Child of Light (Xbox One) Review
Posted by Doug Yates on 05.09.2014
Does Ubisoft's foray into RPG territory have a fairy tale ending, or is it a villainous disaster? See what 411's Doug Yates thinks inside.
Title: Child of Light Developer: Ubisoft Publisher: Ubisoft Players: 1-2
Child of Light is an honest attempt at something new by a big publisher and its success depends on what you value in your games. Branching out into new territory is always tricky and that is quite evident in some of the rougher aspects of Ubisoft’s take on the JRPG.
Aurora is a princess and the protagonist. The game starts with what appears to be her death and then awakening in a strange and unfamiliar world. Upon exploring she meets Igniculus her constant companion who is a firefly. Igniculus leads her to the lady of light where she learns that she must recover three artifacts and return them to the lady of light so that she might find her way back home to her family, who is also in danger from the dark queen.
The immaculately designed game world is truly breathtaking at times. The detail put into every aspect of the world make it feel truly alive. The multi-layered backgrounds are rife with motion and life, especially in towns where characters can be seen in the distance wandering the markets while chimneys smoke and vendors hawk their wares.
With a hand painted look that comes straight out of fairy tales of old, it’s no surprise that the characters are an odd lot with everything from a talking firefly, to a jester who cannot seem to find the rhyme scheme, or a talking mouse who is far too interested in commerce. Unfortunately these characters—while interesting upon first inspection—quickly become as thin as their two-dimensional surroundings.
This could be at least in part due to the forced rhyming that accompanies all dialogue for the course of the entire game. What starts out as an interesting mechanic quickly becomes irritating and distracting from the actual content. Maybe it’s just my lack of knowledge when it comes to poetry, but it also seems as though the meter of the rhyme often jumps around to accommodate the writers.
Luckily the gameplay itself is far more interesting and innovative than the narration. Within the world the gameplay is a fairly straightforward platformer with light puzzle elements, mostly of the box pushing or lever pulling variety. The fights on the other hand are turn based similar to JRPGs of yore. The twist comes in the form of a meter at the bottom of the screen showing which character’s turn is coming up, but hitting enemies at the action stage of the meter will set them back farther back, allowing you to juggle them and prevent their future actions if you’re careful.
Igniculus is an important part of the battle encounters as he can be strategically used for both offensive and defensive measures. If the right trigger is held while he is over an enemy he will blind them with his light, slowing their progress on the battle meter, while holding it over your characters will actively heal them. His abilities run off of a meter that fills slowly on its own throughout the battle, but it can also be filled by collecting wishes that can be found hidden in glowing plants within the fighting arena.
In battle, the party consists of two characters, each of which can be substituted out on any turn. Switching often is key to making the battles flow better as each character has their own small set of skills that help the group, from healing abilities to spells that slow enemies and speed allies on the battle gauge.
The equipment screen is also a different beast than most other RPGs. Each character has three slots on which you can attach an occulus. The occuli are stones found throughout the world or cleverly mixed in your inventory to create more powerful stones, or different stones in general. For instance, mixing a ruby and a sapphire will make an amethyst. Adding occuli will raise different stats or add an elemental effect to your weapon causing more damage to certain types of enemies (although the enemy types are not always clear).
The music is often a bit dark and adds a nice element of tension. It can just as quickly switch to a more bright and breezy tone, all of which coincide well with the environment that you are currently exploring, whether it be a dark forest or a beautiful clifftop vista. The only actual voice work for the game is the narrator as all of the characters are text only, but her work is spot on and is one of the few instances where the rhyming is not so cumbersome.
• Beautifully detailed world.
• Emotive soundtrack helps breathe more life into the game.
• Great fighting mechanic and interesting crafting system.
• Two dimensional characters.
• Story never seems to find its identity.
Obviously when taking cues from old world fairy tales—both visually and in narrative—it can sometimes be difficult to figure out exactly who this game is aimed at as the story can be a bit dry for the youngsters, but the characters are a bit shallow for the adults, so it comes in somewhere in the middle where both parties are ultimately left wanting.
Stunning art style and world design.
Interesting turn based fights and fun platforming exploration.
Beautifully emotive soundscape encompasses the entire game.
Once your done even with a new game plus there is little reason to return.
Some minor irritations and lack or depth hold this one back from true greatness.