It has been so long since I’ve played a new turn based RPG and boy did I miss it. For $15 I stepped into the world of Lumeria and didn’t regret a moment. Ubisoft takes a few new approaches that I really enjoyed. Igniculus, light the way.
Child of Light is a simple game. There is little depth, but that is ok. Sometimes it is fun to go on a generic adventure as long it is engaging. Aurora has been cast into in unknown world and must grow up quickly if she is to ever see her homeland again. She is tasked with finding the various pieces of light. This is secondary to her drive to return home. Her journey provides her with friends and skills to battle the dark, but at the first opportunity she childishly jumps ship to make her way back home to her dying father. This doesn’t work out and after rejoining her companions she resolves to save this new land, no matter the cost. I wasn’t emotionally invested in the story, but I did enjoy the moments where Aurora was maturing.
The whole game rhymes. This was both strength and a weakness. I appreciate the skill it took to have every single bit of text match each other, and many times it was done in an astonishingly clever manner. However, goals were sometimes unclear and the story suffered from lack of detail that stemmed from the rhyme scheme. If given the chance to switch this up, I’d let it stay. The charm of the game came from its fairy tale simplicity. From the rhyme to the art approach to the music, the game would have suffered if it tried to be more than it was.
The characters were quite rich. The party members had simple traits making them instantly charming, but even many of the games NPCs were a treat for those of us that talk to everyone in hopes of a random item. Everything in this game when imagined as bedtime stories has its allure. I look forward to a replay of this game when I have children.
At the heart of all RPGs resides the grind. If you like these types of games, you’ve accepted and even come to love this part of the quest. Child of Light brings a more active and, in doing so, a more pleasurable means of battle upon battle. As with most games, you pick your moves and take your turns. Some games even have the Action Log displayed as a bar showing who or what is next to occur. The addition of the firefly gives you something to do when you are waiting for your next action selection. With the lil dude, you can “blind” enemies to slow their progress on the action bar thus giving your characters a chance to act first. The benefits of this are not only a reduction in taken damage, but the chance to interrupt enemy casting if timed correctly. This makes every battle an involved experience, rather than spamming “A” to queue the heroes’ next spell. An additional perk is the option to have a second person control the firefly. Unfortunately, I have no second controller and the game didn’t have a Smartglass app (missed opportunity), so I didn’t get to experience this myself.
Outside of battle, you are exploring in regular fashion in a side scrolling world. There are the typical chests and hidden treasures. Early on you receive the ability to fly, thus eliminating the restriction of mainly traversing to the left or right. You have control of the firefly here as well, and he lights paths and is used in the simple puzzles for different switches and doors. His most useful attribute in this facet of the game is once again his ability to “blind.” This can be utilized to surprise enemies for a battle advantage or to bypass enemies entirely.
Your party grows as you meet and assist citizens of Lumeria. One of the biggest disappointments is that fact that you only have two members active in battle at a time. The system lends itself to easy switching mid-battle, but with a wide array of group heals and buffs, they seemed useless to be cast on only two members. Their skill trees were wonderful on a positive note. With no gear to equip, they made progress solely level based which worked well for me. Experience comes abundantly and skill points are doled out on almost an every other battle basis. I enjoyed making my Aurora a strength based, sword wielding force to be reckoned with (which was personally rewarding after her growth spurt) and tempering the rest of my team to support her.
My only other complaints were with the Oculi system and Achievement glitches. The Oculi enhancements were a good touch and simple to equip, but their crafting was a huge hassle with no blueprints and an inventory mess. I also wasn’t awarded with achievements when I completed them. As a Ubisoft title, you earn Uplay rewards for doing these tasks as well, so I’d see a Uplay notification yet no Xbox achievement. It was frustrating.
If you are a fan of turn based RPGs, Child of Light is definitely a buy for only $15. The combat keeps you involved, but lacks a third party member that would really perfect it. Aurora’s coming of age is as cliché as it gets, nevertheless the simplicity is just what the game needed in a small title. The fun of the game overshadows the handful of shortcomings it packed.