Japanese Role-Playing games have seen a rise in popularity as of late. Titles like Xenoblade, Bravely Default, or Shin Megami Tensei 4 have all done their part in creating this resurgence. It is great to see a genre that was for the most part ignored last generation, see such a healthy amount of great titles being released lately. The good majority of them do a great job of distinguishing themselves as well. Enter Ubisofts recent downloadable title: Child of Light. Boasting a beautiful art direction, and a unique spin on turn-based combat. Is the game worth your time? Or is it simply…slime?
Child of Light is 2-D turn-based combat role-playing game. It starts with a stylized fairy tale passage reading. You play Aurora a young princess who in the middle of the night without known reason dies. Aurora awakens in the land known as Lemuria. Aurora sets out to discover where she is, and what her purpose for being there is. You than run into Igniculus. Igniculus is a shining ball of light who will help you in combat and puzzle solving throughout your journey. I Will leave the story elements there since I do not want to give too much away.
The combat in Child of Light is fairly straight forward turn-based affair. You and your enemies will take turns attacking , debuffing, or healing one another . The twist with Child of Light are the real-time elements that play into who actually makes their attacks and when. You and your enemies attack order is decided by a cast bar given at the beginning of combat. You are able to see where you are in terms of casting by a display image of your character on the bar. You and your enemies will start at the beginning of the bar. An enemy or player chooses an action for the turn, once they have reached the casting point on the bar. Your character’s speed will determine how quickly you reach the casting point on the bar. The combat becomes very strategic from this point. That is because, you can still be interrupted once you have selected your action for the turn. So you or your opponent can still interrupt one another if they have a faster casting time on their offensive move. The casting bar is where Igniculus helps greatly as well, Because Igniculus can use his light to slow down enemy speed and cast times. And As the game progresses the combat gains even more depth. This is because, you will meet a variety of companions throughout the game. And they all have their own unique abilities. So instead of having a job system like Final Fantasy or Dragon Quest. Child of Light goes for a simpler approach in that every one of your party members have a specific job. You are however limited to just two characters at anytime in combat. But you can also easily rotate through them mid combat as a way to have access to all of their unique abilities. It is a more streamlined approach than other role-playing systems. But that still does not make it any less engaging.
Even though the combat in this game is very well thought-out, other role-playing elements are lacking. The leveling system in this game follows a very streamlined approach. Leveling trees like World of Warcraft are found here. They are however underwhelming in the options they give to the player. You are given three different trees to use when it comes to leveling. But instead of making them each have a unique play style. They all just level up various stats such as health, mana, damage, Or improve specific moves your characters have. But that really will not change the way the characters play at all. It is a little disappointing but still gives you the ability to improve the skills you find more valuable for your characters. The crafting system in the game is also lacking. Rather than having gear you buy or craft. The game will reward you with gems. These gems are acquired when you defeat monsters or open treasure. You will find plenty of these throughout the game. The crafting system works as follows: gems combine with other colored gems, to turn into stronger gems, and then get placed in one of 3 sockets each character possesses that will either increase stats or buff damage. The problem with this system though is that it is poorly explained. In fact the only time I was even told about this ability was by a random NPC on my way to a new quest. It is a neat system but the only thing you have to work with is a vague hint system the game provides. I only played on normal difficulty. So this system could be far more important in hard or the new game plus option it offers upon completion of your first play through.
Child of Light does shine though in the presentation aspect. The game uses Ubisofts UBIART engine used in the recently rebooted 2-D Rayman platformers. So the game looks very vibrant and colorful with the areas in the game all having a unique style and color palette. The music is also lovely to listen to with soft piano melodies or lovely violin pieces. The characters however in the game due often lack a lot when it comes to personality or development. The rhyming dialogue is cute, but it only gets you so far when it comes to making characters likeable or interesting. The game otherwise has top-notch presentation quality.
Child of Light as a franchise has great much potential. This is obvious due to its beautifully created world and streamlined but still deep combat system. It is just unfortunate that other aspects like the crafting, leveling system, and characters were not more fleshed out. It is easily worth the asking of $15 dollars. And does provide a solid length of play of 10-12 hours. To players looking for a unique twist on turn-based combat, and a beautiful art design Child of Light comes highly recommended. But those who are looking for much deeper role-playing experience, should look elsewhere. Child of Light is only a good game at this point but I could easily see a sequel being something truly special.