When we were children the world was an easier place, allowing us more time to enjoy the finer things in life. When I think of my childhood, I envision my time spent in front of the TV, basking in the array of magical whimsy that classic children’s films provided. It was a beautiful time, and in many ways, these films shaped my life, and allowed me to be who I am today. Though films were merely one facet, these beautiful moments were also given to me in the form of gorgeous children’s books, allowing myself to be whisked away in the fantastical world the author had created.
Few games have been able to correctly portray these classical adventures from children’s films, fairy tales and books. When I think of successful releases that capture the essence of my fond childhood memories, I think of Unfinished Swan, and Puppeteer. Both titles provided an experience that could rival the classic Disney films of yonder years, or the visual splendour that a child’s picture book could give. Ubisoft Montreal has now given me another experience like these, one that truly captured these beautiful memories; this experience is found in Child of Light.
Child of Light brings us to the mythical land of Lemuria, where we encounter a young girl named Aurora, who was struck with an illness that made her fall into a deep sleep. When she awakes, she finds herself in this fantastical land, where the grand task of saving the Lemuria and her own father begins. Like previously mentioned classic films, Child of Light produces an inspiring tale of a young child who much showcase courage in the face of adversity, while also keeping her kind heart.
From my brief description, it is easy to see the similarities Child of Light possesses when compared to childhood films and fairy tales; and although similar, it has enough charm and unique style to provide a memorable adventure of its own. Aurora is a lovable child, who – above all else – doesn’t see herself as anyone special; though when the chips are down, there is no one more righteous to have by your side.
This endearing tale is accompanied by some beautiful writing, in-which the entire game is written in rhyme. The limerick based structure isn’t something seen often in the interactive medium, and it is one that continuously left a warm feeling in my heart. Alongside the rhyming dialogue is the female narrator, who reads us the main narrative exposition as it occurs. This aspect reminded me of a young mother reading her children fairy tales, before they would slowly drift to sleep. Though a minor detail in the grand scheme of Child of Light, it was one greatly appreciated.
Child of Light has been built on the UbiArt Framework Engine, which allowed the artists to insert their hand drawn concept art into the game world itself. Because of this, Child of Light feels like a handcrafted world, one that was created with beautiful detail. Child of Light’s entire visual display is reminiscent of a water-based painting, which features gorgeous transitions in-between some of the vital moments throughout the tale.
The colourful landscapes of Lemuria look gorgeous, whether you are discovering a town of English speaking mice, entering the belly of a golem in need, or travelling through ocean caverns. The variety of locations Aurora and her friends explore throughout Child of Light does an amazing job at emphatically showcasing the epic journey they have experienced. Every new location I discovered along the way felt new and endearing, making me want to explore every inch of these vast environment in hopes of discovering every aspect they had to offer.
Child of Light’s most influential moment came to me when the beautiful art style was complimented by the amazing musical score. During one section of Aurora’s adventure, I found myself overwhelmed by the artistic display that the musical accompaniment and visual art style provided in unison. The feeling was nothing short of amazing, providing one of the most powerful emotions I have had the pleasure of experiencing due to the video games industry. The moment took me back to when I was a little child, where there was nothing else but the adventure in front of my eyes, where I found myself completely lost in the experience. Encapsulated by the beauty on screen.
Ubisoft hasn’t just accomplished an excellent representation of classic fairy tales, it has also created an excellent gaming experience. Child of Light’s battle system closely replicates the system found in the Grandia series. The combat has each participant in the battle at hand showcased on a single plane; as the battle progresses, each warrior moves along the timeline, in order to strike their opponent. If strikes are made against a participant while they are in the action section of the timeline, they will be set back and their attack interrupted. Utilising Aurora’s firefly companion, Igniculous, players are able to slow down their opponents, leaving them open for the opportune time to attack. Though the system is simple to understand, there is enough depth that will allow those who master it to become a lethal force against common enemies.
Exploring the land of Lemuria also became one of my favourite aspects of Child of Light. Aurora is given the ability to fly early on in the game, allowing her to glide around the environment with an elegant grace. Lemuria is a great place to explore, but there are hundreds of hidden chests and upgrades throughout the land. These items incentivised me to comb the land in search of these hidden artifacts. Finding a hidden tunnel and being presented with these rare items was a rewarding venture, one that gave me an excuse to explore these mystical lands.
Child of Light is far from being perfect, but that didn’t stop me from having an amazing time playing it. Although 2014 has barely reached its half-way point, Child of Light has provided the most captivating and magical adventure so far. Despite its flaws, Child of Light has a soft spot in my heart, one that I never plan on forgetting.