Yet another object lesson in gaming as an art form, Ubisoft‘s 2D playable fairytale Child of Light more than merits its place as runner-up in your Game of the Year 2014 poll, bagging a tidy 21% of the vote.
Child of Light is a 2D puzzle and adventure-based RPG developed and published by Ubisoft Montreal, and what has been described as a ‘love letter’ to the JRPG genre is rather unsurprisingly in a very lofty position in your Game of the Year 2014 standings.
Releasing on both the current and the last generations of consoles and PC, Child of Light centres on the trials and tribulations of Aurora, the daughter of a Duke in Austria in the year 1895. Aurora sadly becomes ill and passes away, only to then find herself in the mythical world of Lemuria, a world that has had its sun, moon and stars stolen by the evil Black Queen.
Tasked with defeating the Black Queen, Aurora can then return back to the real world and be reunited with her father. Pretty deep, emotional stuff then; Child of Light has a beautifully elegant and deep design that remains consistent at all levels of the game. Lemuria is presented in a unique, watercolour-esque art style created by Ubisoft’s UbiArt Framework engine collaboratively alongside the hugely talented Japanese illustrator and character designer Yoshitaka Amano.
Child of Light isn’t just a pretty face however, the blend of traditional RPG turn-based combat with real-time action, platforming sequences and puzzles are balanced well. The combat manages to maintain a sense of depth with expansive skill trees to upgrade Aurora’s attacks and abilities; there are 216 skills to unlock in total, with 600 crafting combinations.
The importance of exploring Lemuria has been emphasised as you are able to access the flying mechanic early on in the game. From the outset you’ll be exploring Ubisoft’s stunningly conceived world and searching out mini-boss encounters, side-quests and collectibles.
The depth and diversity of the gameplay is important; the game will probably only set you back around 12 hours. But Child of Light resists the urge to bombard you with endless padding and busy work, all while providing you with an entertaining and varied experience to compliment the emotive narrative.
In fact, Child of Light’s plot is also unique to many games we see in the RPG genre at the moment: the story is actually good. We are immediately invested wholeheartedly in Aurora’s journey, as we see a scared, sickly child transform into a confident hero. Like the similarly exceptional Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch from Level-5 and Studio Ghibli, we are allowed access to a child dealing with the very worst parts of life and coming to terms with things by turning them into an adventure.
Perhaps not all of Child of Light’s elements hit all of Ubisoft Montreal’s desired arty notes—almost all of the dialogue is in iambic pentameter in an ABCB rhyme scheme, which is admirable, but can feel a little forced—and the gameplay will be familiar to most RPG players, but the overall experience is exceptional, and a worthy winner of your Game of the Year 2014 silver medal.
Online Games and Tech Editor
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