“Let me tell a story of Lemuria, a kingdom past, and a girl born for glory…”
When I first saw the trailer for a small Ubisoft game entitled “Child of Light”, I was utterly mesmerised. The art style, narration and score of the announcement trailer cemented it as a game to watch out for in the future, and after seeing the trailer announcing the release date I’m convinced that it has the potential to be one of the best games to come out in 2014 (April 30th, to be exact!).
Using Ubisoft’s UbiArt Framework the developers have been able to use concept art in the game as assets, 2D animation combined with 3D models and animation to make for a unique art style. Previously used in Rayman Origins and Legends, Child of Light adopts the same technology to bring it’s watercolour world to life. The developers say they aimed for it to feel like “A playable poem”, the visuals capturing all the rhythm, flow and beauty a poem can hold.
Aurora, our young heroine, awakes to find herself in the dream-like world of Lemuria instead of her home in 1985 Austria. In this new world the Queen of the Night has taken the sun, stars and moon, and it’s up to Aurora (joined by her glowing companion Igniculus) to retrieve them whilst conquering her fears in order to return home to her ailing father. Along the way you’ll discover there is a lot more is going on than it initially seems as you delve into this new world.
This coming of age story is deeply woven into both the narrative and gameplay progression. As Aurora traverses the world and grows herself she will also gain access to over two hundred skills. During an interview, the writer, Jeffrey Yohalem, said he wanted to create a story that touched upon the darkness in the world, and the progression from the perceived world into the truth of it. These systems run deep within the game and help to give it a unique feel and fast connection with the character. As per usual, experience points are collected from slain enemies and allow you to both level up Aurora and access new skills.
Designed around accessibility, the game aims to both honour the JRPG style it’s born from and engage both inexperienced and veteran players in a new way. It uses and builds upon well-developed gameplay at it’s core similar to that of Rayman Legends, but also introduces a classic but refined basis for combat. The system encourages strategy and tactics through it’s turn based style, encapsulating the rhythm and timing aimed for in it’s direction as a playable epic poem. Timing, thought and watching the enemy’s moves allows you to master the flow of combat, interrupting attacks and dodging damage to beat down even the toughest of foes. The spin put on a classic turn based system, the introduction of the timing bar, allows a fresh reinvention of a popular mechanic which is sure to keep things interesting.
On top of the inventive combat, Child of Light has puzzles at its core. Though I haven’t been lucky enough to go hands on with the game myself, from all reports the puzzles are clever and well executed, with a good amount of difficulty to keep the player on their toes!
If all this wasn’t enough the game features both a vast world to explore packed with enemies and treasures, and over six hundred crafting recipes to be used with your newly acquired gems. Even from the trailers we can see there’s quite a diverse set of environments and atmospheres packed into this title. Scenes of ruins with an almost aquatic appearance conjure up memories of Journey’s darkened caverns, whilst brightt towns filled with towers and houses feel like something out of a Studio Ghibli film. I seriously can’t stop appreciating how beautiful this game is.
Child of Light also features local co-op, designed to be experienced with a friend or family member in the same room. Whilst it can be played completely solo, the addition of a partner however adds a new perspective to the tale. The second player takes on the role of Igniculus, Aurora’s small luminescent companion. He comes into play both during combat and in general play, illuminating dark passageways and helping to solve puzzles. In combat he can be used to heal our heroine and disadvantage enemies, but your choices in how you use his abilities play into the strategy of the battle. The more in sync the players, the more useful each character’s moves will be. The co-op aspect is about traversing this new world together and sharing the journey of Aurora and Igniculus.
In my opinion this game has all the hallmarks to be a huge hit. It seems like it will have a real deep and compelling narrative married quite deeply with the gameplay systems and stunning art. Some of the most impressive and iconic titles over the last few years have done a similar thing, with Journey and The Unfinished Swan immediately coming to mind. Only time will tell whether it will be as successful as it seems, but it certainly illuminates itself amongst the majority of popular, more gritty and ‘realistic’, titles topping the market in recent times. In my mind this lesser known title has the capacity to at least match or succeed the acclaim of the big hitters this year, possibly even earning itself a spot as the unsung masterpiece of 2014. Either way Ubisoft Montreal have done an amazing job thus far and I can not wait to play Ubisoft Montreal’s beautiful epic poem when it launches.
Child of Light releases April 30th (digitally only!) on PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Wii U, and PC for $19.95. For more information on the game you can visit the game’s Tumblr which contains interviews, behind the scenes content and even more beautiful artwork! The announcement trailer can be viewed here, and the latest release date and features trailer below!