I celebrate the big 7-0 by taking a look at the eye-popping Child of Light by Ubisoft!
Settin’ Em Up and Knockin’ Em Down
Good day fellow backloggers!! Today’s another day where I get completely distracted from doing the things I’m supposed to be doing, like writing this very edition of The Daily Backlog! Well, obviously I’ve gotten around to it because you wouldn’t be reading it right now otherwise. But regardless of the distractions and the intensity of their persuasive abilities to make us fall into the “internet rabbit holes” of the internet – we will persevere!! There are games to play dang it! And a humongous backlog to tackle!!
And let me tell you, did I ever wrassle that backlog into submission over the last month. With 10, count em, 10 completions! Kind of amazing really, considering at the beginning of this whole thing I calculated I, on average, beat around 16 per year. And already, we’re at 18!! But that’s not what I’m here to talk about because I’ve been sinking some of my time into the wonderfully artistic and fairytale-esk Child of Light!
The Dark Behind the Light
Child of Light is a unique hybrid of a 2D platformer and a turn based RPG developed by Ubisoft Montreal and was released on every modern console known to man in 2014. With a Switch release dropping late 2018. I say unique because Ubisoft utilized their fancy UbiArt Framework tool kit to develop it. Which is a hybrid engine in and of itself, where some of the complexities of “programming” a game have been removed or abstracted and a lot of the control has been given to the artists. You know, the ones that make the game look gooooood. It gives the creative types the freedom to explore fun and interesting art styles, music and visuals without needing to know all of that technical mumbojumbo. All the while experimenting with gameplay that ties it all together into a cohesive package. I’m sure there are limitations to it, but from what I’ve played so far, it seems like the Ubisoft Montreal team knows what they’re doing when it came to creating Child of Light.
And let me tell ya, it’s surprisingly dark! The game starts off with you, Aurora, the young daughter of a Duke, suddenly dying in her sleep from a fatal disease. Grief stricken, her father falls into despair and is no longer able to perform his duties as the Duke. Suddenly Aurora wakes up in the dreamlike land of Lemuria, which happens to be threatened by the Queen of the Night, Umbra. Now it is her duty to revive Lemuria’s light and defeat Umbra. And hopefully upon doing so, return to the land of the living. Saving herself and her father.
Two Sides of the Coin
Gameplay-wise, Child of Light is exactly what you’d expect by reading its genre descriptor. You’ll be weaving in and out of 2D environments (beautifully rendered by the way), jumping (or flying) around platforms, finding collectibles and secrets and defeating enemies in RPG style battles. All pretty straightforward and simple really. But the twist comes from some of the gameplay mechanics that Ubisoft implemented around these things that makes Child of Light unique, for better or worse.
For one, with the addition of you having the ability to fly, it grants you a wider opportunity for exploration. You know, instead of being tied to the ground. But it also makes exploring a little harder since you don’t have a mini-map to track where you’ve already been. Meaning it’s easy to miss things or you may find yourself re-exploring the same areas of the sky over and over. Or even the fact that you don’t have equipment. Instead you socket “Oculi” or gems to either your weapon, armor or accessory slots to increase your affinity for various elements and/or gain useful perks. Which you can combine to make stronger. This is all well and good, but I find I’m constantly in the menu, changing them up so I can deal with one enemy or another. And then the next battle having to do it all over again. I just want to play the game dang it!
But one of the most interesting and fun additions to the game is your little friend Igniculus. A small teardrop shaped fairy that you can control with your right analog stick. You can move him around to stun enemies in the platforming sections allowing you to ambush them, or slow them down during the actual battles giving you a preemptive edge! You can even use him to gradually heal yourself! This of course, isn’t free, he will use up his “energy” that needs to be replenished frequently. But luckily, handy little flowers are strewn throughout the area that can be used to regain your expended “wish power”.
Igniculus is useful when trying to solve puzzles as well! Using his light ability, you can brighten dark areas and reveal treacherous traps. Or even uncover secrets only seen by his light! Also, there are various puzzles that require you to shine his light on objects to cast shadows or charge “solar powered” devices. And if you want to go about playing Child of Light “Mario Galaxy” style, Igniculus can be controlled by a second player!
Rhyme is Mightier than the Sword
Really, the shining light of this whole game though, is its presentation. The graphics are absolutely stunning with hand drawn and hand painted characters and environments. You can really see the artists took the whole fairy tale theme and just ran with it. It’s like reading through an intricately designed childrens storybook. Almost to a fault really. Because not only do they take that philosophy and apply it to the world, the developers also applied it to all of the dialog! So each and every line, is in rhyme. Which is super interesting and cool… for the first hour or so. After that it becomes a bit tedious and wrot (pretentious perhaps?) and it makes the story hard to follow. That and rhymes don’t always seem to flow smoothly so it trips me up when I’m reading it. It’s weird I know, but I could have done without it. Or maybe just had it in the cutscenes when the narrator is reading them to me.
The only other complaint I have about Child of Light, is the fact that Aurora is rendered in 3D instead of 2D like every other character and creature. At times it’s not noticeable, but during the times that it is, she really sticks out like a sore thumb and breaks the cohesion of the visuals. I get why the devs did it, since it would be easier to give her character model more varied animations but I love the aesthetics of the game. I just wish they took her design in a different direction. Aside from that though, there really isn’t much to complain about. The soundtrack is soothing and suites the game to a tee and the visual effects really add to the charm of the game. And I’m excited to see what else Child of Light has hidden in the shadows! I especially can’t wait to see what this Queen of the Night looks like!
A Bedtime Story
All in all, I’m really enjoying Child of Light so far. It has its little quibbles, and it can be a bit slow at times like every other RPG in existence. Right now it seems like there isn’t much variety in the abilities you acquire but that could just be because I’m still early on in the game. However, my biggest worry was that I was going to be forced to grind out levels in order to succeed! Then I realized I started the game on the expert mode after reading over my notes! I don’t know why I did that and maybe after bumping it down to the standard difficulty it will alleviate some of the gameplay quirks I was having trouble with.
Honestly though, if you’re looking for a “sit back and relax” RPG with striking visuals and a twist of platforming and puzzle solving I’d urge you to cave to your curiosities and check Child of Light out! It’s a unique little game (and short too) that really showcases what’s possible when you open up the world of game development to artists! I’m super excited to see what else Ubisoft does with this framework and I hope to see more games using it in the future!
If you’re interested in checking out Child of Light and would like to play along with me, you can find it on the Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch and Steam! Follow the links below for the platform of your choice!!
70, The Platinum Wedding Anniversary
Well my friends, that’ll do it for today! It was a long one and a stark contrast to yesterday’s post, but I think it was worth diving deep into Child of Light and sharing with all of you my impressions of it so far! I’ll definitely be playing more in the coming days so look forward to that. And of course, I’ll try to squeeze in some of the Mario + Rabbids too (which I’ve been shamefully neglecting).
Until tomorrow, have a great rest of your Tuesday!!!
Mario + Rabbids (Switch) – The Trio
Crypt of the Necrodancer (Switch) – Me
Child of Light (Xbox One) – Me
Total Backlogged Games: 732 …That sure is a number that’s for sure!
Total Completed Games: 18 …Only two from twenty!
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