Child Of Light Review
Child Of Light’s best quality is that it is quaint.
Without getting too namby pamby about it, the combination of gorgeous visuals, pleasant audio and subtle RPG mechanics make it feel just lovely.
There’s nothing threatening about Child Of Light. Well, besides the ferocious beasts that stand between you and the world you have to save, of course.
This is as close to an original fairy tale that a videogame can get, and it’d be impossible to wish any form of negativity onto a game just as thoroughly playable as this.
What is Child Of Light?
Built on Rayman Legends’ UbiArt Framework, Child Of Light is a glorious mesh of watercolours that the main character – young princess Aurora – must navigate to find her way home from the dreamlike world.
At its core Child Of Light is a turn-based RPG, with battles initiating after contact with their enemy equivalents in the hand painted 2D world.
It’s all simply put together and, before long, you’ll be off on an adventure guided by a tiny firefly, whose uses crossover into the gameplay itself – but more on him later.
There’s zero friction to Child Of Light. Though its RPG systems aren’t too simple, they are subtle enough that it never really feels like a core feature.
Mostly you’ll have one of three skill trees to work your way through, unlocking extra benefits each time a character levels up. The item system, too, manages that fine line between mundane and compelling.
It won’t task RPG lovers by any stretch, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth playing. Mostly thanks to the combat system, honestly.
Child Of Light’s Combat
Child Of Light fits a very regimented structure to its combat system, allowing for limited player characters available at any one time to be pit up against up to three enemies – though bosses sometimes alter the traditional battle arena layout.
Key to combat is the time bar located at the bottom of the screen. Though turn-based, both your characters and the enemy take their actions according to their position on this bar.
What is interesting is the ‘Cast’ section, however; get hit while preparing an action during this phase and you’ll have your ability cancelled and your time on the bar set back.
But the enemy, too, fall victim to this effect, and utilising the correct strategy will not only give you the advantage but, with careful time management, even make it possible to prevent an enemy from ever attacking.
It’s a brilliant risk/reward system: dare to hope you won’t be struck and you may get the drop on an enemy, where you can decimate them with (carefully managed) ease.
To assist with this your accompanying firefly friend can blind enemies (as well as heal your party members) to slow their progress on the bar, making for a very active approach to combat.
In fact, for a turn-based RPG this is one of the most active systems for a while; there’s always something to think about and to act upon, making even the incidental battles never feel all that repetitive.
This isn’t an RPG reliant on the numbers-game, but instead the involving nature of combat itself.
The World Of Child Of Light
With that said, it is worth noting some of the criticisms of exploration.
Aurora has the ability to fly, which makes initiating a surprise attack – by touching the back of an enemy – unfairly easy.
The variety of beasts, too, is sadly not that grand. Though you’ll encounter increasingly difficult monsters, often you’ll find the same types reappear with a palette or elemental swap.
In truth it never feels like too much of a criticism – especially since knowing how a monster fights is important for utilising that combat system to overcome them – but it can feel a little samey in that regard.
Exploration itself is fairly uneventful, too. The odd puzzle might be presented before you can make any progress, but they rarely make you stop and think.
Yet it’s better that they’re included, because otherwise you’ll have very little to witness outside of floating from battle to battle.
There are hidden items to find, mostly potions and gems for equipment, but again these secret environments won’t prove too much of a challenge to find for experienced RPG players.
Child Of Light Review
But then that perhaps isn’t who Child Of Light is aimed at. This is RPG-lite, which – in and of itself – is not a criticism.
Much like South Park: The Stick Of Truth before it, Child Of Light’s praise does not lie with its complex set of RPG tools but, instead, the glorious world you’re given to appreciate.
It is extremely twee in that regard – it’s impossible for a game whose dialogue is written in rhyme for it to not be – but that doesn’t make it any less enjoyable.
On the matter of the rhyming, however, it is probably worth noting that this is the single-worst part of Child Of Light.
While a good idea in theory, in execution it is more akin to your loser of a friend who thinks he can rap, and ultimately manages no better than rhyming ‘cat’ with ‘hat’.
Child Of Light shares that problem, where the writing suffers from an obnoxious need to rhyme – often looking for painful ways to match up words with very simple rhyming opposites.
It’s not smart writing, and it can roughen up the calming nature of the game.
All the same, Child Of Light manages to remain a very pleasant journey. It’ll never surprise you, it’ll never amaze you, but you’ll likely enjoy every minute of it.
More than anything it’s pleasing to see something new, and something creative. It might not appeal to hardcore RPG players or FPS maniacs, but it’s still manages to feel inclusive as a game. There are no barriers to its enjoyment.
If you’re looking for something new to play or looking for a new Sunday game – you know the type – then for the price you certainly can’t go far wrong with Child Of Light.
Version tested: PS4