Child of Light Review (PS4)

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Developer/Publisher: Ubisoft Montreal

(This Review is based on the PS4 Version and is available for PC, PS3, PS Vita, Wii U, Xbox 360 and Xbox One)

RPG’s have evolved tremendously over the years. Combat has become quicker, robust character customization has allowed for all manner of playstyles and the journeys players partake in have become grander and power fantasy fulfilling. But an integral aspect of the genre has been slightly abandoned with the RPG’s evolution. The ability to submerge a player in a RPG’s world has lost its effect as more RPG’s seek for greater graphics and many gameplay systems and mechanics.

Child of Light is a perfect example of a game representing traditional story telling in RPG’s to highlight how the genre is able to submerge a player in a story. In a role playing game, RPG’s are sometimes called JRPG’s. (Japanese Role Playing Game) This is because players can be in the role of a character or express their own character.

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Child of Light is a JRPG because the player is in the role of a set non changeable character, with story being the main player engagement. It is one of the best RPG’s the gaming world has seen because of its fully realised presentation and accessible combat system. The observation of the game’s retelling of Cinderella will reveal that classic and traditional story telling methods of novels and RPG’s are interwoven in Child of Light’s design.

Story

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A kingdom’s Duke has fallen ill after marrying a new wife. His daughter Aurora falls asleep under a coma and “Her skin was cold as snow.”  Aurora awakens in a world not her own and encounters a Lady of The Forest, who gifts her with pixie wings to fly.  With this gift, Aurora begins her journey to become a queen.

Child of Light takes the story elements of Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella, both written by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm and takes advantage of the JRPG’s typical story arc of good vs evil, to create a story that is refreshing in a genre that often has overly convoluted plots. The loss of Aurora’s mother for her father to then find a new wife takes inspiration from Cinderella who grieves for her deceased mother. The coma state of Aurora and the Duke’s kingdom facing the danger of a flood is inspired by Sleeping Beauty falling into slumber and the castle she resides in falling into the same slumber. Finally, the gift of pixie wings by the forest maiden is a parallel to Cinderella being gifted a dress of silk and sliver by birds of nature.

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The use of inspiration from these two fairy tales, coupled with the mystic and fantasy ascetic of the game takes the genre back to why people value JRPG’s to begin with. JRPG’s when they became relevant with the original Final Fantasy in 1987, amazed players with how they were engaged with the world they explored and the journey they took in saving it from evil. RPG’s have been successful in making players feel fulfillment in crafting the character they play as, but having the player engrossed in the world they venture through is why RPG’s are one of the most popular genres in video games.

“I”: Quote from Child of Light’s introductory cutscene that plays when starting the game.

Gameplay

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Child of Light has the most casual, beginner friendly combat system of any RPG, with a strong layer of strategy behind it straight forward exterior. This strategy comes from the time line battle system and the crafting system. In battle, an action is executed when the player or enemy reaches the end of the timeline.

Aurora’s companion Igniculus can slow down enemies by pressing L1 while hovering over them. These mechanics result in battles where victory is decided by how the player can take advantage of the timeline, rather than having the highest stats. Gems that are found in treasure chests and being dropped from battles, can be equipped to have an elemental attack, defense against an elemental attack or simply increase a character’s attributes. These gems can be enhanced by combing them and the simple execution lets anyone easily grasp the possibilitys and shape their team to cope with any battle situation. To top it all off, experience is plentiful and stops from the player from needlessly grinding and makes the journey smooth sailing and concise.

Presentation

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The retelling of Cinderella is one of Child of Light’s strengths, but the artistry and music is its magnum opus. Every location has intricate detail with soft, masterful layers of tone and light. This amazing level of graphical detail is taken to profound heights by a moving soundtrack. The instrumental piece that plays in the beginning of chapter 5 creates a mood of mystic wonder with pounding drums enforcing the trials Aurora will soon face and the urgency of saving her father from his illness.

Value

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Child of Light by HiroUsuda, Deviantart

http://hirousuda.deviantart.com/art/Child-of-Light-451785879

It’s rare for a game like Child of Light to have such an eternal aesthetic. It has a perfect fantasy presentation, solid approachable combat and brilliant utilization of fairy tale classics to allow the RPG genre to rediscover why people adore it in the first place. The world the player can become engrossed in likely evokes the same feeling of wonder players had when they played the original Final Fantasy all the way back in 1987.

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