Game review - Child of Light - Xbox One (reviewed) / Playstation 4 / Xbox 360 / Playstation 3 / Wii U / PC
Score - 8.6 / 10
Indeed, the CV of Plourde, the title’s creative director, encompasses some of the biggest and brashest series from the studio over the past decade, including Assassin’s Creed, the Rainbow Six Vegas games and Far Cry 3.
As a longtime fan of Japanese RPGs, however, he assembled a small team to work on his labour of love. It was, he reflected, to be “a game that had a different kind of rhythm.”
Although Child of Light is a beguiling showcase for the graphical technology developed for its Rayman strand, Ubisoft deserve praise for giving Plourde such freedom. The result is a game of lyrical beauty, thoughtful mechanics and a uniformly enchanting tone. At times, it teeters on the verge of greatness, but is ultimately let down by an undemanding degree of difficulty.
Charting a narrative inspired by legions of fairy tales, the script takes the form of an epic poem, a concept that could easily have come across as trite in the wrong hands. Plourde and his team, however, strike the right balance; the player is cast adrift in a distant fantastical world, yet the dialogue is playful and at times self-referential (one character, for instance, stubbornly refuses to utter his phrases in rhyme).
The art director, Thoma Rollus, has concocted a realm inspired by art nouveau and riffs on the work of illustrators like Arthur Rackham and John Baeuer. Cumulatively, the visuals - comprising illustrations and 3D and 2D animations - are graceful and fluid.
As the game progresses, there is sufficient change to keep the eye interested, but throughout the entire experience, a haunting, ethereal theme ties the whole package together.
Delightful, but easy, gameplay
The co-operative gameplay, both inside the turn-based combat system and outside of it, is a delight. Whether taking charge of the young protagonist, Aurora, or Igniculus, the glowing orb who helps illuminate her treacherous journey, two players work in harmony. The former is able to glide around the world while the latter helps light her path, thwart enemies and solve puzzles.
In combat, the novelty of having to time your attacks and counters, whether through physical strikes or magic, is well thought-out. Sadly, the foes you encounter are all too easily vanquished, undermining the interesting mechanics and levelling up tree - a few hours into the game, you realise that you will nearly always succeed, irrespective of who you choose from your party to fight, or the powers at their disposal.