The beauty of video games is that there’s a game for everyone. Each new “Call of Duty” and “Halo” regularly break sales records, “Grand Theft Auto” has never been more popular, and every year sees the updated release of beloved sports franchises; but all too often there is a lack of beauty in modern releases. That’s not to say the urban sprawl of “Grand Theft Auto” or the sci-fi sheen of “Halo” are not visual and technical marvels, which they rightfully are, but there is no real sense of splendor or grace in many mainstream releases. That’s why “Child of Light” is so refreshing to play with it’s bedtime fable world standing in stark contrast to a game market full of zombies and competitive online play. Despite being produced by video game publisher powerhouse Ubisoft, “Child of Light” is very much independent in its heart and soul.
The plot weaves a familiar but welcomed tale as it follows Aurora, a young princess who must rescue a magical land from darkness all the while recruiting a colorful band of allies to help her battle the evil queen and her minions. Aurora is an engaging protagonist and players can easily root for the young girl who staggers under the weight of her sword and is always having her crown knocked asunder; there is no romance, no prince to rescue her, and Aurora doesn’t need such things to define her. The world is brilliantly imagined with bright splashes of watercolor as the story moves through dark forests and bustling towns, floating castles and deep sea ruins. The game’s soundtrack is also perfect for the story, shifting from melancholy to simple joy without missing a beat; the end theme will stay with you for days. The imaginative cast of characters, such as an existential clown and a lovesick mouse archer, all speak in a quaint rhyming scheme which adds to the storybook like feeling and each character comes with a surprisingly touching back stories or quest. This was one of the most pleasant surprises about “Child of Light” in that beneath the colorful landscape and heroes there runs a deep current of sadness; death and growing up are integral parts to the story and it is because of this that the story never becomes overly sweet and proves itself far more mature than any gritty war game. Another surprising aspect of the game is how intelligently the gameplay is designed. The game plays in the 2D style of Mario but requires far more thought as puzzles abound forcing the player to stay one step ahead of enemies and traps. Fighting enemies requires careful planning, as many enemies are weak or resistant to various types of damage, and this plays out in a turn-based combat style that will be familiar to fans of the “Final Fantasy” or “Pokemon” series. It is during this combat that “Child of Light” really forces players to think on their feet as each battle requires the player to make splint second decisions such as whether or not to attack now or defend and boost damage; combat is never thankfully overly difficult and often proves deeply rewarding when the player pulls off a well-timed attack. “Child of Light” is a beautiful, touching, and intelligent game and never overstays its ten-to-twelve hour story line; its whimsical yet heartfelt nature could be off-putting to people used to the frantic nature of more popular games but these people are probably the type to have never cried in a Pixar movie. Simply put, this is one game that should not be missed; “Child of Light” is out now for all major consoles and computers.
Photo Source: Rafaeljbl.deviantart.com