parts of the game, you’re exploring and exploration is fun. It is done in a two dimensional way and is full of platforming. You’ll be avoiding traps and solving puzzles. The puzzles aren’t too difficult and luckily their also not overtly easy. The platforming is melded together with the RPG style turn based system. Like old school RPG’s when Aurora touches an on screen baddie, the game dissolves and she and her friends are put into combat. The game takes on a traditional JRPG element in this manner and you’ll have the typical culprits: magic, physical attacks, those who are good with magic, weak to attacks, those who are faster, etc.
What makes the affair a little trickier is when you have to rely on interruptions. The bar at the bottom of the screen is your time span, and the characters are constantly moving on that line with their respective icons. As characters hit the light mark, time begins to slow down to a crawl, you then choose which actions the characters will take. Each action has a wind up time, and depending on which action you take, it’ll be a shorter or longer wait. Interruptions become important here as this is how you keep enemies from casting their bigger spells, but the same goes for you as well. This keeps the combat from being sluggish as you’re constantly trying to keep your footing ahead of enemies.
To add even more depth to the combat, players can control Aurora’s friend of light Igniculus. This little buddy can be used to deter enemies further by acting as a blindsiding debuff, which makes their cast times even longer. Igniculus can also surprisingly be taken over by a second player, which will change the mechanics of the game a bit. This works to your advantage as it gives you and a friend the chance to strategize ways to take out enemies.
What Child of Light boils down to is a beautiful game with hand drawn styled back drops, and solid gameplay, unfortunately this is overshadowed by the long narratives with forced archaic prose. It doesn’t mean that the story is terrible. It’s not. Anyone who loves coming of age stories should give this a try. If anything, you will find this to be a breath of fresh air. The developers should be commended for their ability to diversify themselves from a lot of the popular games out there, especially when the game obviously takes queues from its indie brethren. Story aside, you are in for an amazing journey with Aurora The Child of Light.
We recommend this game to those who are looking for something different, and challenging those who would be turned off by a stylistic game to put aside their concerns and dive right in.