Child of Light review: bright spot

Child of Light is a must-play for casual and hardcore fans of RPGs alike.

Ubisoft has had a heavy reliance on franchises as of late. However, that doesn't mean the publisher doesn't know how to weave a provocative, original game. One that can be a real head-turner going into the start of summer. And, no, we're not talking about Watch Dogs, we're talking about Child of Light. This role-playing adventure has come out of nowhere, providing the adventurous spirit hardcore fans of the genre have come to expect. All while keeping accessible, yet fresh, gameplay for all players to enjoy. There's something here for everyone, and that's just part of what makes it so magical. The game revolves around Aurora, a little girl who finds herself ripped from her world and transported into the dark fantasy world of Lemuria. With only a bright blue spirit to guide her, she learns that she's the only one who can restore light to the land – although a few enemies assure that the journey won't be easy. As Aurora progresses through the world, she'll occasionally need assistance from secondary characters. These include a dwarf who's lost his confidence along with a long cast of other wondrous characters that join the adventure. She'll also receive help from a spirit, which flows around the screen, picking up energy orbs. It also gives Aurora and her allies some much-needed health during battle.

The game's characters are well defined here

Friends can join in the game by taking control of the blue spirit. While hardly as big an experience as other co-op games, it's interesting, especially when you work together to solve puzzles or blind an enemy that blocks Aurora's path. Child of Light has a unique battle system that totally clicks. Rather than having players grind over mindless battles, this game has a meter at the bottom of the screen, which gauges whose turn is next. During turns, you can time your counter-attacks to slow or interrupt an enemy, in which the meter then comes around to you again, allowing you to strike with a number of abilities. It's a fair system that works especially well at higher difficulties. As you progress in Child of Light, you'll work your way through a skill tree, unlocking new abilities (without having to grind for them, thankfully) and eventually making your party a force to be reckoned with. Again, it's quite fair, and gives more than enough drive to keep you going well later into the game. The main downside to the game is that the AI on the normal setting doesn't put up much of a fight. An enemy might have you on the ropes, but then your blue spirit can restore all your energy. If you want a real fight, go into the harder difficulty setting. It's here that you'll really master what the battle system has to offer.

Child of Light provides tremendous amounts of beauty

Where Child of Light will really hook into you is with its presentation. The soundtrack is perhaps the most compelling we've heard from Ubisoft Montreal to date, and it stays within the flow of the action, whether you're somberly visiting a village or jumping head-first into battle. The art style is wonderful, with a beauteous hand-drawn quality in both the backdrops and characters. The little comic nuances are a nice touch too, particularly the drunk birds at the bar. One side note, the dialogue is... interesting, to say the least. The writers of the game felt that everything needed to rhyme. As a result, it presents choices that aren't always the greatest. Still, its effect is better than most. Child of Light is a magnificently balanced role-playing adventure. It has everything most players are looking for: a battle system that won't drive you mad, a gorgeous presentation, and a decent challenge (especially at higher difficulty settings). This could easily be one of Ubisoft's best games of the year. Final Score: 8 out of 10.
This review is based on a downloadable PlayStation 4 code provided by the publisher. Child of Light is available now for Xbox 360, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, Wii U and PC. The game has been rated E10.

Robert Workman was previously a games journalist creating content at Shacknews.

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