2021 will be marked as the time of extremes. When next-gen hardware on one hand showcased graphically superior, complex AAA games, while on the other tried to please the indie-loving niche. 2014 will also be remembered as the year Ubisoft became a force to be reckoned with, a company that was brave enough to oppose the extremes and experiment with ‘mid-tier’ projects like Child of Light (and Valiant Hearts). As much as this effort is commendable, the game itself, not so much. It is a solid proof-of-concept but mixing simplistic platforming with sparse RPG elements doesn’t make for a fun game. It makes Child of Light look like RPG lite.
You play Aurora trying to find her Papa aided by Igniculus alongside a party that’s varied and amusing. The story is linear but explores exciting subjects of: familial longing, love, loss, betrayal, camaraderie, and friendship, via party members. The climax comes expected but the conclusion surprises. Based in Ubiart, the game looks stunningly colorful containing diverse locations from the standard ‘forest’ to the outrageous ‘golem interior’. Animations though scant look exceptional, although battle animations and attack effects could have used more flair.
The game plays two ways: A simplistic platformer to help navigate the heroine through Lemuria to avoid traps, collect treasure and find secrets. Though exploration is rewarded but it feels non-challenging and becomes tedious. The battle system is the second half of the games interactability. Combat takes the form of turn-based battles, which though seem complex, eventually starts feeling shallow, like the skill trees and the gems crafting system.
The biggest complaint is lack of voice acting during rhymes. Though they are well written, they are not fun to read and this design choice affects the game’s aesthetics more than the narrative. The overall score is grandiosely orchestrated though. I hope players see this game through till the end because the credits song is a stunner.
Child of Light is not essential ‘as a game’, but as a production. It cements the fact that AAAs and Indies are still challenged by such games that though light on content, are heavy on impact. It seems like an IP that is too artistically obtuse to be annualized, but one should try it just to anticipate what Ubisoft is thinking and to be a part of this games-changing movement.