PLAY THIS: Child of Light

Introducing a new weekly segment called PLAY THIS. This series is intended to let you know about games that may have slipped under your radar. We’ll be covering a variety of platforms and price ranges, the only stipulation being that the game in question has to be a recent release.

Child of Light, at its core, is a fairy tale. The art, score and narrative all blend together seamlessly to tell the story of Aurora, a princess who falls into a deep sleep and must rescue Lemuria from an encroaching darkness before she can go back home.

The game looks and moves like a watercolour painting. Aurora’s hair looks like paint strokes and floats easily in the wind. She is accompanied by a firefly, Igniculus, whose light pulses softly in the distance. As they pass by, plants and trees quiver and sway in the wind. Dark creatures go bump in the night. It’s as if someone breathed life into a picture book and it became a game. Child of Light goes above and beyond to create beauty in every nook and cranny of the world.

Not wanting to settle for second best, Cœur de Pirate pulled out all the stops for the game’s sound. It complements and sometimes even overwhelms the visuals of the game with a score that ranges from sweeping crescendo, to childlike wonder, to a muted dirge and then celebration. It so perfectly encapsulates every moment. The game is best appreciated in a dimly lit room with your headphones on high, if only so you can be scared out of your pants by a monster’s fittingly jarring screech.

Gameplay takes a backseat to beauty in Child of Light but is enjoyable nonetheless. The active turn-based combat rewards strategy and careful timing. Upgrades are doled out regularly in the form of skill points and stat boosting dusts and gems. Puzzles are cute but aren’t particularly challenging, most are revolving around Igniculus and his ability to set off switches and cast shadows with his glow. The world is a joy to explore, both because of the artwork and the ability to find hidden chests and other goodies.

What will really determine your enjoyment of Child of Light is the story, which I particularly loved. We follow our pugnacious heroine Aurora through this dream world that borders on comforting and nightmarish, searching for the moon and stars. The entire affair is conducted through rhyming verse, which is whimsy when it works and tiring if it doesn’t. I appreciated this distinctive way of writing narrative which happened to sound even better when it voiced. Above that, Aurora’s companions are just so cute, from Igniculus to Oengus, they were a joy to have around.

Playing Child of Light will warm your heart. The game unifies all of its parts to succeed in creating something that can touch many. That is why it’s this week’s most recommended pick. Child of Light is available on Steam, PSN, and Xbox Live for $15. Do yourself a favor and pick up this unique platformer-hybrid, at least to tell Ubisoft that they’re doing the right thing.

 

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