You play as Aurora, a young girl with long flowing locks of red hair. She is the daughter of a Duke of Austria in the year 1895. Her mother’s identity has remained a mystery to the young girl and the absence of a motherly figure has created an extremely strong relationship between her and her father. Although as time passed, her father grew lonely and eventually found the company of another woman. On the night of her father’s wedding, Aurora becomes ill and would not awaken. For all intents and purposes she is announced deceased.
Aurora awakens in the mysterious land of Lemuria. A strange world full of stranger monsters, where she is greeted by a new friend, Igniculus. Aurora eventually learns that Lemuria’s sun, moon and stars have been taken from the land by the mysterious Queen of the Night. It is then up to the small child to recover these divine figures in the hope of reuniting with her father.
Ubisoft Montreal has crafted Child of Light on the ever so popular UbiArt Framework Engine, the same engine that has re-invented and re-defined the Rayman series.
The use of this engine presents the player in a 2D side scrolling world, none the likes of which the world has seen before. Every piece of the game has been hand-drawn to an incredible amount of detail. The world will ignite your inner child’s nostalgic imagination of all the wonderful stories and fairytales you heard and dreamt of when you were younger. All of this occurs before the magnificent watercolours are delicately placed into the world.
Traversing from one side of Lemuria to the other, is like bearing witness to an evolving and growing children’s book. It’s incredibly soothing and calming to the soul and leaves you in a state of awe. Accompanying the humble visuals is a restful, yet engaging string ensemble with a masterful pianist performance keeping the rhythm and the flow to this enchanting soundtrack.
I mentioned that Child of Light is reminiscent to that of a children’s book, and keeping to the nature of that, the game has an exceptional narrator delivering outstanding guidance and background to the elements of the game. Keeping in tune of the children’s theme is the way that the dialogue has been fashioned to speak only in rhymes. If more voice actors were cast I feel it would have enriched the experience, although in saying that I understand the design choice as story books are read, not heard. It is a wonderful design choice as time and time again I found myself chuckling at the entirely predictable outcome of a conversation in regards to the rhymes. Some particular characters even take it as far as to correct other characters who do not speak in rhymes.
I have already mentioned the word ‘child’ a few times in this article. Don’t naively let that fool you into thinking that this is a children’s game. At it’s core, Child of Light is essentially a turn-based RPG, with all the item collecting, experience gaining and levelling up that goes with the genre.
Very early you are introduced to Igniculus, a rain drop looking fire fly. Igniculus can be controlled by you at the same time as you control Aurora or separately by a local co-op friend. Igniculus is invaluable to your quest, lighting dark treacherous paths, gathering the fuels for your health and magic but most importantly, his battle aids are vital to your success.
Once a battle is engaged, you are able to attack based on your speed and how long it takes to complete your chosen actions. The game makes use of an Active Time Battle System, popular to the genre; taking skill and finesse to manage your health and magic as you wait for the right time to strike with your attack. Evading your opposition’s attack is obviously one of the best strategies to survive, but to use Igniculus to your advantage is sheer brilliance. Utilising the second (or single) player firefly you can shine a light over your opponent as they strike to ‘blind’ them which may result in a miss, resetting their action timer. Not only is attack offered, but healing is also an option from Igniculus and various other party members who join you along your quest.