Come my friends, let me ask for your time,
To tell of a game, told completely in rhyme.
Do not worry, my review will not follow suit.
But let me tell you, Child of Light is very cute.
So maybe “poet” shouldn’t be on my list of career aspirations, but I can’t help but be inspired by the latest offering from Ubisoft Montreal, Child of Light. Built with the UbiArt framework — the same software that powers the recent Rayman games — the story follows Aurora, the daughter of a duke who falls asleep one night only to awake in the strange world of Lumeria. As she hopes to be reunited with her father, who we are told believes that his daughter is dead, she stumbles into a journey much bigger than she initially realized.
Lumeria is essentially a fairytale land, inhabited by magic and mythical creatures. However, the world is currently under the power of the Dark Queen, Umbra, who has stolen the sun, moon, and stars, and Aurora quickly learns that she has been tasked with returning them. Along the way, she meets up with the various citizens of Lemuria, each with their own dreams and ambitions that they want to accomplish.
Aurora’s first companion is the firefly Igniculus, who is able to trigger different platforming elements and pick up “wishes,” which restore health and magic. His ability to glow is used to activate switches, unlock special boxes, and light the way through dark areas. He can even blind enemies, so you can get behind them to guarantee you’ll be able to get a first strike.
The combat in Child of Light is the game’s crowning jewel. The battles are time-based, a battle system which will be familiar to Final Fantasy fans. The interface makes it really easy to understand who is going next, with enemies and allies easily divided on the combat meter. The meter is divided into two sections: wait and cast. When a character reaches the divider between the two sections, they can choose their action for that turn. Different attacks and spells will take different amounts of time to cast, which may allow another character to beat you to the attack. Being attacked while casting will interrupt the spell, setting a character back about halfway through the timeline to wait for their turn again.
Only two party members can fight at a given time, but you can switch them out on the fly to best suit each battle situation. Most enemies are based on fire, water and earth, meaning that choosing the right pairing for a battle can be extremely helpful. While being able to take advantage of elemental strengths and weaknesses can be useful, even more important is the ability to manipulate turn order and casting times. Some characters are able to speed up allies or slow down enemies, which can make it easier interrupt spells being cast and set enemies back on the timeline.
Igniculus can also help, as he can glow to slow enemies down or by healing allies. His glowing ability has a limited meter, which he can refill by grabbing wishes from the battle area. These will eventually restock during long battles, but don’t expect to depend on them. Thankfully, as you travel through Lemuria, there will be plenty of opportunities to restock your items for healing, mana, and other useful potions. You can also collect gems called Occuli, which can be combined to create more powerful stones. Equipping these stones will gives characters bonuses in defense and offense, such as bonus elemental damage on basic attacks or speed boosts.
Outside of combat, traversing Lemuria is a delight. Aurora is quickly gifted the ability to fly, which makes her able to move around quickly and avoid fights you may not want to deal with at the moment. Getting to the next area, or digging through side missions may involve a few simple puzzles, but these puzzles are generally refreshing, giving a short break from what could have quickly become a grind.
Even the world of Lemuria is inviting, despite the undertones involving death and loss linked into the story. The art style is almost watercolor, and during dialogue we get a chance to see the major characters up close and in beautiful detail. As Aurora flies across the screen, it’s a smooth, graceful feeling, and the music of the game just adds to the atmosphere. Composer Coeur de Pirate’s soundtrack starts with simple piano melodies which grow into an expansive, epic orchestral sound.
Child of Light tries to take on the feeling of fairy tales and epic fantasy. The game has a storybook feeling, but players will find so much more depth inside. The deep combat system keeps the game engaging and exciting, and the world it is built around makes the experience of playing just as rewarding.
Now that’s all that I have, I can do no better,
So now I must leave you with a single letter.