Saturday, 3 May 2014

Child of Light

Child of Light is a product of the countless impressive indie titles that we've seen over the past few years. Titles such as Limbo and Braid have shook off the shackles of what is generally expected from an “indie” title, and have delivered experiences that, for the most part, surpass their triple A counterparts. But Child of Light isn't really an indie title; it’s brought to us by the same team that crafted Far Cry 3. However, Child of Light just may be the best and first triple A indie title thus far.

Developed by Ubisoft Montreal and out now on multiple platforms is Child of Light, one of the most beautiful and, at the same time, most ambitious and unambitious games of all time. The game is set in the year 1895 in Austria, and focuses on a little girl named Aurora, whom you'll be controlling throughout Child of Light. After Aurora contracts some kind of disease that causes her to fall asleep, she finds herself in the gorgeous, magical and dangerous world of Lemuria. In this realm the sun, moon and stars have been stolen by the Black Queen, the games antagonist. To get home Aurora must reclaim what the Black Queen has stolen from Lemuria, but there's more going on here than meets the eye.

Child of Light is both a platforming game and a turn-based RPG, which is pretty much the best mash-up of genres ever. Made as a love letter to the classic Japanese RPGs of yesteryear, Child of Light is quite straightforward in its approach. Gameplay generally comes in three different phases; exploration, interaction and battling. The world on offer here is staggeringly beautiful and lavishly designed, and roaming through it and interacting with its many, many inhabitants is both interesting and immersive. From strolling around the various peaceful towns dotted throughout Lemuria, to investigating the enemy filled caves and caverns that Aurora will need to brave, even before battling Child of Light keeps the players attention through its atmospheric world. 

Battling has literally been plucked from the pages of Final Fantasy, both in terms of its execution and when levelling up. The turn-based battles on offer here are quite straightforward and rudimentary, but ultimately work wonderfully well. It's accessible, fun and, if tinkered with enough, deep and rewarding. It doesn't do anything new really, but what it does it does well. Still, it would have been nice to see some true innovation here, as while Child of Light is certainly not mutton dressed as lamb, its an undoubtedly linear experience at its heart.

Child of Light is perfection when it comes to looks though. From the background and character designs that appear as if they are fluid, moving and dynamic paintings, to the fantastically lively animations, Ubisoft Montreal have delivered an absolutely stunning looking title here. This extends to the music too, with the soundtrack being a moving composition by Cœur de pirate. The music, voice acting and overall visual charm of Child of Light breaths life into the characters that inhabit it.

When creating Child of Light, writer Jeffrey Yohalem said the aim was to create a “playable poem”. Ubisoft Montreal have succeeded, yet while Child of Light is a true wonder to behold and experience, beyond looking and sounding fancy it technically doesn't do anything new. Don't get me wrong, Child of Light is quite literally near the pinnacle in the looks department, and it is indeed like interacting with a moving, uplifting and sombre poem, but it's not ground breaking. 

Child of Light is light on innovation but heavy on inspiration and gets a 4/5.


Denis Murphy

Child of Light at CeX

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