Many of the big name publishers in gaming are starting to create experiences that are geared toward gamers with small attention spans. A lot of what’s produced are quick fixes and shells of their console versions. Thankfully, Ubisoft has identified that they have a great gaming engine, UbiArt Framework, that can translate to unique and fresh gaming intellectual properties. One of their first original efforts, Child of Light, is a charming and magical reminder of everything that’s right in gaming.
There’s not a lot out there that play like Child of Light. Calling it a 2D platformer wouldn’t be appropriate, because our protagonist gracefully flies through her 2D world. There’s no timed jumping like the big-named UbiArt Framework-powered Rayman game before it. Aurora, our red-headed heroine, flies through the screen and unlocks entrances and solves quick puzzles to get from one area to the next. She is followed around by a light-based companion, Igniculus, similar to Navi from Ocarina of Time. Igniculus can be controlled by the Wii U GamePad touch screen to light pathways, retrieve items, click light switches, and light up shadows and silhouettes to solve puzzles.
When Aurora encounters an enemy, a turn-based role-playing game (RPG) screen pops up and two of her party members fight anywhere from two to three enemies at-a-time. Each individual character stands on their own little isolated cliffs with a spotlight to target your physical attacks, magic, and items. A timing meter is available at the bottom of each screen and allow for the player to interrupt enemies if they’re in “Casting” mode. Igniculus can be used to charge ally HP and slow down enemy move meters.
Leveling up each character gives them one skill point that can be used to acquire upgraded move sets. Up to three different tracks of move sets are available to each character in the party. This is a smart and intuitively transactional way to change up the RPG elements by identifying the gamer’s right to choose the strategy that best first them.
The game is meant to be a quick fix and is meant to be a 5- to 10-hour gaming experience. With that in mind, gamers will find themselves looking for every secret passageway like the 2D Mario games of the 8-bit and 16-bit era. Finding new areas leads to breathtaking artistic visuals, as well as, the payoff of a power-up. There’s a hint of Metroidvania backtracking and Aurora herself may also change appearance in like Samus powers up her suit. The writing is presented in poetry as dialogue between characters have rhyming rhythms between them.
Ubisoft games are synonymous with great art direction and Child of Light is no different in that regard. What is different is that, while it uses the Rayman engine, the art style is unique and beautiful. It’s much less Rayman and more akin to Muramasa: The Demon Blade with blooming trees, flickering flames, streaming winds, and glacial blue ice. The game is simply stunning to look at. Equally as impressive as the visuals is the animation. Ubisoft Montpellier employed the use of motion capturing Cirque Du Soleil performers and it really shows in this game. Aurora has the grace of an acrobatic ballerina as she soars from one area to the next. Enemy movements are methodical and non-threatening, but are necessary. After all, how does one gain skill points in an RPG? Finally, there’s an emphasis in the animation on Aurora’s flowing red hair. The wind flows through her hair and it’s beautifully animated throughout based on her environmental and flight physics.
The soundtrack and environmental effects are ear-pleasing. There are some effects that may be out of place as you turn up the volume on your television, but it’s minor compared to the audio journey that you embark on. There’s some voice acting, but most of the dialogue is read in unforced poetic rhymes. For more on the soundtrack, watch the video below.
Overall Rating: A
Unique artistic graphics powered by the UbiArt Framework engine, great writing, an orchestral and formidable soundtrack, animation based on graceful Cirque Du Soleil performers, and it’s all packaged together nicely for $15. This game is a gateway RPG for gamers who want an introduction to the genre, as well as the veteran RPG gamer looking for something quick and fresh at 5 to 10 hours to decompress between games. Like Rayman before it, Ubisoft Montpellier has coded this gem with a lot of love. This one deserves your $15 and it’s currently the download only game to own on the Wii U. Do yourself a favor and head to your Nintendo e-Shop to pick this one up!
Child of Light is also available to other consoles as a download as well.
Check out the video below on the making of the game for more background on this beautiful game.
Source: Screen Captures from Miiverse user Island_Gamer (me) and the Nintendo’s YouTube Channel