It all started with Rayman Origins, where Ubisoft first used their UbiArt Framework engine to make one of the most fun and visually impressive games of all time. Now after repeating the success with Rayman Legends, they took the engine in another direction into the world of RPG fantasy in Child of Light, which despite some dialogue and combat issues, plays and sounds as mesmerizing as it looks.
The story follows a young girl named Aurora, who is a princess somewhere in the 19th century who has fallen into a death-like sleep that transports her to the magical world of Lemuria. After making friends with a ball of floating light named Igniculus, she soon learns that the sun, moon and stars have vanished, and it’s up to her to recover them. Of course she won’t have to tackle this challenge alone or unarmed, as she soon finds an oversized sword and learns she can use light magic to fight against the many creatures that stand in her way. One of her most amazing abilities is the one to fly, which has her soaring through the air with dream-like movement. You’ll also help her make friends along the way, like the jester named Rubella who is on a quest to find her brother, a dwarf named Finn who had his friends turned into crows, a prison guard named Oengus and more. Armed with these weapons and allies, it’s up to you to help Aurora restore balance and peace to Lemuria.
The controls are just as wonderfully simple as the game looks. While not in combat, there are buttons to use/interact with objects, one to jump/fly, and you can move Igniculus around with the right analog stick (and also the touchpad on the PS4 controller). When you run into an enemy while exploring the world and solving puzzles, the game switches to a classic, turn-based RPG combat system. There’s a turn bar at the bottom of the screen that slides characters icons to the right to show who is next in line for an action, reminiscent of the classic Grandia games. Once a character’s icon reaches the very right, it is their turn to perform an action such as an attack, cast spells, or defend. Some pretty cool strategy comes into play as you can use Igniculus to glow and blind enemies, causing their icon to move slowly across the turn bar, giving you a chance to get in some more actions before your enemies. This comes in handy as you’ll come across tougher opponents who tend to speed up their turns and will try to interrupt you by attacking right when it’s your turn.
Though I know it’s all part of the “challenge”, this part of the combat system can get a little annoying / overwhelming for some, but you’ll feel good about yourself once you’ve overcome battles that seem one-sided at first. As with most RPG’s, when you level up, you also get points to place in your characters skill tree which unlocks more abilities, powers up their attacks, defenses and more. You’ll also come across element gems such as fire, water and lightning to add these to your attacks or defend against them. And there’s even a system for you to customize the powers and abilities for your weapons.
Now it’s time for me to address the elephant in the room, the graphics. To say they’re some of the most beautiful and mesmerizing I’ve ever seen in a game would be putting it mildly. More times than not I caught myself just standing there and looking at all details, from small things moving around in the back and foregrounds, to the amazing use of light and shadow, the game feels like you’re playing a living painting. The audio is just as amazing, as Cœur de Pirate’s wonderful soundtrack fits perfectly with the visuals, whether it’s just low, somber piano melodies, or folk-sounding strums on an acoustic guitar. There is a little bit of voice acting from the narrator, but the way the dialogue is always spoken or written in rhyme may annoy most (myself included), especially since it feels forced. And because of that, it sometimes comes off as silly, such as “There is no one here to see, this house is empty it appears to be”. It’s kind of cute at first, but quickly becomes tiresome and makes reading the text throughout the game a chore of sorts.
Dialogue and combat quirks aside, Child of Light is an amazing game that simply must be experienced by any gamer. From it’s amazing graphics and sounds, to the fun of being able to fly and float around a magical world is more than worth the price of admission ($15 is not bad at all). If you’re looking for something new and different to play, take a chance on this and visit the world of Lemuria. It is sure to brighten up both your mood and life.