I can’t remember the last game that put a smile on my face. That’s not to say I’m dead inside, and don’t feel happy playing most games, but Child of Light hit a chord of jubilation that simultaneous brought waves of nostalgia while fulfilling a longing I’ve had for these games of yore. Child of Light is everything I want in an RPG, but haven’t found since Final Fantasy X.
Japanese RPGs (JRPGs) have been in a funk for quite some time. While there’s been a resurgence as of late with games like Tales of Xillia or The Last Story, the last console generation has seen almost a complete absence from the once beloved genre. Child of Light, though created by French developer Ubisoft, is by fair the best offering the genre’s had in quiet some time while adding several unique ideas, making it a must play for any lapsed or current fan.
The graphics are in the unique in house art style Ubisoft has been defining as of late with games like Rayman or Valiant Hearts. This whimsical water color look only adds to the fairytale like nature of the story. Make no mistake, this is a fairytale. All the text is in iambic pentameter, with every other line rhyming, most of the time. The narration and even character dialogue adhere to this format, adding to the atmosphere. Most of it works, with only the occasional line falling flat. The concept is played with, having one character ending his speech with a synonym of the rhyme, and the others correcting him. This only adds to the fun.
Characters are equally important along side of story, and Child of Light as a plethora. The game opens with Aurora, Princess of Austria, dying, and waking up in a strange land called Lemuria. I loved this change up. While this does follow the typical JRPG cliche of saving the world, the main character is a princess that’s more than capable of taking care of herself. Once she received her fairy wings, granting her flight, I couldn’t stop smiling. Soon, others join here, including a firefly called Igniculus, who is a vital part of the game, both in and out of combat.
The third part of a good JRPG is the battle system. Thankfully, this has one of the most complex and fun combat systems, hidden in the veneer of simplicity. Only two characters can be brought into battle, with Igniculus in tow, and only two – three enemies opposing. The meter at the bottom of the screen governs the pace, where characters wait until selecting an action (attack, item, swap character). Here is where the depth comes in. Upon selecting an action, you are in cast time. Every attack has a different cast time, with more powerful attacks taking longer. Attack an enemy while casting , called an interrupt, causes it loses its turn, pushing it back on the timeline. The same could happen to you as well though. See an impending attack? Defend, avoiding interruption with a rapid recharge. Igniculus plays a roll too. Alighting him over enemies slows their pace to a crawl.
It has been some time since I’ve played through an RPG of any sort, and not for lack of worthy titles. The time commitment, something in short supply for me, is usually the biggest hurdle. Taking only 12 hours to complete, Child of Light fit perfectly. The sidequests provided value to their completion while not tediously adding a checklist to increase play time. This is a tight game with enough depth to satisfy any are looking for a solid experience.
Though not coming from Japan, Child of Light is the best JRPG I’ve played in years. A perfect marriage of story, character, and gameplay, this not only adds its own uniqueness to the muddled genre, but adopts modern sensibilities, namely, a tight gaming experience. This is easily in contention for my game of the year.
Who was in your battle party? Was this a Goldilocks game for you (just right)? Comment below.
Craft a diamond and equip it to your defense slot ASAP.