PAX East 2014: Child of Light is still beautiful
You may recall earlier this month we had a fairly lengthy preview of Child of Light thanks to a media-only preview event. My time with Ubisoft's fairy tale RPG was not nearly as controlled, as it was just a public demo playable by all PAX East attendees.
This was my first time playing Child of Light, and though the frantic show floor of PAX East doesn't make for an optimal play environment. it didn't make my experience with the game any less enjoyable. Even with just 20-or-so minutes of hands-on time with the game I got a pretty decent idea of what Child of Light has to offer: stunningly beautiful artwork, a poetic presentation, and surprisingly difficult combat.
With no Ubisoft representative on hand to guide me, I was kind of just dropped into the game -- into some chapter called "The Deep Dark Well." I had to go into a magical well to find a cure for some cursed birds, or something like that. Though I'm sure the story is quite good, I can't really comment too much on it as I was kind of thrown in. I do know that you play as Aurora, a young girl who falls ill, awakens in what she believes is a dream world, and sets out to find her missing father.
Child of Light has some of the finest presentation I've seen. Though it's build using UbiArt Framework, the same engine used for the Rayman games, Child of Light has a very distinct, hand-painted look to it. It still has that whimsical charm, but it's noticeably darker in tone.
Again, I can't comment too much on the story, but the narration and character lines were delivered in rhymes. It had a very poetic feel to it, and even though I had no idea what was really happening in the story, it seems like it has storybook potential.
But Child of Light is more than just poetry and artwork. Underneath its beauty is a finely tuned combat system reminiscent of Final Fantasy's Active-Time Battle System. At the bottom of the screen is a meter that indicates when you can perform an offensive or defensive move, each move with an associated action time. Defending will allow the enemy to strike first, but your block will result in considerably less damage taken. If you choose to attack, but the enemy gets the first hit, your move will be interrupted and you'll have to wait longer. Using your sprite companion Igniculus you can blind your enemies and delay their next move.
At this point, I should also mention that, like Rayman, Child of Light can be played with a buddy. The second player controls Igniculus, collecting blue orbs and using that to either heal your characters or blind the enemies. When not in combat, the second player can use Igniculus to fly around and blind enemies on the map, helping you avoid them. It's important to note that all of these actions are still available to you if you are playing alone -- you just control Igniculus with the right thumbstick.
Even though my time with Child of Light was limited, it was enjoyable nonetheless. Child of Light will be available for download on April 30, 2014. It's coming to Xbox One, PS4, Xbox 360, PS3, Wii U, and PC for $14.99.