Review: Child of Light
Developer: Ubisoft Montreal
Child of Light is about a Duke’s favored daughter, Aurora,.
She passes on in the opening scene. End of story?
Not quite. Our hero ends up in the land of Lemuria,
A fanciful land that has fallen from its former glory.
The stars are gone, as well as the sun and moon
All taken by a tyrannical ruler, an evil queen
The inhabitants of this world all fear her
At least, until our hero jumps into this scene.
The joy of this story is not in its surprise,
Nor its length of time.
Rather, it is the characters, charm,
And, of course, how the words all match… I mean, rhyme!
I hope you get the gist of it. Child of Light is incredible in its presentation of the dialog! Every line in this game plays out like a children’s story book. The game itself even shows that it is aware of this fact. Early on you will acquire a party member that does not speak in rhyme and the other characters all scramble to finish her sentences. Even when you open a trap treasure chest you get dialog from the characters asking “I wonder what’s inside.” and a monster will pop out and scream “Homicide!”
The story itself is not deep and is easy to follow along with. In the early goings, Aurora gets dragged into a quest to save the world and seems willing to accept it with no resistance or thought. You run into party members along the way that all need the hero’s help for one reason or another. Over the course of helping these various citizens of Lemuria, Aurora gets closer to her objectives, such as the Moon Temple, in an organic way.
Each character has their own unique charm, but few of them have any real impact outside of their initial quest (or eventual completion of said quest). Aurora does most of the talking when encountering new villages. What brought me to accepting this is that Aurora has a very humble manner upon her. She wears a crown, but every time someone addresses her as “Princess” she immediately removes it and says “Oh, no. Call me Aurora, please”. The gaming industry is so full of arrogant, loud-mouth leads that it was refreshing to have a polite, young girl as the main character.
Overall, the story won’t take you very long to complete. It will last about 10-20 hours based on your difficulty, side quests taken, crafting, and others. While at first I was wary of this (I love long RPGs), the game fits perfectly in this time span. Nothing groundbreaking in the story, but the execution is where it wins the points and where I draw my rating from.
If you were expecting an RPG like those made by Idea Factory with 14 different types of points spend in 35 ways to alter character growth, please go back and play Agarest War instead. Child of Light is all about simplicity in its gameplay. Battles and movement on the map are vehicles to get you through the true purpose of the game, which is the story as described above. That said, the gameplay is still very enjoyable.
Battles are controlled by a timeline at the bottom of the screen with a potrait representing each battle participant. As a character reaches about 80% of the way down the timeline, time stops and you choose their attack. From there, the attack charges until they hit the end of the timeline upon which time the attack is executed. The catch is that if an ally or enemy is attacked during this charge phase, their action is cancelled and they are sent back on the gauge to about the halfway point. This makes each battle about strategy. Some attacks charge faster than others allowing you to attack before an enemy that is charging and cancel their attack. Defending reduces damage and speeds up your next turn; always a good choice if you can see that an enemy will cancel your attack.
Child of Light is not a difficult game by any means. My large stashes of healing items were not even touched until I reached a boss about 6 chapters in. Each battle has glowing flowers that you can use your little, blue “firefly”, as Aurora calls him, to pick up extra HP and MP. You can also hold your blue companion over an enemy to severely slow that monster down on the battle gauge. That one move alone makes the battle system broken highly in your favor.
Outside of battle, it is fun to fly around the environment. You get great rewards for exploration in the form of permanent stat boosts and gems used for forging. The forging is very simple: combine 3 gems of the same color to make a bigger gem, or combine two gems of different colors to make an entirely new gem. These gems, or oculi, provide various battle bonuses such as elemental damage/resistant or XP boosts.
Leveling up happens frequently and you gain a skill point each level to add to a table of skills. Character builds only really matter early on as you will eventually get enough skill points to complete the board.
Simple, yet fun gameplay. I would have preferred some more options in terms of character customization, personally.
This game is beautiful! Characters look hand-drawn and towns look like they came from a pop-up book. None of it pushes graphic standards to new heights, but it fits well in their theme. This is a game that will still look good 10 years from now because it doesn’t rely on an art style that quickly becomes dated.
I played the PS3 version, admittedly; I was not made aware in any of my communications with users that had other versions of any significant differences between consoles.
+ Great presentation of the story and characters
+ Easy to get into, even for a RPG novice
+ The art style is unique
- Hardcore RPG players will be disappointed by the simplistic system
- Too short for those of us that enjoy long games (This may be a plus for you).