Part poem, part water-colour painting, part fairy-tale, part orchestral ministration Child of Light is art wrapped up in a relatively easy Japanese style role playing game.
Aurora is dead to the world, contracting a mysterious sickness she falls asleep and for all intents and purposes is gone from her Duke father. Set in late 19th century Austria, Child of light is a fairy tale of Aurora’s slip into an alternate reality of bizarre creature enemies and equally bizarre friends as she attempts to re-join her Father in the real world.
“Videogames invite players to be immersed in virtual worlds and no one is better to create immersive and magical experiences than the artists of the Cirque du Soleil,” said Creative Director Patrick Plourde. “So to be able to collaborate with them to achieve Child of Light’s ambition to create a playable poem was a dream come true.”
Visually Child Of Light (Played on Xbox One for review) is stunning, the animated water-colour paintings that make up the landscape are both eerie and beautiful. However it is the rich ambient score that combines sorrow and lilt in equal measure that really lifts this release into an emotional artistic realm.
The animation of Aurora as she glides through the environment flows with the winds and currents of the magical world. Searching for quest locations, hidden chests and the odd random battle Aurora will also need to solve occasional standard platform and light based (utilising here her firefly sprite friend Ignatious) puzzles along the way.
At the core, Aurora’s journey is a relatively straight forward JRPG combined with the straight forward platform challenges. It is very approachable for Western audiences that may get flummoxed by the sometimes inaccessibility of typical JRPGs.
Through her travels around the land Aurora will meet up with many varied characters, those that join her ‘party’ will be utilised during battles.
Veteran players will want to turn the difficulty up to Hard for the Normal level provides little challenge as each battle plays out against one or multiple foes. The mechanics are interesting, with a timeline containing character icons that traverse left to right at the speed characteristic of the character. Some are slower than others, and occasionally one team will ambush the other giving a time advantage.
At the right side of the timeline is a small section called ‘cast, once an icon reaches here time halts. For player controlled characters it is time to use a skill or spell. Some actions take longer than others, if the character gets attacked whilst casting, the action is interrupted. So strategy dictates the choice of action, as do resources available.
The battle system adds a great deal of depth with addition of Ignatious, this firefly can be controlled by a second player or the right thumb stick. His abilities can be used at any time, to heal player’s characters, or slow down the enemies time lines.
It is an elegant and layered strategic approach to the RPG battle theme. We have seen this before in other games, but Child of Lights implementation is fabulous.
The battle system is deep yet simple enough to warrant experimentation and exploitation. The setting is magically and exquisitely rendered with emotion and beauty, and it is only really the text dialogue that can become a bit taxing during the journey.
For fans of JRPGs with a Western accessibility it is impossible to overlook this game.