Ubisoft’s “Child of Light” is immediately striking thanks to the ethereal beauty of its hand-painted art style. Exploring the fairy tale world of “Child of Light” and soaking in all of the sights is the greatest reward of the game, but thankfully that’s not all it has going for it, since the RPG gameplay is fairly solid. “Child of Light” centers on the young princess Aurora and her quest to return the stars, sun and moon to the world of Lemuria in order to vanquish the Queen of the Night and return home to her father in the real world. As Aurora explores Lemuria, she assembles a large group of companions that help her on her journey and she grows stronger by helping others.
The weakest element of “Child of Light” is the story itself. The main quest is basic fairy tale material that is difficult to care about due to the awkward dialogue that is always forced to rhyme. Despite generally stumbling over itself with the rhymed dialogue, “Child of Light” does manage to depict Aurora as a strong character and express the larger themes it tackles.
While the story may not be compelling, the world of Lemuria certainly is. The game makes strong use of color and shadows in addition to fantastic imagery to create a compelling world that feels fully realized. The piano-heavy soundtrack further establishes the relaxed and somewhat lonely feeling of most of the locations you visit. Whether I was exploring floating islands in the sky or the dilapidated monastery ruins in a forest, I was always excited to fly around each environment and discover all of its secrets.
Since “Child of Light” is mainly an RPG, I was surprised that there were a lot of navigation puzzles scattered throughout. Since Aurora can fly pretty much the entire game, most of the puzzles feel fresh to work through even if the ideas behind them are often simple.
Although I generally enjoyed navigating the world and solving puzzles more than the RPG gameplay, I still enjoyed the battles too. Combat is pretty simple on the surface as you pair up two of your party members together to fight a small group of foes. The combat is inspired by games like “Grandia,” where each character shares the same action gauge. You and your enemies can interrupt attacks if an attacker hits someone who is preparing to cast an attack. Knowing when to block is crucial so you can resituate yourself to attack multiple times and be interrupted less often.
The basic combat system is made more enjoyably complex when you factor in exploiting elemental weaknesses through spells and augmented equipment and also by controlling your firefly friend Igniculus. The blue firefly is useful in collecting supplies scattered around the battlefield, healing your allies and most importantly slowing down foes. While there are some good wrinkles to the battle system, the two-character party set up feels very limiting in terms of strategy. Battles seemed to drag on when I had to constantly swap out characters to deal the most damage. Since fights aren’t always fun, I actively avoided combat at times.
“Child of Light” isn’t one of the best RPGs out there due to a few problems with its story and combat, but it nevertheless is still very engaging. Exploring Lemuria and experiencing Aurora’s personal journey is reason enough to play “Child of Light.”
Recommended: “Child of Light” delivers an incredible world to explore and interesting enough RPG gameplay.