Child of Light Review: The Game We Need, But Not What We Deserve
Child of Light is a new IP from Ubisoft available for the PC, Xbox 360, PS3, Xbox One, and PS4. This game is not exactly “new-gen” but that doesn’t stop it from being a great game. To be honest, I didn’t care too much about it being on so many platforms, I was just excited to see a brand new game that wasn’t a new Borderlands, Assassin’s Creed, or some other sequel from a game company too afraid to create NEW games. So kudos to Ubisoft for breaking the mold. This game was not heavily marketed upon and while there was steady art and videos being released, there was still enough mystery about the game to make me interested. I was expecting a quirky but modest game that was enjoyable but have a lack of content. What I got was much more.
The Black Queen Umbra has stolen the Sun, Moon, and Stars from Lumeria. While she thinks this is a dream, Aurora must gather the help of random people she meets on her journey. With the help of her new friends, she must defeat the Black Queen and restore Lumeria to its former glory.
I really like the story. It has it’s fair share of twists and turns with the very memorable characters within the game. Something that really stood out with Child of Light’s writing is the dialogue. You will notice that the dialogue between all the characters is not how we speak, it is all in rhyme, as if the entire story is a poem or a nursery rhyme. This was incredibly creative in terms of originality. With the dialogue being executed in this style, you seem to relate to the characters better and there is a better connection between the player and game. The writing has a wonderful message within and it certainly has a lot of heart. While the combat is great, the story is certainly enough reason to pick up this game.
There has been a recent surge of turn based games lately many in the form of RPG. Child of Light brings back the classic ATB turn based combat popularized by Square’s Final Fantasy VII. In today’s gaming world, this is nostalgic and fresh despite being an older combat system. The process is simple, your two party members and up to 3 enemies are all on a gauge at the bottom of the screen. There is a wait time, and when the character’s portrait reaches the end of the line in the “cast” section, you can choose what action to take. Every action has a certain cast time as well. If an enemy hits your with an attack while cast (or visa versa) your action will be canceled and the character will have to wait longer to choose an action again. If timed correctly, you can do entire boss fights without allowing them to get a single action in.
The game gets more challenging later as bosses and regular enemies get abilities that allow them to counter attack because you interrupted their casting. These range from speed buffs, debuffs, and even damaging attacks, hell, some are combinations the two and it is rather very frustrating. This is where the game gets incredibly strategic. You can either possibly prevent a more damaging attack at the cost of the enemy getting a speed boost. It depends on what characters you use and how the battle is progressing. I found that interrupting was less important late game since the enemy getting a speed boost ends up being more damaging to the fight in the long run.
Aurora is accompanied by a firefly. This creature has a number of uses that can change the flow of battle and how you collect items in the overworld. By using the right stick you can illuminate the firefly, slowing enemies in battle so you can take your turns before them. You can also collect small amounts of health and “wishes” (wishes give the firefly the ability to light up). However, this slow is only available for as long as the bar has wishes in it. So you cannot hold it for very long. In boss battle, the plants that give you wishes regenerate. This firefly also can open doors and solve puzzles for Aurora. It is simple, and modest enough to make an impact on the game, but it is not a core mechanic that has the potential to make the game too easy or break the final product.
Your actions such as abilities or attacks upgraded through the skill tree. By the time you finish the game, you will only be able to fill up two branches from the skill tree all the way. While these trees are rather linear, they only contain certain high level skills. Because the character classes are so varied you want to find paths that compliment each other based on support magic, offensive magic, and physical damage. This is a welcome addition to the RPG genre because it gives more options and customization to the party members. Since you are only allowed two on the field at once strategy is crucial.
Child of Light lacks an equipment system. You do not find new weapons and armor to equip. There are gems known as Oculi. They start out small but if you combine the same color/size gems with each other, bigger gems are created with better effects. The best gems are obviously the Brilliant level gems. There are four base color gems that deal elemental damage. When equipped in the weapon slot these gems give the weapon base elemental damage. When you combine different colors you get colors like diamond, amethyst, citrine, tourmaline, onyx, and sinal. These colors have unique effects all around when equipped to the weapon, armor, and accessory slots. Since there are characters that are more useful physical attackers you will generally use those elemental gems on them so when they attack an enemy they will do up to 20% extra damage to them. Gems like diamond give you casting bonuses, exp boosts, or even speed boosts. I found these useful on the mages like Finn or Tristis. Yet again we get something that is oddly fun to do. Whenever I upgraded three gems into the next tier, I unequipped all the gems on every party member and redid their Oculi to make sure everything is evenly distributed. The Oculi system is a nice alternative to the equipment system gamers are so used to.
This is a 15 dollar game, as such you can expect this game to lack some content and it is very possible to 100% this game in one playthrough. The replay value is lacking due to the linear story and small amount of sidequests. However, for Child of Light the amount of content within feels perfect for the message the game is conveying and how it is presenting itself as a RPG. There are still missable collectible and side-quests. Some side quests are so random and vague you will have some trouble figuring out where to trade that shovel for the quest Free Trade. The game has about 10 hours of gameplay and that is rather short for a RPG but the game wraps up nicely. There is also a hard mode if you are feeling dangerous.
Other than the length, I found nothing wrong with Child of Light. The music was great, the story was incredible, the combat was tight and precise, and the level design was clever. It has everything that makes a video game great. While it is not a current generation only title, it is still worth getting regardless of the play time. I really recommend this game to really only with a PC or console. It is exactly the kind of game this industry needs now, a new IP.
I give Child of Light (Played on the Xbox One) a perfect 10/10. This is a wonderfully crafted game that everyone needs to try. You can pick it up on current generation consoles and last generation consoles as well as PC. It goes on Sale April 30th, 2014.