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Child of Light Review: a work of art come to life

on 16 May 2014

Never in my wildest dreams did I believe a video game could make me believe it was more than just a game. That is, until I played Child of Light. The RPG-platformer's familiar but moving story is brought to life by some of the most exquisite art design I've ever witnessed in game, a moving musical score, and a turn-based combat system that is not only easy to grasp but hard to master. Indeed, Child of Light can only be described as a work of art.

The game's story follows a young girl named Aurora who sets off to return to her home to save her ailing father and liberate the kingdom of Lemuria from the "Queen of the Night," who has stolen Lemuria's sun, moon, and stars. Though this story may sound familiar to anyone who has read any fairy tales, its presentation is both welcome and refreshing. Written in verse and rhyme, all the characters speak as if they were in a playable poem reminding me of old Shakespearean plays. On her quest, Aurora encounters plenty of colorful characters that join her party and tell their own magical story. The most important of these characters is Igniculus, a small firefly sent to help Aurora on her quest.

The first thing players will notice about Child of Light is its captivating and gorgeous hand-drawn graphics. Ubisoft's own Ubi-Art engine has created a living, breathing world with superb animation. Aurora moves with grace and speed as she runs through the 2D environment, while her hair and dress flow gracefully in the wind as she flies with her fairy wings. The game's art itself looks as if it was created by Final Fantasy's own Yo****aka Amano, whose art was used as an inspiration for Child of Light's own aesthetics, so much so that Amano-san himself drew a promotional poster of the title.

Child of Light's combat system is presented as a turn-based role-playing game. When entering combat, a timeline bar will be displayed on the bottom of the screen, which features an icon for both the player's party and enemies. The timeline itself consists of a blue "wait" gauge and a red "cast" gauge. When the icons reach the red "cast" gauge, players will be able to act; it is here that gamers will have to utilize strategy for the fastest and easiest victory. If players are attacked while in the "cast" phase, their attacks will be interrupted and they will be moved back on the timeline. This can also be utilized by the player to knock enemies back into the timeline, giving the party more time to act.

Igniculus becomes extremely important in combat. Players are able to control Igniculus with the right analog stick, moving him around the battle screen. Igniculus has two major abilities he is able to utilize. The first is hovering over one of the party members and healing them with the press of the R2 button, while the other is to use his glowing light to blind enemies, slowing them down on the timeline and allowing you just enough time to slip ahead of your opponents. But these abilities can't be spammed, as Ingiculus has his own usage bar that depletes the more his abilities are used. It's also worth noting that Ingiculus can be controlled by another player in local co-op.