Review: Child of Light (PS4)

child-of-light-mc-2014-review-banner

Title: Child of Light
Format: PlayStation Network Download (2.1 GB)
Release Date: April 30, 2014
Publisher: Ubisoft
Developer: Ubisoft Montreal
Original MSRP: $14.99
ESRB Rating: E
Child of Light is also available on PlayStation 3, Xbox One, Xbox 360, Wii U and PC.
The PlayStation 4 version was used for this review.
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy.

Golden Minecart Award Winner 2014:
– Best Newcomer (New IP: PS Vita)
– Best Newcomer (New IP: PS3 Download)
– Best Newcomer (New IP: PS4 Download)

One of the more controversial topics that video games like to cover is the afterlife. What does happen to us once we leave this physical world? Is there some place we go or does everything just go black? Do we wake up in another life, in another time? Do we wake up in a brightly lit white place? While we have experienced vastly different interpretations of that moment in everyone’s life, until now I have not found one that I have enjoyed – until Child of Light.

From the minds that brought us Far Cry 3, Child of Light is a beautifully created game in every aspect that dives into the topic of the afterlife. In this interpretation, you take part in a battle to rescue the sun and the moon while also trying to understand your existence in a strange new place.

childoflight-review6

Child of Light immediately reminded me of the countless, fantastic stories that my mom would read to me when I was a child. From the opening cinematic to the closing credits, one of the best things about Child of Light is how it is written. Using the iambic pentameter technique adds to the idea of a fairytale story.

I knew the ending of the game before getting five minutes in, but it still threw its beautiful hooks in me and never let go.

Gameplay:
Child of Light is one part Platformer and one part semi-JRPG, combining into a surprisingly fantastic game, except for one small detail.

You play as Aurora, a young girl who wakes up in a place that she doesn’t recognize, on top of a platform in a strange land. Along her journey to return to her home she will come across various characters that will join in her quest across a very color world.

While saying that Child of Light is a Platformer from Ubisoft which may conjure up ideas of the fast-paced, running and jumping movement mechanic Rayman Legends. Well if you thought that, you’d be wrong. For the first hour or so of the game Aurora runs around the world at a slow space, making her way towards her goal.

childoflight-review4

A weird, early game twist is when you are given a quicker way to travel around the world, allowing you to surpass all the enemies of an area and just fly straight to the end. While the increased travel speed is nice, it is pointless. You’re not just playing this game for the gameplay, you’re in it for the visuals as well. If you don’t take your time, you’ll miss out on Child of Light’s beauty.

Previously I said that Child of Light is a semi-JRPG because it misses a lot of the depth of gameplay mechanics and systems that all JRPGs have; oh, and it wasn’t made in Japan. While some people enjoy a complex battle system in their JRPGs, I found the simple one used in Child of Light great as it allows you to make it as complex as you want.

If you’re like me, I was a little surprised at how truly adept Aurora is in a battle. Yes, she has her friends there to get her back, but come on, she carries a sword bigger than herself! AND SHE IS JUST A CHILD! Where you would think a child would stay away from danger, she flies headfirst into fights and leads the party to victory.

Child of Light features a battle system that is built around timing. Both you and the enemy share spots on a timeline that will dictate when and how often you are able to attack or defend. Make sure to keep you eye on the bar at all times as it can mean your victory or defeat in battle.

Visuals:
Using the spectacular engine from the Rayman Legends games, Child of Light boasts a water-color effect that truly makes it feel like you are looking at a moving artistic masterpiece. Every single detail is beautifully realized and the overall final product is something that truly is amazing to look at, all the while giving it a very child-storybook-look. Colors slightly blend together, giving the whole world a dreamlike appearance.

childoflight-review1

The world that Aurora finds herself in is realized in great detail. All around her are signs of depression, of degradation. The world around her is being slowly sucked of life and the visual art style really hits home. Be it a forest that is being overrun with vines and weeds, or a town that is slowly falling apart; each location is semi-depressing to look at, but is so beautiful that you’ll want to be happy – a strange combination of feelings.

Besides the repeating enemy types with a different element thrown on them, each of the character models are unique and detailed in their own way. You’ll come across villages where the citizens are rat people, you’ll have a Jester join your party in your quest, you’ll converse with a massive talking mountain and many, many more with each of them looking entirely unique.

I’m going to make this jump already and we’re only in the beginning part of May; Child of Light will be hands-down the best looking game of 2014.

Audio:
Continuing Child of Light’s superb performance, the sounds you’ll be hearing throughout your time with the game are fantastic.

Right off the bat you’ll be introduced to the narrator of the game, an unnamed woman who will take you through the cutscenes. Her voice and the rhyming words that she speaks, again, adds to the feeling of a fantasy story. While hearing the woman speak is soothing and a treat, that will be the only voice you’ll actually hear in the game – none of the other characters talk, they only makes noises.

Secondly you’ll notice the background music. During the time when you are exploring the world and not in battle, the background music plays a sweet tune that lays a sense of calm all over you. It is a little strange to hear this soft, gentle music while exploring such a depressing looking world.

childoflight-review7

Once you enter into battle, the music changes from the sweet, slow tunes of the world to a harder, more intense beat. While the music in the fighting arenas is just as good as the music in the outside world, you’ll be less likely to realize it since you’ll be focusing on the battle at hand.

Online/Multiplayer:
Child of Light does feature a form of multiplayer, but it might not be what you expect. Throughout Aurora’s adventure she is accompanied by a small, blue firefly named Igniculus. While you are able to control him yourself when in single player, connecting another controller to the system will allow the second player to take control of him. He is able to aid you in battle and in finding loot throughout the world.

During battle he is able to heal your party by flying over them and lighting up, or slowing down the enemy by flying over them. The smart and strategic use of Igniculus is key to you success.

Conclusion:
Reviewing a game like Child of Light is really easy. With its great story, fantastic presentation, beautiful artwork, stunning music and fun gameplay, this is a wonderful game all around. Needless to say Child of Light has become one of the best games in my gaming library. PLAY IT!

Score:
9.5

* All screenshots used in this review were taken directly from the game using the Elgato Game Capture HD Pro screen capture feature.

Written by Kyle Jessee

Kyle Jessee

Your lone Kentucky writer on staff. Loves the Big Blue Nation, rock music, and Resistance 2 (the best in the series).

Twitter Digg Delicious Stumbleupon Technorati Facebook