Developer(s) – Ubisoft Montreal, Ubisoft Bucharest, Ubisoft Ukraine & Ubisoft Massive
Publisher – Ubisoft
Director – Patrick Plourde
Producer – Jeffrey Yohalem
PEGI – 7
Much like Ubisoft’s previous effort, South Park: The Stick of Truth, Child of Light is a turn-based RPG, but developed using the same engine as what was used to develop the most recent batch of Rayman games. But in my opinion, this game is superior to South Park in many different ways.
Graphics – 10/10
The world of Lemuria is one of the most exquisitely beautiful and unique video game worlds ever designed in my opinion. As one of the most conceptually compelling games I’ve seen for some time, it presents players with something particularly memorable in its scenery, visual style, and impressive enemy roster reminiscent of that of classic Final Fantasy installments. I could argue the case that the character sprites may seem inconsistent with some rendered in 3D while most have been rendered 2D, but to me, that’s splitting hairs No matter what dimension the characters have been rendered in, they have all been designed spectacularly. The visuals are also accompanied by an extremely impressive and atmospheric soundtrack too.
Gameplay – 8.5/10
When I first saw footage of this game about 3 months ago, I expected that it would probably be no more than a simple 2D side-scrolling adventure game; so imagine my surprise and delight when I discovered it to be a turn-based RPG as well as that. It’s an extremely addictive and fun game to play overall, complete with side quests and a great presence of variety. But unlike South Park: The Stick of Truth, there is much more call for character alteration. I personally found that South Park, whilst packed with variety, could be played using a regular set of characters virtually from start to finish. But with Child of Light, the heightened presence of strategy greatly necessitates the constant switching between characters, and therefore providing a much more variable experience overall. On top of that, Lemuria is also a much bigger in-game world than South Park.
Controls – 10/10
Whilst it was to be expected that there would be no problems with the controls (the turn-based RPG formula having been long since perfected), this game adds some pretty unique mechanics to the formula through the timeline system reminiscent of the Attack Time Bar system found in previous games in the genre, and the mechanic of flying across each screen to encourage exploration.
Lifespan – 2/10
The main downside to this game that it lasts for an even shorter time than South Park: The Stick of Truth. 14 hours was bad enough for a turn-based RPG in my opinion, but Child of Light can only be made to last for perhaps 8 hours at most. If Ubisoft, or any other games developer for that matter, truly want to make a much greater game in this genre, they have to develop it to last much longer, in my opinion. As I stated in my review of South Park: The Stick of Truth, games like this can normally be made to last from 80 to 100 hours; and both South Park and Child of Light fall criminally short of that.
Storyline – 8.5/10
The story of Child Light follows a young girl named Aurora from 1985 Austria, who contracts an illness, which causes her to fall into a prolonged sleep. She wakes up to find herself in the world of Lemuria, which has had its sun, moon, and stars stolen by the Black Queen. It’s Aurora’s job, with the help of several allies, to recover these celestial bodies and reunite with her father in her own world. The story is very reminiscent of both Sleeping Beauty and many films in the Studio Ghibli library, such as Kiki’s Delivery Service and Spirited Away, in that it features a young girl coming of age and learning to survive in the world. The dialogue in the story is structured through rhyme, making the story essentially feel like an extremely long poem, which is very original for a video game. There are times when the poetry is somewhat hit and miss, but for the most part, it adds positively to this extremely artistically driven game. While it may not be as funny as South Park, it certainly has a lot more artistic value attached to it in every way.
Originality – 9/10
To call this game unique is an understatement. It has uniqueness attached to it in every aspect, from the stunning, hand-painted visuals, the greatly necessary variety in gameplay, and the intricate and wonderful story. Influence for this title can be very easily identified, but all its influences have had an extremely positive effect and allowed for the making of a very different and gripping experience.
Overall, Child of Light is an artistic tour de force of a video game, with great gameplay, great visuals, and a great story. I think if it were to have been made to last a whole lot longer, then it would have been a much greater force to be reckoned with. But regardless, this game is, to me, one of the standout titles of 2014.