Child of Light – As We Play

Format – PlayStation 4

As is becoming a trend; I must begin this As We Play with a confession – I do not know anything about turn-based RPGs. I’ve never liked Final Fantasy, Ni No Kuni remains sealed on my shelf for a day that may never arrive, and going into Child of Light I have no idea how it is going to turn out. If you are after an in-depth analysis of the RPG elements of the title, I recommend you go elsewhere.Still here? Excellent, because this game is absolutely bloody gorgeous. This is, without any doubt in my mind, one of the most beautiful games I’ve ever played. Every element, from the menus, to dialogue, to the combat and beyond, is expertly crafted in this wonderful ink drawn art style. Combined with the harmonic melodies that accompany it, this made me fall in love with the title before I even needed to pick up a controller. As such, I will include as many (enlargeable) screenshots as I possibly can in this AWP. It was so pretty I had to Instagram it – that’s how utterly magnificent this game’s visuals are.

The main plot appears to be that you are a Princess of some description, named Aurora (I see what you did there, developers), who has fallen into the dream/fantasy kingdom of Lemuria that is being overrun by darkness and evil creatures. Classic plot, with an awe-inspiring universe – sold.Everybody seems to talk in limerick, whether it’s during a cutscene or in-game dialogue/hints. It’s well done, adds to the tone of the game, and brought on quite a few giggles during my playthrough. If you’re into words then this game has you well covered.

Eventually however, the gameplay had to kick in. It’s a “2.5D” style title. By which I mean there is a left-to-right side-scrolling movement, but you can still go up multiple paths on the 2D plane. If you’ve played Little Big Planet, you know what I’m talking about here. Later in the game you do gain the ability to fly which makes everything far easier to navigate, and transforms you into a real fairy princess! That is pretty badass.Creatures are randomly splattered throughout the stunning landscape, as is my understanding a standard in RPGs, and – depending on on who touches who first – then the turn-based combat kicks in. Each opponent has special weaknesses and strengths, but you’ll never know what they are until you’ve battled similar types a few times. After a bit of trial and error you do learn what to use on who and when.

There is a time element to the combat, as the bar at the bottom of the screen dictates who gets to make their move next, but overall I found it all rather relaxing. You have a glowing firefly sidekick, Igniculus, who can affect the combat in real-time. If you hover over enemies you can use his charge to slow down their move timer, but hover over your own team members and the same charge can heal them. It adds an extra layer to the proceedings, so you can find yourself battling it out turn-based RPG style using the left analogue stick while simultaneously buffing/nerfing with the right stick. It sounds far more hectic than it is in practice, and I found the combat to be extremely charming and oddly Zen.Behind the scenes though there is, what I am told, the regular cacophony of RPG stats to bask in: There’s a levelling system – because of course there is, a skill tree so massive you’d likely need to play the game for 40+ hours to mass every possibly upgrade, an elemental buff system called the ‘Oculi’, plus three buff spaces per character. These of course all apply to each individual member of your team, so if you’re into micromanaging squads then this is right up your street. Luckily teammates not in combat also gain experience, so you won’t be swapping out members like an indecisive political party to keep things balanced.

I used Aurora up front with my first team mate, Rubella, for a majority of the time and had no real issues. Feels like it’s very much based around the idea of “play how you want to”.

You only get to use two party members at once, but you can gather up to seven over the course of the game. Personally I always had Aurora up front because I thought she was awesome – and the protagonist should be the main player, dammit!The best combat comes when you’re up against a boss. The boss battles in Child of Light are marvellous. The art design on the enemies is fantastic, and the battles can last up to 30 minutes at their most intense! (I’m sure they can last even longer on the hardest difficulty and depending on player skill, but my longest was around half an hour.)

Unfortunately Child of Light is not perfect. This game does come across as an indie game, but it is not, and is therefore stained by many Ubisoft traits. Most notably uPlay. I want to stress this point as much as I did the visuals at the beginning; these god damn uPlay notifications mid-game completely destroyed the atmosphere. “You gained a party member. Have 40G worth absolutely piss all.” Don’t do this, Ubisoft. It’s one thing in a game like FarCry 3, but for shit’s sake show some self respect when it comes to a title with clear tone and artistic integrity.Also, the game crashed on me. No, really, it crashed on me. I was happily playing Child of Light on my PlayStation 4 and right at the final boss battle the game completely crapped out on me, forcing a full console reboot. It was beyond infuriating. There is a possibility it was a fault with my console specifically, but not according to my research. Only happened once, but the timing was horrific and most definitely worthy of noting.

However, thankfully these issues are so heavily outweighed by how unbelievably lovely Child of Light is. I sunk in over 20 hours in less than two days, and even hit 100% trophy completion at around 16 hours. One of the most lovable games I’ve played in years, and the ending left me smiling yet teary-eyed unlike any other game in years. This, in my mind, is a must have/try on every new generation of consoles (and PC). The world ‘beautiful’ does not do this game justice, so I will say it is pulchritudinous.

Areas for Improvement

 

  • Get rid of all the sodding uPlay stuff, or at the very least turn off the notifications in-game.
  • Fix the crashing bug, assuming my error was not a one-off.

Final Analysis

 

Child of Light is one of the most visually stunning games I have ever played. The visuals, combined with the superb turn-based RPG gameplay, make this one of the best downloadable titles on PSN right now. While there are a few minor niggles to be worked out, almost every element is perfectly crafted.

Technical Competency: 9/10

Graphic/Sound Quality: 10/10

Network Stability: 8.5/10

Overall: 9/10

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