Published on May 9th, 2014 | by Michaela Buckley0
Child of Light
It seems like this past year, developers are beginning to branch out and make different kinds of games, starting with the release of Demon’s Souls a few years ago, the western-inspired Dark Souls 2 and the Final Fantasy-esque South Park came out last month are signalling a change in the industry.
It is these changes that allowed the existence of Child of Light, a turn-based RPG from the creators of Farcry 3, inspired by Japanese RPGs and Studio Ghibli animation. A digital-only title, the game was released this month on all current consoles at a lower retail price of £15.00 and is only about 13 hours long offering an authentic gaming experience unlike most digital-only games which are over-priced in comparison.
In 19th C Austria, a duke’s young daughter dies from an illness, but is immediately reborn in the magical world of Lemuria, where she meets a small glowing light, a sprite named Igniculus who aids her, and discovers that in order to return home, she must defeat an evil witch who has been plaguing the land.
During the game, all dialogue is spoken in simplistic verse: mostly in the form of closed rhyming couplets, with slight deviations to the formula.
The battles are active time-based (ATB) and attacks are selected after the waiting time and executed during the charge time. If a character is attacked after they have selected their move, but before they have executed it, they are interrupted – the move is cancelled and they are pushed further back on the waiting bar, this can be done to both the enemies and your characters, so it makes for very dynamic gameplay.
Igniculus can also be used during battle, when hovering over a player character he heals their health or over an enemy he slows their ATB bar.
The level-up system shares characteristics with Ubisoft Montreal’s Farcry 3, a branching set of attributes and stat upgrades which are un-lockable using points gained through levelling. There are a number of paths so that there is some choice in what skills to pursue.
There are 3 equippable slots; Head, Armour & Accessory, crystals are used as the equipment and are gained as loot from battles. There is a crafting system with 3 slots which you can insert crystals and make higher ranking crystals from, either by mixing colours or by putting 3 of the same colour together. Depending on the colour and the slot that you equip it in, they have a range of effects including chance hits of paralysis on the enemy or a percentage reduction in elemental damage.
The presentation is of high quality and belies its presumed budgetary costs, the sprites are hand-drawn looking with smooth animations, and are styled in 2D, similar to paper cut-outs, except for some elements like Aurora’s hair, which swishes around 3-dimensionally.
The backgrounds are layered and moves when the camera pans and both inside and out of battle are side-scrolling screens, so that the battle system initially looks like an old Final Fantasy game.
The music is beautiful, with thematic melodies that echo in essence throughout and some orchestral sounds that give it a rich and solid sound. Choral sequences enter during boss battles making them feel grand and heroic, with quieter, violin pieces accompanying the world adventuring.
Although simplistic and easy to learn, the game offers a hidden depth when it comes to the battle system, the interferences one inflicts can allow lots of different tactics and methods for taking down an opponent. The range of spells and characters changes the pace of battles and suit all kinds of players. Enemies mix it up with counterattacks, activating on certain conditions, magic attacks, physical attacks, or even retaliating only when interrupted, these combinations of move-sets mean the player is often required to change techniques in order to defeat opponents.
I have heard the battle system is similar to Grandia, but a bit simpler, an indication of its JRPG roots.
Boss battles are fun and challenging, however sometimes spring up at unforeseen intervals meaning that lack of preparation can often be a cause for demise. Sporadic quests offer new characters, however I found the first addition to be the most effective. At times I found that I had gotten myself lost in the game, not knowing where to go or simply not being able to map segments in my head, however, continual exploration got me to grip with it, especially when doing a couple of the sidequests, which have you backtracking and fast-travelling in order to find oddities.The difficulty of the game ranges, at the beginning through to the middle, it is really easy and then gets to a more normal difficulty onwards, I turned up the difficulty throughout this time until around the middle, where I changed it to normal on the fly, which is a great choice to allow the player.
I never found that I had to try to level or round up loot, with tactics being the major factors in winning battles against bosses and enemies.
Although not evoking that quintessential Japanese RPG experience that the game was hyped to, Child of Light breeds its own kind of adventure which is visually stunning and emotionally satisfying outside of the entertaining battle system.
The characters are charming, the poetic style of text is fitting (I have seen mentions of people thinking otherwise) and the atmosphere is visionary and nostalgic in a way that isn’t replicating 8 or 16 bit art.
If there were any issues with this game, then it’d would be the sad knowledge that we’ll unlikely see anything else quite like this, from anyone else like this, any time soon.
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