Child Of Light is a game that has been under the radar for quite some time. It hasn’t had a major push towards the mainstream gaming audience like other titles have had over the last couple of months and as such when I was tasked with heading over to Ubisoft to have a go I had to do a little bit of research before I arrived just so I knew what I would be getting myself into. I brought up YouTube and spent an hour or two looking into what Child Of Light truly is, that being a JRPG-esque game that basks in fairy-tale wonder. I’ll be honest and say I’m not a huge JRPG kind of guy and turn-based games aren’t exactly my forte. However, after playing two hours of Child Of Light, I think I can put those things aside because come April 30th, I’ll be following the light.
On a normal day, our protagonist Aurora falls asleep and instead of having a run-of-the-mill dream, she’s sent into Lemuria – a large, dangerous dreamscape filled with all kinds of different nicks and knacks. From puzzles, to a beautifully enchanting dreamscape, to the fateful realm where the wild-things truly are, Lemuria is stunning in all uses of the word. This is no doubt due to the UbiArt Framwork engine that both this and another of Ubisoft’s highly-praised games, Rayman Legends, runs on. Gone are the 3D worlds filled with assassination targets, a jackdaw and everyones favorite villain, Vaas Montenegro, and in comes an eloquent dream-like fantasy world that plays on the idea of a 2D world mixing in with 3D. Just like Rayman Legends, Child Of Light manages to assimilate all of the beautiful necessities nature offers and mold them together with darkness that the enemies of the game possess.
“From puzzles, to a beautifully enchanting dreamscape, to the fateful realm where the wild-things truly are, Lemuria is stunning in all uses of the word.”
As soon as I picked up the controller I was whisked away into a world of fantasy and the unknown. The dialogue that started the tale instantly established the tone of the game, blissfully echoing a poetic style of dialogue and one that I immediately connected with. The game is beautiful in basically every way, from the dialogue exchanged between Aurora and her little compadre, Igniculus, to the narration over the main story elements, to the landscape presented on screen. It’s all there and I often just found myself examining everything I could and taking it in with breaths of fresh air.
Controlling Aurora and Igniculus is quite simple and works very well. You control Aurora with the left stick and navigate Igniculus with the right stick. Igniculus, being the flying firefly he is, is incredibly useful when it comes to navigating the world of Lemuria. There are usually fern-like growth that illuminate throughout the world and a simple fly over by Igniculus will cause a simple trail of light that if collected in the right order (the correct source is orange and the others are blue) will burst into HP, Mana and Light for Aurora and Igniculus to gather. These also appear during battle as well and are often vital against the bigger bosses in the game.
After my initial introduction to the games story and exploring Lemuria for some time – I was thrown into battle for the first time. I had read up on the battle system in Child Of Light and prepared myself to a degree on what to do – but then came the unexpected use of my little pal, Igniculus. It was noted from the beginning of the fight that I could use him to slow down enemies and get an edge on them during the fight. The battle system in Child Of Light is quite different from anything I’ve played before. It’s not your run-of-the-mill turn for turn battle system, nothe screen, most of the area is covered by blue with ‘wait’ plastered on it to the far left, whilst maybe 1/8th (or 2/8th – I’m not incredibly good with mathematics) is red with ‘cast’. Each member of the battle is set onto this line, kind of like a racer in Mario Kart where you can see everyones mini-head on screen on a map of the track, and when one of your party members reaches the ‘cast’ area the menu pops up asking what you want to do – whether that’s acting and dealing a blow, or defending or taking a potion – it’s all up to you. Time freezes during this part of the battle (if it’s your character that’s selecting). Each one of these actions are assigned a casting time which has an effect on how long it’ll take you to cast along the timeline during battle. The key to this is timing. For example, if you and your enemy both hit the casting area at the same time and you chose to deal an attack to the enemy and your attack took ‘very long’ to cast and the enemies attack is ‘short’ – it’ll end up hitting you first and it’ll interrupt your attack, forcing you back to the ‘wait’ area of the timeline.It’s somewhat difficult to explain, but it’s a simple and intuitive system that breathes a new ounce of fresh air into the genre.
Using Igniculus, you can slow down an enemy going across the timeline by using his light, which in turn blinds an enemy. Each enemy type in Child Of Light has differing speeds on the timeline and so it comes down to prioritization and quick thinking to come out on top. If you were in the situation I mentioned above, but instead chose to defend (which is instant when it comes to casting time), you’ll block the majority of the damage the enemy attack would have dealt and then remain in defense-mode until you came back up to the casting zone. It seemed that while I was in defense-mode my character jolted across the timeline a lot quicker than usual, which is quite useful and makes for an interesting clash of priorities. Overall though, the battle system in Child Of Light was incredibly refreshing for me to dive into and it really forced me to think about timing and prioritizing actions.
“Each enemy type in Child Of Light has differing speeds on the timeline and so it comes down to prioritization and quick thinking to come out on top.”
Just like other JRPG/RPG’s before it, Child Of Light features a large skill tree that increases Aurora and her party’s abilities. It’s a large and robust skill tree that deviates in three different courses, making choice all that much more gratifying. By the time I had finished the preview build, I had three members in my party (including Aurora) and I attempted to even everyone throughout the game as it becomes more difficult in the later stages.
For a game that’s going to be hitting PSN, XBLA, Wii U and PC – the reach of Child Of Light is unquestionable. You really don’t have an excuse to not bat an eye in the games direction, and it’s only going to be around $20 which is even more of a reason to dip your feet into the mystical realm of Lemuria. I was very impressed with Child Of Light, it ticked every box for me and I’m incredibly excited to venture into the world once more when it releases on the 30th of April. RPG and JRPG fans, this might just be the game you’re looking for.
Child of Light Physical Edition available April 30th on PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One for $29.95 AUD. Digital Version also available same day for $19.95 AUD.