Platforms: Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3 (reviewed), PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, Wii U, Xbox 360, Xbox One
In a world full of generic military shooters, cookie cutter zombie games and Minecraft clones, it’s quite refreshing to see Ubisoft breathing life into the industry with creative and beautiful games like Rayman Origins and now Child of Light.
Let’s start with the obvious, Child of Light is absolutely gorgeous. From the beautiful character designs to the amazing environments (and even its music), every detail of its art direction feels lovingly crafted. More than once I found myself in awe at just how far we’ve come when it comes to video game graphics while playing Child of Light. This made it very easy to search every corner of the world for hidden goodies just because I wanted to what was waiting just off screen and I was rarely disappointed with what I found.
Unfortunately, while nowhere near terrible, Child of Light’s story doesn’t quite live up to its outer beauty. You take the role of Aurora, a child who goes to sleep one night and wakes in a strange world that she must escape from in order to get back to her father. In the beginning, the story drew me in, but as the game progressed I found myself less and less enamored by it. A big reason for this was the dialog, which was presented as one long poem. At first this was cute, but it quickly felt like they were putting words into lines just because they rhymed and it this made things feel very forced. Eventually I was skipping through dialog so I could get back into the world.
Like with most RPGs, when you aren’t exploring or getting story bits you’ll be in battle. Each battle in Child of Light revolves around a timeline. On this timeline will be two of your party members and up to three enemies. Combat is turn based and once one of your party members reaches the “cast” section of the timeline you’ll be able to choice an action, use a potion, switch party members, or flee from the fight. Each action takes a specific amount of time to cast ranging from instant (to defend) to very long (to cast your more power spells). Child of Light’s combat can actually be quite strategic because there are ways to slow down your opponents and if they (or you for that matter) get attacked while in the cast phase, they will be knocked back on the timeline without getting to cast their spell. So if you are strategic enough there are times when you can actually keep your enemies from doing anything during battle.
Eventually combat starts to feel a bit repetitive, but you choose whether or not you want to engage most enemies, so the number of battles you partake in is up to you. One thing that changes up combat is the various party members you will recruit throughout the game, which also leads to one of my biggest complaints. I would have loved to see one more party member added to each battle, so I could have experimented with different abilities. The timeline approach may have made things a bit hectic, but it would have been nice to get more party members involved. Other than that, I felt the combat was both fun and just tough enough to keep me interested through my 10 to 12 hours with the game.
The somewhat lackluster story withheld, Child of Light has a lot going for it. It’s easy on the eyes, fun to play and has a charm that is sure to suck you into its world. If you’re an RPG fan, this is a game you should seriously consider trying out. As it stands now, Child of Light is one my favorite games of 2014 and I can’t recommend it enough.