It is always a pleasant surprise when a game comes out that is different from the usual “play by the rules” games that are released on a regular basis. More often than not, these unique gems come from an independent developer that has no association with any big company. Although once in a blue moon, one of the big AAA developers will come up with something that will turn heads. This is the case with Child of Light, developed by none other than Ubisoft.
To be honest, the fact that Child of Light was made by Ubisoft caught me off guard when I first heard about the game. A turn based RPG with a story borrowing elements from fairy tales, doesn't seem like the kind of game you'd expect to see come out of Ubisoft. Yet instead of another Rayman, Far Cry, or Assassin's Creed, Ubisoft decided to go with a project that is certainly one of the more memorable games of 2014 so far.
Child of Light is about a young girl named Aurora, whom wakes up in a world known as Lemuria. She seeks to find a way home, but first she must defeat the Queen of the Night and release the sun, the moon, and the stars from captivity so that light may be restored to the land. From the beginning to end, one can see that fairy tales were a source of inspiration for Child of Light. Although, the game could have gone without the lyrical rhyme that characters speak with. It is a nice touch in some parts, but it feels forced most of the time.
The most unique thing about Child of Light would be its graphics. Child of Light was designed to look like illustrations out of a storybook, and Ubisoft really succeeded in doing this. Every environment and character feels like they were drawn and painted by hand, and each corner of Lemuria is filled with vibrant color and imagery. A great deal of thought and effort went into creating Lemuria, and that attention to detail shines radiantly throughout the game.
Child of Light plays like a platformer mixed with a turn based JRPG. While it is an unusual combination, most of the experience is well polished. Throughout the game, you'll navigate across Lemuria as you fight monsters and open treasure chests. When you encounter a monster, you are transported to a battle stage where the turn based combat kicks in. Although Child of Light is turn based, there is an element of real time because of the cast time each particular ability has. With this system, you are able to interrupt an enemy's action and keep them from attacking. This also can be used against you, requiring some basic amount of strategy in battle.
Child of Light has several other staples from RPGs, including a skill tree and the ability to craft gems (AKA occuli) and equip them to get a variety of special effects applied to your characters. While these are nice additions, the skill trees don't feel particularly varied for some characters and are more or less a linear path of general stat upgrades. Even the platforming and minor puzzle solving segments of Child of Light feel like they are conforming to some conventional genre standards, including some very frustrating timed puzzles where you have to reach a door before it closes.
RPG elements aside, one of Child of Light's more unique gameplay features takes the form of the firefly accompanying Aurora. Igniculus, the firefly, can use his light to open particular treasure chests, heal, and even temporarily blind enemies in order to slow them. While Igniculus can be controlled by one player, there is the option to have him be operated by a second player. While the second player will mostly just be healing you or activating various objects throughout Lemuria, it is a good opportunity to play the game and experience the story with a friend.
While Child of Light is certainly not a long game by RPG standards, it is fun while it lasts. Child of Light depicts a fantasy world filled with dreamlike places and creatures that will capture the player's imagination from beginning to end. If you are into RPGs and are looking for something that stands out among the crowd, then Child of Light is certainly worth picking up.
RBFB Rating: B+