There once was a Duke whose wife died, leaving him to raise their red-headed daughter, Aurora. Soon after he married a second time, Aurora became cold as winter one night, then died, leaving the bereaved Duke behind, bedridden and married to a sinister wife.
Then Aurora awakens in a strange land called Lemuria. The Queen of Light once ruled the land in glory and delight until the day she disappeared. Then the Queen of Dark became the ruler, sending her daughters to steel the sun, the stars, and the moon, thus casting the world into darkness. Here Aurora and her companion firefly, Igniculus, must defeat the Queen of Dark by gathering the stolen lights of the heavens, and steal the Queen’s mirror which bridges the gap between the two worlds.
Child of Light might seem to have a simplistic storyline, but the game is intended to look like a picture book, one that lets the princess smack monsters around with swords. The fairy tale simplicity is by design, complete with dialog delivered in rhymes, but it hides a more intense game underneath.
Gameplay is a hybrid platformer/JRPG with a unique turn based system with built-in waits between actions that can be interrupted. Clever use of Igniculus’ shine can slow down enemies, letting the player pull powerful combo attacks off before the monsters can react.
As is usual in JRPGs, experience in battle levels up the character’s stats, but learning new moves is done through a skill tree. Unlocking greater and better spells requires accumulating skill points—one awarded per level—which gives the player a choice between racing up one of three skill branches quickly, or progressing a little over all three by spreading out the skill points.
The player can be forgiven for forgetting to dip into Options to manage their skills. The art in Child of Light is strange and beautiful, setting it apart from other games I have played. I found the experience immersive. The watercolors serve to give the story a picture book feel, yet the art is also sophisticatedly ethereal and fantastic. Ubisoft may have been going for a JRPG-inspired game, but the gorgeous backgrounds and fairyland themes give the game a distinctive European flavor.
The story unfolds at a good pace, introducing more characters to Aurora’s team. Each character has a distinct personality which is quite a feat considering all dialog is given in rhyme. Slowly, Aurora learns more about Lemuria and her own world, while acquiring skills to defeat stronger and stronger adversaries. The game opens wide once she learns to fly. In fact, this is one of the more delightful aspects of Child of Light for me.
There are also side quests to pursue that don’t distract from the story. They unlock new areas to explore, as well as new characters. Eventually, the tale wraps up with an epic battle between Aurora and the Queen of Dark and her daughters. Players who skipped battles in a rush to complete the game will find themselves unable to defeat these evil ladies.
More experienced gamers may enjoy the oculi system that lets you start combine gems to great new and more powerful combinations that can then be used to boost attack, defense, and magic. Building the rarer oculi requires a great deal of resources, so be prepared to battle a lot of enemies. Oculi are awarded in battle and found in treasure chests.
The game rewards players for exploring, letting them find hidden treasure chests throughout the game. There are also hidden confessions, or letters, hiding throughout the game that reveal more back story through an epic poem, as well as a series of letters that detail a girl named Sophie’s travels in Lemuria as she searched for a fellow traveler. None of these extras are necessary for completing the game, but they add to its over all value.
Child of Light is a wonderful JRPG that will give a player fifteen to twenty hours of enjoyment. It is simple enough for novice players, but offers enough customization to please and challenge advance players. There are a few DLC packs for purchase to add to the game, mostly of oculi bundles, but one is a new side quest and character. Fans of fairytales will especially want to search this game out. It’s available on .
Violence: 3 (cartoon violence, death, swordplay)