Review: Child of Light
Child of Light is the newest game from Ubisoft whom I know from the Assassin’s Creed games, mostly. I’ve discovered they also make Trials, which is one of the most-played games in my household. I’m not a fan myself, but everyone else seems to love it. Something about the ridiculous crashing animations I think.
I picked up Child of Light mainly because it has a female heroine and I wanted to see what they’d done with her. I’m not normally a fan of turn-based RPG. I find them tedious and needlessly complicated most of the time. I prefer a good “sword to the face” type of game. I had low expectations going into CoL as a result. I also bought it because I just got a PS4 and I didn’t have any games for it yet.
I sometimes wonder if it’s a universal rule that low expectations lead to being pleasantly surprised. Michael Bay films aside, I often find this is the case and CoL was no exception. It is a hard game to describe–part platformer, part turn-based, part storybook, it’s got a beauty to it that isn’t marred by over-complicated game play (I’m looking at you, Braid). It has the kind of flat animation style of a lot of the cheaper, downloadable games from the XBox Arcade and Steam but it is lush and pretty to look at.
The story line is delightful and in no way annoying to my feminism which is refreshing. The princess heroine of the tale is a true heroine, saving the world instead of a boy (and more importantly, instead of being saved by anyone). She’s worried about her family, but not in a way that keeps her from moving forward. Basically, a little girl wakes up in a strange world and quickly becomes acclimated, learning to fight the dark and discovering whom she can trust and whom she can’t. She’s tasked with bringing back the light, and over time discovers an evil queen causing all the difficulty. There’s a loose Sleeping Beauty feel to it (the heroine’s name is Aurora and she falls asleep in one world to wake up in another) but it doesn’t rely heavily on that story. There’s not much to it, maybe 15 hours total, but there are a few side quests to keep you busy.
The usual RPG elements apply: party members, skill points, a bit of crafting and tactics management. The turn-based element of combat is the most fun iteration I’ve ever played. There’s a real time aspect that allows you to engage with the combat even when it’s turn by turn–you get chances to slow down opponents or heal friendlies while their turns run. The mechanic is engaging and interesting, something I can rarely say about this type of game.
The platforming aspect is complex and multidimensional, forcing the player to use some creative thinking but never making you so frustrated you want to throw a controller. There are like 100000 hidden chests, and I have probably found about two thirds of them in each area. This kind of thing makes me very happy in video games–little surprises and puzzles that lead you to awesome loot (in this case, usually crafting supplies or potions. No gear management, thank heavens).
In all, this game packs a ton of fun into a 15 dollar price tag. I am forever in search of games to keep me occupied until Dragon Age: Inquisition comes out, and this one was a nice way to spend a weekend. You can find Child of Light on Steam, Xbox, and Playstation.
(all images were screenshots from my own game, and can we just take a moment to be amazed by the Playstation 4’s awesome streaming and screenshot functions? LOVE.)