Child of Light – the gateway RPG

I hadn’t heard much about Child of Light before it came out, but evidently I had missed something as the whole world was talking about it upon its release. I looked to get it on Steam but as soon as I saw it on the PSN store I grabbed it, I mean any new games to play on the PlayStation is a good thing and while I am not exactly light on games at the moment, another one can’t exactly hurt. For a price of £11.99 it will make people check out a few videos before buying, but the price is attractive enough to not make a big dent in the wallet and just means that more people can pick it up. I wish that this was cross buy with the PS Vita, but alas, if only we lived in such a world. I’ve named this review, the gateway RPG and that’s because I think this is a game that is perfect for introducing those who are sceptical about the genre, it certainly makes me want to play more RPGs. The levelling and RPG elements are sufficient for an RPG fan but also simple enough for a new comer to ease into. So if your interested, read on.

The story starts off by telling us a tail of a princess in Austria, all is well until the girl mysteriously dies leaving her heartbroken father to mourn her passing. But don’t get too upset, the princess Aurora is not dead but is teleported to the magical land of Lemuria where she embarks on a quest to get home, finding herself part of something much bigger than it seems at first. The story starts off slowly and was not one of the more interesting points starting off, but as the game progresses you do find yourself becoming more invested in the situation, and the simple charm of the characters makes you get attached to them without realising its doing it. Plot twists are relatively easy to figure out and the game makes no effort to try and trick you. However, Child of Light tries to be nothing more than a fairy tale, and this is pulled off beautifully.

The art style in Child of Light has a great illustrated feel and it is very obvious that the whole thing has been designed to look hand drawn (unless it was actually hand drawn, of course). Different areas such as forests, skies, oceans and plains lend themselves perfectly to this style with subtle differences totally changing the feel of the environment. This is also apparent for the characters as well. One of the controllable characters, Aurora is one of the few 3D models that exist, making the contrast between the land, and other characters not only noticeable but also stays true to the ‘fairly tale’ feel of the game. I say one of the controllable characters because one of the biggest game mechanics involved is a little spirit called Igniculus. As one of the fist character you meet, he can be controlled either with a second player or with the right analog stick of the controller. Throughout the game Igniculus can glow to slow traps, distract enemies, open chests and collect items.

But by far the best thing about Child of Light is the combat. Like most RPGs this is the case and like a lot of RPG’s the combat is turn based. However, Child of Light adds it’s own twist to the tale and once again provided a system that is very satisfying. While you will have a larger party of characters, only two can be utilised at any time. These can be swapped around on the fly so making sure that you use the fight powers against the right bad guys is key. Character moves are determined by a bar at the bottom which will show the order of everyone’s attacks. There is a large portion of wait time followed by a small casting section. Tactics are key here as if a cast is interrupted by another attack you will be knocked back. This means that it is important to target certain enemies and not just wail on them until they die. These are especially relevant in the boss battles and can be very rewarding when pulled off correctly. Igniculus can also be used in these battles to slow down the enemy’s progress and also heal your party. This again is a key part of the combat and doesn’t feel tacked on for a 2 player experience.

Overall it is very hard for me to recommend Child of Light as I am very aware that this game won’t be for everyone. All I can say is that it’s definitely worth a try even if you are an old school RPG player or just looking to try out the genre with a nice intro game. The beautiful style makes navigating the skills, menu and world a joy and the characters are interesting enough to keep it mixed up. The game itself isn’t that long and can be completed in a few sessions so don’t worry about getting stuck in another RPG that has no end in sight.