Child Of Light
The storylines of games, much like screenplays, must show things through actions, not just words. That's a concept that Child of Light has clearly embraced because it is positively wonderful to gaze at. Both looking and sounding like a fairy tale mixed up with some beautiful stanzas of poetry, it feels like the kind of game that art fans will love to write many, many words on. It also happens to be an enjoyable game too, albeit one that isn't exactly going to test RPG fans' playing skills.
You play Aurora, a young girl, who is mysteriously swept away to the world of Lemuria. Engulfed by darkness, it's down to Aurora and her companions to bring the light back through any means necessary. Fortunately, there's plenty of help at hand. Initially, Aurora comes into contact with a firefly called Igniculus who can help her bring light to the darkness.
At its most basic level, Igniculus can be used as a kind of moving torch but he can do so much more than that. Interestingly, he can be controlled by a second player or by using the right analog stick. While Igniculus isn't quite as exciting to control as Aurora, it's the kind of format that lends itself well to duos of gamers where one player is much more inexperienced than the other.
Not that Child of Light is a particularly challenging game. It's a fun ride and does eventually get a bit trickier, but few players will find themselves overly tested, even on Hard mode. Much of the time will be spent exploring Lemuria with Aurora unlocking the ability to fly within the first hour of the game.
There's no way to keep track of where you have or haven't been and at times, it's not immediately clear where to go next. That doesn't actually matter though as it's a soothing enough experience simply gliding that it's genuinely enjoyable seeking out secrets and hidden elements within the world.
Often, to access new areas, timed puzzles must be completed, often relating to the light and the use of Igniculus. In keeping with the rest of the game, they're not taxing exactly but they do tend to take a moment or two to fully deduce.
What feels less calming yet rarely much harder are the many battles that take place. A mixture of turn based yet constantly active combat, there's plenty going on, but it's rarely hard for those with some knowledge of good timing. A timer bar at the bottom of the screen depicts what order that one takes their move in. Such timings can be manipulated either via spells or via placing Igniculus on top of an enemy in order to inflict a slowing move upon them.
When up against numerous foes, there's some need to plan ahead and figure out where best that Igniculus should be placed. At the end of the timer bar is a casting window, depicting the brief period of time in which one can interrupt an attack. It's a relatively simple system yet surprisingly tactical after a time, even if it's rarely overly challenging until the later stages of the game.
Continuing the instant gratification that befits the rest of the game, levelling up is frequent with it often only taking a couple of battles before Aurora or one of her companions levels up, thereby gaining a new skill point to allocate. The skill trees are varied, almost reminiscent of Final Fantasy X's Sphere Grid, thanks to there never being a predictable path towards healing or tanking. It's not overly in-depth though, feeling like a beginner's guide to JRPG techniques more than anything else.
That's a similar story with the crafting system with players able to graft gems onto their weaponry to enjoy elemental boosts as well as stat boosts. It's almost too simple with it clear that switching to different elements in different areas will provide the most benefits.
That's the crucial problem with Child of Light. It's beautiful and tells an interesting story, but it is relatively simplistic and its mechanics lack depth. At times the story falters, mostly because it sticks rigidly to a rhyming poem format which doesn't always work, but it's worth experiencing. However, the rest of the game is pretty straight forward.
Lacking anything particularly taxing for the experienced gamer, it's a bite sized, almost casual RPG that befits its downloadable nature but nothing more. The One is crying out for a more story focused game, particularly when it comes to vast worlds to explore. Child of Light isn't it, being more a tantalising appetiser than the real thing. It will at least satiate those tastebuds for a little while though, even if it does leave RPG fans crying out for more.
Child Of Light is available now to download on PC, PS4, PS3, Xbox One, Xbox 360 and Wii U.