Child Of Light
Developer: Ubisoft Massive, Ubisoft Montreal, Ubisoft Ukrain, Ubisoft Bucharest
Platforms: Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4 (Reviewed), Wii U, Xbox 360, Xbox One
Release Date: 30th April 2014
Price: $19.95 – Available Here
As a kid that grew up being read fairy tales, I never truly understood them. Like most children I took these types of stories as they came, not looking any deeper into the messages and morals behind each and every story but I was just a silly kid. As a grew older I began to show a disinterest in fantasy-type storytelling looking to indulge myself only with things that spoke to me on a very shallow level. Now, being in my 20s, I’ve started looking back and researching on the origins of these stories, what they represented, what they SHOULD have taught me and they inspiration that led to their creation.
Unfortunately it was too late for me, my interest in sitting through another “Disney” movie or reading another children’s book simply to try my hand at understand the more deep-seeded themes and issues within them had depleted…then “Child Of Light” came along. It was a game I thought I had no interest in but one that allowed me to understand the types of subject matter that have inspired countless pieces of entertainment throughout the ages. Thanks to “Ubisoft” and “Child Of Light” my eyes were pried open and left subject to the beauty of a well-written tale. Let’s see if I can maybe open up yours.
Players will follow the melancholy yet ultimately uplifting story of the young princess Aurora. The beautiful girl with locks of blood red hair falls ill one sorrowful day and unfortunately passes away much to the distress and heartache of her father and the people of the Austrian kingdom she is to one day govern. Waking up in a strange world filled with abnormal flora and fauna, Aurora soon realize that she’s no longer in the world she once used to dwell. She soon meets with a quirky little creature named Igniculus who refers to itself as a “firefly”. Igniculus helps the princess partners with her as they continue through the misty forest but the two aren’t alone for very long. The two eventually are eventually confronted by a mysterious cloaked being who explains to Aurora that an evil entity has taken away the sun, moon and stars of this world.
With the world covered in darkness, there’s no way Aurora can return home but what if she was to recover the sun, moon and stars? Would she then be able to be within her father’s embrace once more? Aurora (alongside her firefly friend) now travel through this “new” world, making friends, shining a light in the darkness and all the while trying their very best to save this world and to get Aurora back to her own. At first glance, the “Child Of Light” story seems like quite a generic one but I beg that you not take my explanation of it to be exactly how it comes across. The depth of the storylines and the complexities of the characters within are what really makes this game so fantastically beautiful. The story itself is clearly inspired by classic fairy tales, in fact, most things in “Child Of Light” are fairy tale-inspired. The game’s dialogue is all in rhymes, each character bounces off of the other and when certain characters forget to do that, Igniculus always has something to say.
To have dialogue written in such a way that is both obvious yet not overdone is quite the feat for any writing team. It just so happens that the one for “Child Of Light” did it perfectly. It deals with the themes of death, loss, darkness, depression and the rising above the negative to attain the positive. Aurora grows as she meets new characters and goes head-to-head with dark creatures. She’s not just a little girl; she’s a princess, a warrior and a shinning beacon of light in a world that has succumb to darkness. The story is see deep and interesting, it’s filled with so many things to see and so many varying character to interact with as well as small side stories that’ll range from putting you in a solemn space to having you in stitches. It’s a fleshed-out piece of work with not a plot hole in sight and some of the most engaging scenes to ever be present in a title of its kind…something I wish I could see in a great deal of other game releases.
“Child Of Light” somehow does something I would have never thought possible: It mixes classic platforming with an odd but incredible style of turn-based RPG gameplay that (alongside its many other positive aspects, may just be the defining element that places it high above the rest. Journeying throughout “Child Of Light” allows players to enjoy the most perfect example of fundamental side-scrolling platformers. “Ubisoft” has taken the basics of the gameplay style and absolutely perfected in an entirely satisfying way. My thoughts are that they realized that the platforming style of gaming doesn’t NEED to be drastically changed or reinvented so they simply didn’t and it worked beautifully because it mean that they could focus on the matching of the two genres rather than the overbuilding of just the one…Though, in saying that, they’ve done something sensational with their take on turn-based strategy titles but we’ll get onto that soon enough.
While platforming throughout the game you’ll run into a lot of familiar obstacles and puzzles that you’ll have to overcome to be able to move on. In battle (executed by coming into physical contact with an enemy icon) you go up against a maximum of three enemies at a time. Markers representing your party members and the individual enemy units are placed on upon what I would call a “time line” (not a timeline). This “time line” indicates how close a character is to executing an attack. Once you begin to think about it, the battle system is quite similar to that of a race. Some characters are faster while others are slower but there are a bunch of varying factors like simple character type (mage, warrior, etc) and status ailments/boosters, some of which speed up or slow down the speed of a character. Units can also be interrupted while attacking which sends them back on the “time line”, this alongside so many other things can make battles in “Child Of Light” quite fierce. The fighters you’ll recruit into your party are all pivotal characters in the story of “Child Of Light” and the differences between each of them gives players good reason to implement them into their battle strategies. No character is like another which is absolutely fantastic as there’s no overlap and no reason to exclude certain character because “they can’t do this as well as THAT character can”, which is quite a convincing argument for RPG players like me.
