Right, I’ve been playing a few games recently and feel the need to talk about them, though granted, I’m not a hardcore gamer so I don’t know my stuff as much as others do. But still, what better way to start off than a review?
Let’s start with Child of Light.
A game built on a poetic narrative and a fairytale, Child of Light is bound to whisk your inner child away on a fantasy land named Lemuria, just as Aurora, the daughter of a duke, had been when she passed away in her sleep from an illness. The girl wakes up in the unfamiliar land, where she is guided by the Lady of the Forest to a sword that she uses to defend herself. She is tasked to find the sun, the moon, and the stars to release Lemuria from the grasp of the evil Dark Queen, but deep down, Aurora still longs for a way to return to her father’s side.
Created by Ubisoft, Child of Light has been described by the team as a “love letter to JRPG fans“. In a way, it holds true, with its fighting side using a Active Time Battle system found in games like Final Fantasy and staple characters (warrior, white mage, black mage, etc.) in the playable team. What mostly struck out to me that wasn’t in other JRPGs was a quite a bit, however, and they bring a fresh air to Child of Light.
Amazing art is something that Child of Light is noted for, if anything. Though it is unlike some other JRPGs in its style, such as Final Fantasy XV with its highly realisticpictures, Child of Light has adopted a 2D side-scrolling, watercolor-esque style. But don’t be fooled, the landscapes are flawless and Aurora’s hair is hypnotic to just watch.
- Igniculus is a firefly that you befriend early on, and is easily an indispensable team member. Though he doesn’t actively participate in battle as a fighter, Igniculus helps in other ways that must not be taken for granted. In battle, you can control Igniculus with the right control stick or the screen (if on the PS Vita), where he can move freely from your teammate or to an enemy, depending on where you place him. From there, he can shine to either slowly heal your character or to blind your enemy. Either can help you in a bind if timed perfectly; healing your character may save them from death for another turn and blinding your enemy will cause them to slow down on the timeline, which may prove vital in turning the tides of a battle.
He’s still important outside of battle too. He’s able to pick up power-ups or chests outside of Aurora’s reach, and he can heal Aurora too if needed by simply shining on her as if in battle. I actually did feel handicapped when the little blue light disappeared, which just exemplifies how much the player can really rely on Igniculus, especially since multiplayer mode allows the second player to take control of Igniculus, which is a nice touch.
- Easy mode is a really great way to start off the game, especially if you’re a more casual player like me (or just people with very hot tempers who don’t have the patience to try-and-die). Easy mode provides a nice learning curve for first timers, so much so that you don’t really have to grind as much as normal JRPGs would force you to, or initially, grind at all. Of course, you’re still required to fight normal enemies that you find on the way, but if you don’t feel like it, the developers have added a way to avoid them by shining Igniculus’ light on the enemies during adventure mode, allowing you a free passage to pass by them without a battle. It’s also incredibly helpful when all of the members in your team are dying, and gives you control over who to fight.
For gamers who feel that they’re so hardcore that just the word ‘casual’ is an insult, Child of Light has a Hard Mode installed too. But be warned, its ‘Hard Mode’ was misnamed, and should really be called ‘Holy Fucking Shit Hard Mode‘. Enemies are considerably far harder, making Easy Mode look like a mere toy for a baby and forcing you to grind for a much longer time, and ‘wishes’ in battle (plants that provide a source of fuel for Igniculus) no longer gives health and mana, but solely light for Igniculus. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve died fighting normal enemies, and despite the calm, fairytale setting the game has immersed itself in, I still felt like throwing my Vita to a wall.
- The poetic scheme that Child of Light implements is also worth a notable mention. Being a writer, I sometimes find it hard to even write a short, rhyming poem. To write a full script as an extended poem is epic, and though there are times where some lines could have been phrased better, it is still amazing in literary terms. The story itself is also a seamless fit to the game, styled after a children’s fairytale book, adjusts perfectly in with the setting. There are a few questions that I still have to ask, but since there’s talks about a sequel in development, they will all be hopefully answered in due time.
- The short playtime (10-12 hours) leaves a lot to be desired. While short playtime does not necessarily translate into a bad game, Child of Light could have benefited greatly from a longer playtime as the few last chapters felt rushed to me, personally, and the ten chapters could have been spaced a bit more evenly. We meet the big bads that truly create an twist to the story only in the last chapters, never really in the middle, so their characters don’t feel as explored as it should have been. Instead, the previous chapters are only there for Aurora to pick up new members for her army that don’t feel as explored either, and they could have made it so that it connects with Aurora’s story as well other than to just meet new teammates.
- Undeveloped characters are also a problem while we’re on that topic. Most of Aurora’s teammates are only introduced with a problem she has to solve, and no other character development once she’s done. Though Aurora grows considerably throughout the game (but yet again, not as evenly spaced as it should have been) and although her personality had matured in a subtle manner, it’s still not enough to show that she has truly grown from being just a child.
Ubisoft truly made a great effort with Child of Light, especially when you consider that this is out of the company’s comfort zone. It’s really fun to immerse yourself in the beauty of the game, and you can still play it over again with Hard Mode if you particularly feel like challenging yourself.
Unfortunately, like all new games outside of someone’s comfort zone, it’s still got its ticks and hitches. Thankfully, it’s something that they can easily repair with putting a bit more work into the characters, but other than that, Child of Light is definitely worth playing.
P.S. Do not buy the Deluxe Version or any sort of DLC it has to offer. The Golem character the DLC offers does not help at all (gotten me dead every single time I used him, even as a placeholder for only a turn) and it’s not worth paying for oculi (power-up gems in the game). The only thing worth paying is really the costume pack for Aurora, but even then it’s only for Aurora so treat your money wisely.