Review: Child of Light is a gorgeous, fun fantasy
Platform: Xbox Live (Xbox 360, Xbox One), PlayStation Plus (PS3, PS4), PC
The first thing you notice about Child of Light when you begin is its art. You can’t deny how beautiful the game is. From the character design and animation to the environment and backdrops, the team at UbiSoft did an outstanding job creating a gorgeous and stimulating world.
Child of Light is the first game since 2011’s Rayman Origins and 2013’s Rayman Legends to use Ubisoft’s in-house graphics engine, UbiArt Framework. UbiArt Framework allows an artist’s art to easily be used in an interactive environment, letting the software handle the image distortion for animation and movement in a game. The engine lessens the technical requirements of the game and gives more focus to the art as well as speeds up development.
Child of Light is a side-scrolling, 2D role-playing game with turn-based battles. The game follows Aurora, a little girl who died, but wakes up in a different world (or another dimension?) called Lemuria. The story is told through poetry befitting a child’s bedtime story book. It fits perfectly with the art of the game, even if it kind of gets corny every now and then. Her father is so distraught he gets sick with grief, which causes the kingdom to begin crumbling. Aurora has to get back home to help her father, but before that she’s tasked with saving Lemuria by rescuing the sun, moon and stars from the Queen of Night. Although the premise of the story seems like it would be an emotional experience, I really didn't have much of an emotional connection with the characters throughout the game. The story didn't really captivate me in that fashion, most likely because of the childish way it was told. But it is undeniably a charming story that I’m sure kids would really get into.
Like any role-playing game in Child of Light you start off alone, with low strength and power,. After meeting Igniculus, a trusty firefly that teaches you about Lemuria, helps you explore it, and assists you during battle, you’re given a sword for battles. Then after some fights and defeating the first boss, you’re given the ability to fly throughout the world. The flying ability is terrific because it allows you to explore the world thoroughly while getting a better look at the art of the game. Sometimes I just flew around simply to enjoy the environment.
As previously mentioned, the battles are turned-based with you and a companion battling against one to three foes. There’s a meter at the bottom of the screen which lets you know how soon you or your enemy will be able to attack or cast a spell -- but once you or your enemy is in the casting zone of the meter, if any of you are hit before you reach the end of it you’re sent back to the middle or start. There are also ailments that slow progress on the meter. The game doesn't break any new ground here, but it is a fun element to the battle that has you thinking ahead and being tactical in your attacks.
As you play through the game you’ll pick up various companions that have powers and abilities that are very familiar to anyone who has played role playing games in the past 15 or 20 years. You’ll meet characters who are gifted in elemental magic (fire, water, and thunder), healing, brute strength, ranged attacks, and others. Of course enemies have their weaknesses; if you’re battling a wolf that’s on fire, your best bet would be to use water magic against him. Although you can only have two people from your party on screen at a time, you can easily switch members in and out of battle. In addition, you have independent control of Igniculus who can gather health and magic for you, plus shine in your enemies’ eyes to slow down their progress on the battle meter.
The skill trees for each character are also based on the classic role playing games of yesteryear. Experience points earned in battle earns skill points to add in the skill tree where you’re given the option to have your character focus on one skill path at a time or spread it out to all paths. I’m the type of RPG player that likes to start out balanced, gaining all the basic powers and skills, then excelling on the particular paths that I use most. For example, Robert is a ranged attacker who also offers antidotes when a character gets an ailment. Since I found I wasn't using his antidote skill very much, I concentrated on getting his ranged attack skill to its fullest potential.
Another aspect of battle is the Oculi system. As you traverse Lemuria, you’ll find a variety of gems like rubies, sapphires, tourmalines, diamonds, amethysts, and more. The Oculi System allows you to combine the gems to make different or bigger gems. You can use the gems to add different attributes to a characters’ attack, defense or health. The attributes can range from adding fire or electricity to attacks, being immune to a number of ailments, or earning an extra percentage of experience points after a battle.
Along with a handful of sidequests, including collecting confession letters floating around, and fully exploring the world, the game could last 15 hours — which isn't bad for the $14.99 price tag.
Here are the criteria I consider most important for judging Child of Light:
Presentation – 10/10
I can’t say it enough, the game is beautiful. At times I would just fly around the screen and enjoy the scenery. Plus the music, led by piano and string arrangements, pulls you in even more into the world of Lemuria.
Gameplay - 9/10
The gameplay isn’t groundbreaking but it is a nice tribute to the role playing games of yesteryear. The familiarity makes you comfortable from the start.
Story – 8/10
The story is adorable, appropriate for children, and there’s even a plot twist! All of the dialogue is written in rhyming poetry, which sometimes can come off cheesy, but it’s not annoying and I’m sure it wasn't an easy feat.
Price – 10/10
At $14.99, this is a sweet deal offering hours of fun.
Overall score: 9.3
Child of Light is an excellent mix of nostalgic RPG gameplay and modern art with a story that's accessible to pretty much anyone.
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