Hey gang, Valkor here. I’m switching gears over towards GameView, bringing back into the Val-Cave Ubisoft, who impressed the bajeebies out of me with their current hit “South Park: The Stick of Truth”. This next title, Child of Light, has a similar play mechanic and not a lot of jokes or grotesque humor. But a game this classy doesn't need all that. And after a thorough play thru of this imaginative 2D RPG, it looks as though 2014 will be the year Ubisoft will reign supreme.
In Child of Light you’ll play as Aurora, who has fallen ill and placed into a deep sleep. She awakens in the land of Lemuria, where the sun, moon and stars have been taken. And now with her trusty little firefly named Igniculus, they’ll traipse the land not only solving the mystery of the missing celestial bodies, but also lending a helping hand to the people of Lemuria as well, some who will aid her in her quest. Ultimately, Aurora wants to get home to see her father, but in order to do that she'll need to solve the mysteries of the land. Things start out kind of slow as Aurora is delegated to simply walking, but very soon after her arrival she’s given the gift of flight, which will help progress through your adventure quicker. You'll also get a little sidekick namedIgniculus, who acts as you’re shining guide; he'll tag along behind you or you can control him either with the second analog stick or hook up a second controller and let another player handle the little guy. Igniculus may not look like much but the dude really comes in handy; for starters he can open certain gems and boxes, collect glowing orbs that may be too close to enemies or some sort hazard (great if you want to avoid a fight or stay out of harms way), he can heal you or he can light himself up, blinding an enemy so you can safely pass. Also to help you out are many chest strew about that will give you health provisions or gems. Gems can attach to your weapons and clothing, increasing their strength as well as adding or increasing attributes. These gems can also be combined making them even stronger thus adding to the strength of your characters. Finally, you're not alone on your mission to save Lemuria, as a host of characters will come to your aid and fight alongside you, each with his or her own story to tell - they're not simply joining you for the sake of the quest as they have their own goals to achieve.
The game is 2D platforming mixed with turn-based battles and some puzzle solving. Enemy battles aren’t random as they’re on the field of play and approaching them will set things off. Enemies can also initiate battle by either charging at you or pegging you from a distance. Thankfully you can bypass them by simply flying over them or using Igniculus. But should you initiate, then prepapre to go toe to toe with up to threee enemies - solo at first, but soon other members will join. And battles involve two players only, eventhough your party will increase (think South Park: The Stick of Truth). And just like the aforementioned title, you can swap out any character with another member from your party, should you need their abilities. Personally, I dig the combo of Finn and Ruebella, who are an excellent combination of strength and magic.
Child of Light features a unique active battle system that requires your full attention. At the bottom of the screen is a bar with a big blue area for “wait” (how long before your character will cast an attack) and a small red area for “cast” (when they’ll actually attack). Intermixed are icons that represent your characters as well as the enemies you’re about to face and it becomes something of a race to see who will reach the cast area first. Once you reach the line between wait and cast is when you can select your move, then it’s onto the cast area. If both enemy and player reach the cast area around the same time, then whoever reaches the very end can attack as well as interrupt the other player, sending their icon back into the waiting area to try and cast again. Igniculus really comes in handy here as his blinding ability slows down an enemy causing them to “wait” longer, allowing you to move in and strike, especially when an enemy icon is in the lead. It took me some time to get used to this mode of play, but eventually I not only got the hang of it but I was also able to work it where I would get an enemy in the cast area, shoot forward to get the drop on them and send them back to the wait area numerous times, making it so they can barely get an attack in.
Child of Light is available on multiple console and PC platforms and the one I’ve been given the chance to play is on the PS4. Ubisoft should consider giving this title the handheld treatment as the visuals would be well represented on the Vita. Scratch that, it is coming to the Vita - in July. OK, I think this one is worth waiting for.
Child of Light is a story book come to interactive life, reminiscent of Wizard of Oz; for instance the object that links Aurora to Lemuria is her crown (like Dorothy’s shoes) and she meets a variety of characters who all have reason to want to tag along on her quest. Hell there’s even an evil witch (something like the stepmother in Cinderella). The plot is basic, predictable with a few twists here and there, but very easy to follow and also quite engaging. Graphically, Child of Light is the most gorgeous game I’ve laid eyes on in quite while, with watercolor graphics similar to that of Bravely Default with loads of animation in the back and foregrounds – the attention to detail is superb. Anywhere you go, there’s something that will appeal to your visual senses. On top of that, the animation on Aurora is breathtaking; the way her hair trails behind her as she moves, the fluid animation in her movements, and as an added bonus, I love the way she looks around at her surroundings. With great animation comes great gameplay as Aurora controls flawlessly. Kudos for giving her flight early in the game – if she could do barrel rolls and such, it would be almost exactly like Nights: Into Dreams. The battle system deserves accolades, though I have a tiny issue with it (next section), ultimately it works and it works quite well. Being able to interrupt an enemy before they can attack is certainly unique and it definitely keeps you on your toes. Finally the music in this game is stellar; it’s a bit moody, but it picks up during the battle sequences. In the end, once I got into it, I found Child of Light one tough cookie to put down.
My only slight issue with the title is with the battle system - it gets a little too chaotic when dealing with multiple enemies of three. Not necessarily a bad thing, again it keeps you on your toes. But it’s harder to gain that edge when you’re getting trounced on. And just when you get close to making your move - POW! You get interrupted and sent back to the wait area. Patience – ya needs lots of it.
Child of Light is available now and it deserves all the accolades it gets; the game is imaginative, beautiful and enjoyable. That game of the year list just keeps growing and titles like this one make it hard to choose. Interested? Child of Light is available on PC, PS3, PS4, PSN, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Xbox Live and the Wii-U. And out of TOV 5 stars, Child of Light gets a 4.5.