Every once in a while, when the stars align, Ubisoft surprises the gaming community with an unusually intriguing title. A title vastly different from the annual Assassin’s Creed instalment and a far cry away from conventional first-person shooters. Scott Pilgrim vs. the World: The Game, Outland, Rayman Origins; excellent titles that deserve way more attention and prominence. True, sometimes they miss the mark and fall flat, but for every I Am Alive, we get a wonderful game like Child of Light.
Child of Light revolves around the young princess Aurora and her perilous journey throughout the magical world of Lemuria. Following the unfortunate demise of her mother, Aurora herself unexpectedly dies and awakens in a foreign land. To escape, she must restore the powers of the sun, the moon, and the stars, and confront the evil Queen of the Night.
On her journey, Aurora meets a cast of unusual characters, all of whom speak in rhymes. One of those characters is Igniculus, a jolly-looking firefly who aids Aurora in various ways. Together, they embark on a quest of restoring the lights of Lemuria and discover a path back to Aurora’s home.
As a platformer RPG with unique watercolour visuals, Child of Light immediately gives off a pleasant indie vibe. And, even though it released only five years ago, the game has already left a lasting impact. To commemorate Aurora’s anniversary, we take a look at what exactly made Child of Light so special and why you should definitely play it.
Don’t Fear the Night, Child of Light
Despite a seemingly simple premise, the story in Child of Light features numerous twists and a surprising amount of depth. According to IGN’s Vince Ingenito, the constant rhyming during conversations felt forced, and that is also how I often felt about it. But much of its appeal stems from the impeccable presentation, composed of the unique visual design and musical score.
Inspired by the Japanese artist Yoshitaka Amano (Final Fantasy series) and famed Studio Ghibli (My Neighbor Totoro, Spirited Away), Child of Light features a colourful storybook aesthetic. It tells a serious story with deep undertones, yet remains bright visually; every scene looks like a lovingly crafted page in a children’s book.
A poster depicting Aurora, included in the game’s European Deluxe Edition, was drawn by Amano-san himself. It featured the unmistakable style of the artist, so familiar to every fan of the Final Fantasy series. Truly, a invaluable treat for anyone who wanted to own something unique in addition to the game itself. Developers even collaborated with the Japanese artist in creating several of the game’s numerous characters.
Music was composed by Canadian artist Béatrice Martin and provided the game with a serene atmosphere. It felt pleasantly relaxing to explore the dream-like world of Lemuria and most tracks were like listening to a soothing lullaby.
Fight With All Your Might, Child of Light
Behind all that visible and audible goodness was also a large amount of substance in terms of exploration and combat. Aurora could traverse Lemuria, uncover hidden treasure chests, solve relatively simple puzzles and battle the world’s various inhabitants.
Players could assemble a team of two characters met during travels, as well as manually control Igniculus. The friendly firefly could be used to blind enemies during combat or heal allies, or Aurora herself. Battles progressed in a dynamic ATB style, similar to so many Final Fantasy and Grandia entries. And characters performed actions based on their spot in the timeline; encounters against challenging bosses were particularly memorable. Upon victory, characters were rewarded with experience and items.
Seeing Aurora grow both in terms of personality and stats was fun. And developing powerful crystals called Oculi – bestowing unique properties – even more so.
Child of Light also featured a local co-op mode. Taking control of Aurora’s companion, Igniculus, the second player could prevent enemies from performing actions during combat, or heal other characters. Outside of combat, it could be used to open out-of-reach treasure chests. It felt somewhat like controlling the hat in the recent Super Mario Odyssey, and not exactly engaging. But nonetheless, it did offer an opportunity for two players to interact with the game in a slightly more proactive manner.
Child of Light II?
Upon release, the game received predominantly positive reviews and greatly surpassed the publisher’s expectations. It did well enough commerically to spawn a digital book in 2015 and even a planned TV adaptation, currently in development.
As a rare and relatively unusual title from Ubisoft, Child of Light warrants at least a single, enjoyable playthrough. Even if only for its charming visuals and magical fantasy world. And the teased development of a sequel provides all the more reason to give it a try.
Child of Light is available on pretty much every platform from the current and previous generation of consoles, including the Xbox One, and the most recent version on the Nintendo’s Switch. Moreover, it comes with an affordable price tag and if you can manage to find the Deluxe Edition somewhere in the wild, consider getting that.
Aside from the previously mentioned poster by Yoshitaka Amano, it also includes a beautiful keychain in the form of Igniculus. Other tidbits feature a tiny artbook and some codes for downloadable content.
Regardless of which version you intend to obtain, Child of Light is sure to deliver an experience that you will remember in the years to come.