I am going to say this right now: I don’t think it is a bit much to ask developers to give us some variety and change when it comes to the games they are developing. With this new console generation finally starting up, we need to push the idea that we can have a varied gaming experience with a game, big or small. I know there have been studies saying that gamers don’t know what they want, but I find that statement snobbish, and anyone that says it makes them sound like condescending jerks. Variety is the spice of life, and the gaming industry needs to know that there are more kinds of games than Clash of Clans, Candy Crush Saga, and Call of Duty. That is why companies need to actually listen to what gamers want, or observe the indie scene to see what is going on, since the downloadable side of gaming is the only way, so far, to get some variety when it comes to gaming. With today’s review of Child of Light, Ubisoft is showing us why variety is nice. This is one of the best looking games around, and is one of the best RPGs that I have played this year. Why not jump on into this beautiful watercolor world, and see what makes this game so great?
You play as a princess known as Aurora. Due to an illness, she is put into a deep slumber and wakes up in this brand new world known as Lemuria. As she tries to find her way back into her old world, she runs into multiple characters who tell her that the world of Lemuria has been taken over by an evil being known as the Queen of the Night. With the help of a memorable cast of characters, Aurora makes it her job to save the world of Lemuria, and find her way back to her own kingdom. The story is very well put together. It’s dark, complex, but it can also be light-hearted and funny at times. The cast of characters that join you on your way to saving the land are, like I said, very memorable. The story is also unique. It is spoken in rhyme, which I give the writing team credit for doing, since I would find it very hard to do an entire story in rhyme. Either way, you won’t get bored with the story after the 12 hours it takes you to beat the game.
Child of Light is a 2D turn-based RPG. If you have played any game in the main Grandia franchise, then you have played Child of Light’s combat system. While your characters will not move in a static battleground, the little action bar at the bottom of the screen will show you what the waiting time for one of your character or enemy’s turn are, and at the end of the bar is the casting meter. The casting meter will either speed up or slow down your character’s actions, depending on what move you choose, whether it be a simple melee attack or a powerful magic attack. While the combat might seem like it is nothing special, there is some depth to the combat. Just like in Grandia, if you can get your attack in first inside that casting part of the meter before your enemies pull off their moves, you can interrupt them so they have to take more time to execute another move. Of course, enemies and your own characters will have spells to speed up the process of getting more turns in, so there must be some way to slow down the enemies on the meter. Oh wait, there is!
In the game, you get a little firefly character named Igniculus. During battle, you can use Igniculus to shine brightly over an enemy which will cause their turn in the meter to slow down, which can lead you to get your turn and attack faster. Igniculus can also heal you and your allies on and off the battlefield. However, Igniculus runs on his own meter, and the meter will drain if you keep using his abilities. This leads to a lot of complex strategies, including what party member to have in each fight, and which enemy to stun first so you can wail on him before the enemy does the same to you. Oh, and if you didn’t know or haven’t seen from the trailers shown of the game, the enemies are visible in the overworld, which means no random battles. You can also run into an enemy from behind to get an advantage in battle. Igniculus can also stun enemies in the overworld and open certain chests. Leveling and progression-wise, you have stones that you can equip to characters that can give them benefits, like more health, water damage, magic resistance, and so on. There are also side quests for you to go on, such as getting rid of a certain number of enemies in some guy’s basement or finding a lump of gold for some market person. The overall game will take you about 10-12 hours to complete.
One of the biggest highlights of the game is the drop dead beautiful graphics. This watercolor approach gives the game a unique look, and it reminds me of games that were made by Vanillaware. The music is also beautifully orchestrated. It is composed by Béatrice Martin, or as she is known by her stage name, Cœur de Pirate, a well-known Canadian singer/songwriter. The soundtrack is filled with elegant sounds and more threatening compositions when underground. It is one of the best soundtracks of this year. The animation of the characters and enemies is also well done. It helps that they add little details like the main character having some slight balancing issues lifting her sword when she is attacking. There is no voice acting in the game besides the narrator, but you get a feel of the characters’ personalities in the dialogue.
There are only a few issues that this game has to offer, and they are mostly minor. I have seen that people say that it is too easy to run into enemies in the overworld and dungeons, but I disagree with that statement. You have to take your time flying through the levels, since if you just go at top speed all the time, then you are going to run into enemies. Now, the one criticism I will agree with is that there is very little customization in the game. You only get to equip certain stones to your characters, and that is it. This means that you won’t be finding stronger weapons or sturdier armor as you travel around the game’s world. It doesn’t help that the leveling tree that you use doesn’t feel all too effective. Sometimes you can feel your character becoming stronger due to the leveling tree, but it isn’t too noticeable. I also think they could have had some voice acting in the game. They wouldn’t have to be big-time Hollywood actors, but they could have gotten actors like Tara Strong or someone to portray the characters.
Final Verdict: One of the best RPGs of 2014!
Even with their questionable business decisions, like the delay of Rayman Legends and the yearly release of Assassin’s Creed, Ubisoft is still giving gamers a unique gaming experience. I mean, last year they had Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon, which was different for a FPS, and this year they have Child of Light and Valiant Hearts: The Great War. I would highly recommend getting Child of Light for PC, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Xbox 360, or your Wii U. It is $15, but a 12-hour RPG is well worth the money. I was surprised to see Ubisoft work on a RPG out of all the genres they usually invest money into. I am glad they made this game, and I hope they make more interesting experiences down the line.