Some games show up with little hype and stun gamers through tremendous innovation (e.g. Portal) or an unforgettable experience (e.g. Journey, Limbo, Braid). Other games get dangerously close to this level of prestige but fall just short due to a few poor decisions. This is the story the latter. Here’s our review of Child of Light.
Child of Light is the game that got away. When it arrived back in 2014 we always intended to check it out but then things like MGSV or Witcher 3 got in the way. We’d hover our cursor over it when it went on flash sales on Steam or PSN but never made the commitment until recently. Consider this our loss as Child of Light is actually a great experience.
You play as the aforementioned child, Aurora, who (brief SPOILERS) dies as the game begins but wakes up in Lemuria, basically purgatory drawn in sweeping water colors. It isn’t long before you pick up stragglers to join your merry posse as you seek to find the wiz…eh track down missing celestial bodies at the request of the good witch… eh Lady of the Forest.
Gameplay is an interesting mix of light weight 2d platforming (in that you basically float anywhere you want to go having to watch out the occasional spiky wall) and turn based RPG style combat. You have a lot of options though during these fights. All characters (your team and the enemies) all must charge up before they can act and even then there’s a delay as they “Cast” their move. Light attacks “Cast” almost immediately while more advanced moves or massive spells will take a long time. If you hit someone during this “Cast” time, you reset their move completely. Meaning your best move at times may be to simply stagger a powerful enemy with a puny attack just to avoid whatever catastrophic spell they are attempting to cast. This mechanic brings a fantastic strategic element to these fights as you’re not just playing your hand – you have to play against the enemy’s next move as well.
The game is compelling to play and certainly beautiful at times but does grate on the nerves with one bizarre concept. Everything rhymes. Every character exchange must end in a rhyme, which sounds fun but quickly, QUICKLY grows old. It’s disappointing because the game is actually quite fun but the character exchanges come so frequently that we got used to skipping right through them and, thusly, missed out on some of the story. The game is great when the story doesn’t get in the way.
What works well
We enjoyed the turn based combat so much that we opted to fight every single monster we could. The game’s art, especially the backgrounds, can be distractingly good as well.
What doesn’t work well
The narrative is weak and the character exchanges get old fast so be prepared to mash the button to skip ahead. We should mention the game isn’t very hard but we also did over level perhaps as we fought everything we possibly could.
Overall: Good but skippable
We’re glad to have finally seen this one and would recommend it if you have a rainy weekend coming up but don’t go out of your way to find it.
Weird fact: the game features voices from Steve Carell, Dolph Lundgren, Sandra Bullock, Emily Watson, and Rachel Weisz but we really had no idea until we researched the game for this review.