There is a leveling system in the game that revolves around experience earnt from battles and even though you can only have two character battling at one time (with the option to switch out instantly) the experience points are dealt out to every character which eliminates the worry of any getting left behind. With leveling comes the character skill tree: For each level you gain, you’re given one skill point which can be used to develop the individual characters in exactly the way you want. Each character has a unique skill tree and many different ways of using them depending on which branch you decide to upgrade first. “Child Of Light” also features an extremely helpful multiplayer option which puts a second player in control of Igniculus the firefly who can heal party members, slow down enemy units and help Aurora through any dark caverns whilst all the while finding her treasures that she may or may not be able to access herself. “Ubisoft” have implemented just about as much as they possibly could into this title without making it feel muddled up and convoluted. Gameplay-wise “Child Of Light” is absolutely brilliant. There’s nothing more to be said. Simply brilliant.
To say that the aesthetics of “Child Of Light” are breathtaking would be a grievous understatement. Literally as soon as you begin the game you’re met with a series of incredible still images which are used in conjunction with spoken dialogue to set up the adventure in which you’re about to embark on. Past the opening sequence and into the actual gameplay portion of the title you’re thrown into a world that, although clearly 2D, has enough layers (both foreground and background) to make reality seem flat. “Child Of Light” truly looks like a storybook brought to life and I couldn’t imagine any other visual style to have represented that better. The visual intricacies are incredibly impressive. The very first thing you notice is the dynamic movement of Aurora’s hair, after that it is the animation difference between her and the rest of this strange world that you notice; there is a clear that characters like Aurora are from another world, not only through dialogues speaking of such a thing, but from the actual animation.
While she is well-rounded and liquid in movement, the rest move more like paper marionettes rather than 3D character models. The world itself, each and every environment, has such an air of wonder yet danger about it. It’s almost hard to describe in a way that truly makes sense because, well…it doesn’t. To have this much environmental depth in a game that describes itself as a “side-scrolling platformer” shows that, really, anything is possible. The way characters move and react to certain situations is nothing short of “real”: Aurora, while traveling through different settings, tends to look around at everything she can, showing us that she’s just about as intrigued by the whole thing as we are. Aurora, wielding one heck of a sword, finds it hard to gracefully wield it seeing as how it’s bigger than her: Winding up for attacks and dropping the sword as she raises it above her head to symbolize victory shows this as well as showing her fragility and bringing players back to Earth having them think “oh right! She’s just a little girl!”.
“Child Of Light” has one of the most auditorally-pleasing soundtracks that I’ve heard in quite some time. While other games have great soundtracks with great music, the tracks in “Child Of Light” felt like green tea for my ear canals. Tracks were mostly made up of soothing, whimsical0sounding notes that perfectly matched the vibe of the game and the environments players must traverse through but, at an instant, you could be thrust into battle and there you’re met with booming sounds of pure exhilaration. That mixed with the ultimately rewarding sounds of the crashing of Aurora’s sword, the jingling of Rubella’s bells as she struck an enemy or the whizzing of Finn’s magical attacks zapping an overgrown praying mantis.
It all just sounded so damn good! There isn’t a great deal of voice acting in this game, in fact, it only comes up every once in a while but, in the places where voice acting was present, the performances were absolutely brilliant. Beatrice Martin (known as “Cœur de pirate“) composed the music for “Child Of Light”. It was her inclusion in the development process that, I believe, truly brought out the best of this game’s audio. Having someone extremely talented and highly experienced with sound and music on the team really did many huge favors for “Child Of Light”. Mrs. Martin was able to bring the very best out of every scene by composing music that could flawlessly represent auditorally the feelings that it was trying to portray visually. From the first track to the final sound effect. Simple brilliance.
It’s almost like I’m lost for words when it comes to describing this game in any detail but, while playing it, it is truly hard to determine what you’ll say seeing as how it could be summed up by simply saying it was “perfect”. “Child Of Light” opened up something within me that I honestly didn’t think was there, something I thought I’d lost years ago when I reached the end of my fairy tale-liking stage of life, something that WASN’T opened up by the constant flow of fairy tale-based “Disney” movies but now I can feel it.
For a person like myself to not enjoy “fantasy” titles in gaming, it was actually quite a surprise that I liked this game as much as I did. To think but a week ago I walked into a local game store, was asked if I was there to purchase this game and replied “No. I’m not really into that stuff.” but here I am, I’ve opened myself up to a brand-new type of game and I’ve fallen victim to its wonder. While there are plenty of other games being released on the PlayStation 4, it’s more games like this that we need to prove that the next generation has truly begun.
Capsule Computers review guidelines can be found here.