The Average Gamer

Child of Light Hands-On Preview

Child of Light was the second new game that impressed me at the recent Ubisoft Digital Day. This may well be because I sat in a queue for two hours to see it, missing out on a bunch of other games and I was damn well going to be impressed if it killed me.

It’s pretty. You’re a fairy. Here’s a picture.

Child of Light Screenshot - Aurora and Ingniculus

That glowy ball with the adorable face is Igniculus. He’s the companion to Aurora and you can either switch to him for puzzles, or have a friend playing him in co-op. Igniculus can let off a bright flash to temporarily blind enemies – handy if you just want to flit past a spider in the caves instead of wasting time on combat every 10 metres.

Combat itself is similar to turn-based JRPGs – the two sides face off against each other while a timer for each character run downs to indicate when their chosen action will take place. Igniculus helps out here too. Your co-op companion can have him hover over Aurora to speed up her action meter or over her enemies to slow them down.

Child of Light Screenshot - ShadowsHe can also emit enough light cast shadows. One of the puzzles I saw required us to cast the right shapes over markings on a wall, so this may well be a crucial skill.

Child of Light is described as “as reimagining of classic fairytales”. Your main character Aurora was a child who fell ill and has woken up in another world with the ability to fly and a propensity to speak in rhyme. Written by Jeffrey Yohalem, the style is a long way from his previous game at Ubisoft, Far Cry 3. “The script is written in verse, largely in ballad form, said Yohalem. “It’s exciting and challenging to work within such a rigid structure.

“They both are coming-of-age stories set in dream worlds. The worlds themselves are very different, but the journey is one of self-discovery. We wanted to tell a different kind of story than a first-person shooter would allow. Try to create a new experience.”

Patrick Plourde, creative director on the game, wanted to tell a story that would resonate more with women. “There’s a serious lack of representation of strong female leads in games and I feel we can make a difference,” he said.

“Fairy tales’ strong use of symbols makes them universal and open to be reinterpreted. The idea is to use those symbols that live in our collective ‘DNA’ and to spin them in a tale that feels modern: An active heroine, no prince charming at the end, focused on the idea that we need to grow up, leave home and take responsibility to make a change in the world.”

As you progress, Aurora will level up and earn points to spend on her skill tree in traditional RPG way. That said, Child of Light isn’t really built for character choices. They way the skill tree and combat has been designed, you won’t be able to specialise in, say, fire attacks. In keeping with the linear story, you’ll instead be unlocking and upgrading each of her elements in turn to suit the next round of encounters.

Child of Light - Aurora Village Child of Light - Aurora Combat

I could talk about the beauty of the art style and the hopeful yet haunting music. Frankly, you’re better off seeing it for yourself. Here’s the launch trailer.

Child of Light will be coming to PS4, PS3, Xbox One, Xbox 360, PC and Wii U in 2014.