Why Aren't You Playing Child of Light?
Coming out of left-field for a big-budget gaming company like Ubisoft, Child of Light was highlighted by many for it's beautiful art direction and use of the UbiArt framework seen in the recent Rayman games. But many might have bypassed it as simply a pretty game, it's strong RPG sensibilities elevates it to one of the best downloadable games so far this year.
Child of Light is beautiful to look at.
You play as Aurora, a young Austrian girl who has taken ill, she falls to sleep and awakens in the mythical land of Lemuria. She is told that Lemuria's sun, moon, and stars have been stolen by the Dark Queen Umbra and that she needs to return them so that she can be reunited with her father, the Duke. Along the way she meets a variety of different supporting characters including the firefly Igniculus, who helps light the way in this dark world.
The first thing you notice, as you might have expected, is the excellent art design that looks incredible on new generation consoles and PC. It's got a wonderful watercolour effect, Aurora's hair flows in every scene and the art design just really draws you in before you even start playing the game.
The timeline adds a fun dimension to combat.
So on to gameplay which is split into two sections, roaming and battling. In the roaming parts, you explore the map as you look for secrets, enemies, puzzles, and items to help advance through the game. You are given the ability to fly relatively early on, allowing you to skip battles and travel between sections at a much faster rate. Battles, initiated when you walk into an enemy or triggered automatically in boss fights, it is essentially a turn-based battle system with a little twist.
There is a progress bar at the bottom split into two, two thirds for waiting to cast and the final third for casting. When either you, your supporting character, or the opponent reaches the start of the casting section, you choose a move and at the end of that section it is performed. However, if you manage to hit someone before they manage to cast whilst in that casting zone, they are bumped back in the timeline. It's a great little mechanic that has several little nuances to it, like using Igniculus' light to slow down your opponents or heal your characters.
Added to that are the different weaknesses of enemies, the different casting speeds that help with interruptions and different status affect that can affect strength, defence, speed or even paralyse an opponent. The system has been refined in such a way that it works fluently; it's very simple for someone to quickly understand and they add some great complications in boss battles with penalties for interrupting them.
The support characters all add something different to the game, with physical attackers, magic specialists, support characters or ones that aim to hinder the opponent. Leveling up is consistent, using skill trees is easy and it allows players to plan what they want each character to contribute to the team. Not only that, the Oculus system of collecting and crafting new stones that add different bonuses to your attack, defence, and a timeline bonus.
It has such a great deal of depth and experimentation that just makes combat such a joy to play. Whilst some will want to avoid consistently battling, I was finding myself looking for enemies to defeat because it was such a well-built and fun part of the game. The story was also stronger than I had anticipated, which even got better over time and something like that added to the great design and gameplay just makes the experience of playing Child of Light so worthwhile.
It's not quite perfect and it's not for everyone.
It does have some drawbacks, there isn't a great deal of enemy variety and when they do, they just change the colour palette just to distinguish it as being a different elemental type which is a disappointment. There isn't a great amount of challenge due to the switching out system, you never feel overwhelmed and with the abundance of items you'll only have someone faint when you aren't paying attention to their health.
The biggest issue the game has isn't anything to with its design, more that some people just don't like playing the turn-based battle system. The timeline keeps it fresh in Child of Light and that might change some people's minds but not everyone's so if you feel that you'd dislike it because of that then don't go for it simply because it's been highly recommended everywhere else.
But, if you do love turn-based battling, you will thoroughly enjoy his game. It's smart, beautiful, and it really draws you in from the first minute to the last. It's available now on PS4, PS3, PS Vita, Xbox One, Xbox 360, Wii U, and on Steam for around £12 in the UK, an absolute bargain for 10 hours of a really solid game.
Paul_2424July 8, 2014, 7:28 amI'm not playing it because the save file corrupted near the end of the Sea and there's only one autosaving slot, so my game is ruined. It was cute to explore and play the first time, and the most godawful chore to go through it again. I really did like it, I guess because the first time I played I was very uncritical and swept away by the pretty lights and sounds. But it's really not a great game and being forced to replay it with all of the wonder removed is dreadful. Hands up who wants to do the firefly or trade sidequest again!
(also the Confessions are like they're from a whole different game, it's admirable they wrote a load of backstory and some other stuff but it's just really not connected with what you're doing. Sophie sounds great though, shame she's nothing to do with anything)