With the look and feel of a children’s fairytale, Child of Light is a fantastical game that is beautiful, charming and at times funny whilst also being great fun to play.
You play as Aurora, the daughter of a Duke from 19th Century Austria, whom becomes unwell and her illness forces her into a deep sleep. When she awakes Aurora finds herself in Lemuria, a world that has been infested with dark creatures after the Dark Queen Umbra stole the world’s sun, moon and stars. After meeting a firefly by the name of Igniculus, Aurora sets out to recover the celestial bodies and to find a way back to her father. Along the way you will meet the many inhabitants of Lemuria, aiding and assisting them with their own tales of misfortune to help them, and you, on what plays like a coming-of-age quest.
One of the first things you will notice upon playing Child of Light is just how beautiful the game is. The game uses Ubisoft’s UbiArt Framework engine, which will be familiar to those that have played Rayman Legends or even PS3/PS4 title Valiant Hearts, to bring the world and characters of Lemuria to life. Child of Light’s visual style adds to the fairy-tale feel of the game, the characters and the backdrops would not look out of place if they were to grace the pages of a storybook.
Child of Light’s story is told in the form of a poem. Using a ballad style, a lot of the dialogue is made up of four-line stanzas – with words at the end of the second and fourth lines rhyming. This is broken up at times by rhyming couplets or even triplets that are used to emphasise certain plot elements and the game’s collectable Confessions that float around the world are written in the form of a sonnet. This furthermore adds to the whole fairy-tale theme of the game, but at times I found myself getting distracted from the story that the poetry was delivering due to me focusing more on whether the words rhymed rather than taking in the story.
The bulk of the story is told using subtitles, with animated cutscenes featuring narration to convey key story elements. I preferred this when playing Child of Light as it allowed me to play the game at my own pace, and allowed for me to take my time when paying attention to what was happening during the game. The parts of the story that were spoken were voiced brilliantly, with the narration fitting the game’s feel perfectly.
The game’s soundtrack fits in perfectly with the fairy-tale nature of the game. Composed by Canadian artist Coeur de Pirate, with the Bratislava Symphony Orchestra, the music in Child of Light really adds to the emotion of the game and its characters. Each piece of music perfectly matches the feelings of joy, sorrow and despair felt by the characters throughout the story. Even the sound effects of Aurora’s footsteps or the fluttering of her wings adds to the atmsosphere.
Traversing the land of Lemuria is simple, using the left analogue stick to move Aurora about the two-dimensional landscape using Square to interact with the environment and X to jump; you will soon bump into Igniculus the firefly that helps you on your journey in numerous ways. Igniculus is controlled using the right analogue stick to fly around the screen and using the Left shoulder button to illuminate areas or to even open chests in areas that Aurora cannot reach. Using Igniculus’ powers does use up the firefly’s energy. This can be refuelled by collecting orbs which are found amongst the shrubbery dotted about the world. About an hour into the game Aurora is granted the power of flight, which allows for you to reach previously unreachable areas and allows you to explore every nook and cranny of this well-designed world.
As you travel through Lemuria, you will meet the different characters that inhabit the world. Some of these will ask you to help them with various quests – some of these characters will also join your party to assist you in battle. As you journey the land to fulfil your own and others quests you will spot the game’s many dark creatures wandering the paths that you must take. Combat is initiated by either Aurora flying into the enemy or the enemy spotting you and attacking you. Once initiated, you will take on up to three enemies in turn based battles. Each player’s (and enemy’s) turn is based on a meter that appears at the bottom of the screen. This bar is split into a ‘wait’ zone and a ‘cast’ zone. You can speed up your party’s wait time by upgrading specific skills in the game’s skill tree or by using potions that will give you a quick speed boost. On the other side of this, you can also slow down your enemies wait between turns by using either potions or Igniculus. During the battle Igniculus can fly around the battle zone blinding enemies by shining in an enemy’s eye causing an enemy’s turn to be slowed down. Again, this uses up Igniculus’ energy but luckily there are plants that give orbs dotted around the area of battle.
Like many RPG’s, different enemies have different strengths and weaknesses. You can take two party members into battle and each one has their own key strengths that mean certain characters are best suited to fight certain enemies. Luckily you can swap party members mid-battle, even switching out fallen comrades for a healthy party member if you run out of revive potions. This allows you to experiment with all the different characters to find a combination that best suits you.
To further aid your chances in battle there is a crafting system in the game that allows you to combine gems that increase certain attributes in the game. These gems are known as Occuli, and can be found in the numerous treasure chests dotted about the world or are dropped by enemies once you defeat them. Assigning Occuli to a party member will add stat increases and sometimes an elemental attribute to their attack, defence or speed which can help greatly if used correctly.
The only problem that I found with the combat, and this is really my only complaint about the game as a whole, is that you can get through the game using only a couple of the half dozen members that make up your party. Once I had found a combination of characters that worked in all battles, there wasn’t any incentive for me to switch between the party members I had at my disposal meaning that I only used about half of the characters that made up my party.
I was playing the Deluxe Edition of Child of Light, which included an extra quest to playthrough titled the ‘Golem’s Plight’ and also rewards you with a selection of Occuli so you can start crafting from the off. This added a little extra to the game, but don’t worry if you buy the Standard Edition as without the additional extras you will still experience a stunning game with the option to purchase the extras as standalone DLC.
During my playthrough of the game, which clocked in at just over ten hours, I had great fun exploring this fairy-tale world. The graphics and the soundtrack are (like the game) out of this world, making Child of Light one fairytale that people of all ages should take the time to enjoy!