For months I had been awaiting the arrival of Child of Light, well now that it’s here and it has been worth the wait. Child of Light is by far one of the most charming, beautiful and most heartfelt game I’ve played in a long time. It is held back slightly by a lack of detail within the scope of an RPG, but it suits the tone and feeling you come away with.
Coming from the same mind behind the story of insanity ridden Far Cry 3, Child of Light is a poetic, heartfelt tale of death and the beyond. You play as flowing red haired Aurora, whose wavy locks constantly move and shake in the wind as you play, even when standing still. Aurora’s perceived death at the start of the game begins a story exploring the idea of the afterlife or a purgatory state of living. The story is progressed through a series of beautifully crafted scrolling stain glass windows, with a poetic story voiceover in tow. This is reminiscent of classic fairytale structure and shows that fancy drawn out cinematics are not needed for an enticing storyline. These ‘cut-scenes’ are just a part of the story. Aurora’s interactions with characters is told through rhymes, a long lasting poem which both benefits and subtracts from the story and the feeling. It’s a little hard to laugh at the witty dialogue and puns when certain words are shoe-horned in for rhyming effect. The idea though is imaginative, and only becomes a hindrance on occasion.
The story itself is emotional, with many moments genuinely pulling on my heart strings. Aurora’s tragedy is furthered by her interactions with the various characters you meet through your travels. Her sadness with the situation is certainly felt by the player, keeping you enticed further along the story.
Exploring is a joy to behold, the contours of Aurora’s body feel somewhat realistic, with flight feeling substantial rather than fake. The way she pushes through the atmosphere is fantastic, cued with a rise in uplifting music, makes flying to the heavens above a simply elevating moment. Child of Light is full of these gratifying experiences, even if they are on a low level of importance. They all contribute to a more expansive and enjoyable playing experience, which Child of Light certainly brings to the table. It promises an open world, and delivers a world much smaller than the traditional open worlds, with the game operating on a left to right basis. There aren’t many different paths to your destinations, but there is still plenty to see and do.
So far I have talked about how pretty and charming the game is, without delving too much into the base mechanics. After all this is an RPG, and must try to conform to the established ideas set in place from the famous RPG’s of old. In a very basic sense, Child of Light tries to go almost ‘old-school’. Character skill-sets and abilities are all part of the equation here, but the execution is lacking slightly. The interface is bright and colourful, giving you a nice feeling for a couple of seconds, only to let you down on the amount of information each screen gives you. An RPG is usually includes stacks of statistics. Although each character has their own stats, those stats aren’t shown in the places they need to be. When levelling up through the well thought out skill tree, I would have liked to see what buffs I needed to employ to make my heroes stronger. For example the skill would increase my HP by 1 point, but you cannot see what the current HP is.
The interfaces and menus are a little clunky in this way, and although it hurts the experience, it’s not detrimental to my overall enjoyment of the game. The reason these issues aren’t massive; the battle system.
The battle system in Child of Light is simply fantastic, there isn’t another way to describe it. A mix of real-time and turn based styles makes a real winner. It allows the employment of ‘on the fly’ tactics to get the most out of your attacks. There are two hero spaces on the field compared to the three enemy spaces. These can be filled by a range of different monsters and ghouls, each having a respective strength and weakness. As part of the real time element, you can decide to distract or interrupt attacks although taking using a turn based system. Characters hit an attack phase in the battle, if hit their planned attack can be interrupted, forcing them back to the waiting stage. This means you have to be tactical and methodical in your plans, carefully considering who you need to target to keep your heroes safe from damage and also being interrupted.
Battles can be slightly repetitive, stages of ‘attack, interrupt, disrupt and attack’ happen until the creatures are dead. The boss battles are where the battle system shines, with tactics playing a major part. Attack the wrong enemy and you will find yourself taking major damage from the main boss itself. Although the battles are fun, there is no real indication to how you’re doing within that battle. There are no markers on screen for enemy level or hit-points, usually standard fare in a RPG. Defeating a boss who is a few levels above you is one of the best feelings going, and it’s a shame that the feeling isn’t here. Sure, beating a challenging boss is invigorating, but having an idea of scale would be more than welcome. Despite the slight-negatives, Child of Light’s battle system is still fantastic, and although there are no meters for health, there are subtle animation shifts which give you an idea of how close you are to defeating them.
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Beautifully Drawn and Animated
A different take on a battle system
Poetic story is interesting…
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…if a little sometimes put on.
Lack of detail on a few of the screens