April is just around the corner and so is the next Games with Gold. For April there’s an Easter treat waiting – double the games!
For Xbox One owners there’s Pool Nation FX and Child of Light, while 360 owners double up for four new games. Gears of War Judgment and Terraria will be available from April 1, and from April 16 Assassin’s Creed Black Flag and Army of Two The Devil’s Cartel will be free to Xbox Live Gold members.
That will certainly keep some of you busy for April!
Just every now and then, a game comes out that truly stands out against the usual game releases across all platforms. It is not often that such a game is capable to distract from the generic shooting, fighting, sports filled release schedule but Ubisoft have managed to almost sneak one game out there that does just that. Child Of Light is one of the most refreshingly breathtaking games I have played in many years.
Child of Light was developed by Ubisoft Montreal and is an example of their UbiArt framework. Using gameplay mechanics from traditional JRPG’s such as the early Final Fantasy titles and a visual style of a water colour painting, Child of Light uses verse and poetry to tell the story of main character Aurora, who finds herself in the magical kingdom of Lemuria. On her quest to return home to her father the King, Aurora must defeat the Queen of the Night who has stolen the Sun, Moon and Stars.
Two things immediately hit you as soon as you hit the main menu. The music and its visual style. The music is one of the most outstanding soundtracks and musical scores I have heard for an XBLA level game. The ethereal music almost works as a calming lullaby as you prepare to enter this fairy tale world. Throughout the story, the music blends in with the flow of the game and really helps to bring the world of Lemuria to life and working in such a great partnership with the visual style of the world. The water coloured style gives the world such life, as though it has been taken off the very pages of a fairy tale book. The look of each character and the locations within the game are vibrant and striking. Even the subtle animation style of Aurora’s hair as she moves has been delicately done to add some movement to the 2D drawings. The use of poetry and rhyme to tell the story is novel and keeps the sense of playing through a fair tale really well. Each character dialogue and the narration for cut-scenes is done in rhyme, giving the conversations a natural flow from beginning to end. To represent the characters, conversations take on a talking heads format as each character appears on screen and facial expressions used to show the emotion behind the words spoken.
Aurora is quickly joined on her adventure by a second character, the blue firefly Igniculus. He is player controlled using the right analogue stick and can be used to activate switches to help move past obstacles or to help solve puzzles needed to progress. It is a very quirky gameplay addition to have control of two characters at the same time but it is also an ingenious way of adding something special to the basic control system used. Igniculus also has a role to play in the combat system of the game but will come to that later on. Igniculus can also be controlled by a second player for local co-op play.
As the story unfolds, you meet other characters who will join you to form a party of characters. Each party member can then me selected during combat by hot switching them in and out depending on how you need to use them. Each character had a different skill set. Rubella, the circus performer, is great in combat and has the ability to cast healing spells. Finn the Capilli uses more elemental based magic attacks. You can keep the party the same but only two can be used in combat, so trying out different pairings will help as the level of enemy increases further into the game. Every member of the party will earn experience points via combat whether you use them or not. Experience points can be used to increase health and magic levels as well as enhancing magic spells, attack moves and defensive options and each character has their own skill tree which are easy to follow for the player to pick the right upgrades for the character and their playing style.
With their own version of Materia from Final Fantasy, Child of Light uses Oculi. Oculi are gemstones that can enhance characters further then their natural leveling up with experience points. Each type of Oculi has a different effect. The Blue Sapphire for example, can give extra water elemental damage to attacks, give water attack damage resistance or can give a higher chance of avoiding an attack during their casting time. The Red Ruby will give extra fire elemental damage to attacks, added resistance to Fire damage or increase health points. Oculi can also be used to create more powerful types, three Blue Sapphire created a Faceted Sapphire which add greater Water damage or protection depending on how you use it. Combining a Sapphire with a ruby will create a Amthyst stone which can increase physical attacks or reduce physical damage. The creation system is simple to use, Oculi are obtained from exploring the world and opening chests or rewards for successful combat encounters.
The combat for Child of Light is an amazing take on the JRPG style of turn based combat. When in battle, your party will be on the left side of the screen, and the enemy on the right. Whilst you can only use two party members in combat, Igniculus actually acts as a third member is a very useful way. Combat uses a timebar at the bottom of the screen. About 90% of the bar represents waiting time before a character has a move. The final 10% is the Casting time, the time it takes for the command you chose, either potion use, an attack, a defensive move or use of magic to be executed. An edge to this method is that attacks can interrupt both move or casting time, pushing the character back along the time bar and even cancelling out the casting time. Igniculus comes into play very much in battle. You can guide him over to an enemy, using his ability to shine light and distract that enemy causing their progression on the time bar to reduce allowing your move cycle to overtake.
The combat is much deeper then it appears on the surface and some challenging battles later on will require using the right pairing, Oculi enhancement and skill tree use. It is one of the cleverest combat systems I have seen in an RPG, and it is one that bigger budget AAA title RPG’s could learn from Child of Light. It is how such a deceptively rewarding combat system underneath the beauty of the musical score and visuals that all give Child of Light such a big impact as a game.
Child of Light is as rewarding to play as it is to just experience. Some games are capable of being used as example to show how Video Game truly has become an art form, and Child of Light is now one of the finest examples of it. Through the narrative style of using verse and rhyme to tell the story to the musical score and art style of drawing, Child of Light blends all these elements into a game that is refreshing to play on just about every level. Its XBLA level should not take away just how impressive a job Ubisoft Montreal have done here. It is the kind of digital content that Xbox should encourage more developers to follow with going forward. Child of Light is going to be collecting awards at the end of the year, and it will place among the big AAA hitters of 2014 and rightly so. This has to go on everyone playlist for this year, it is just that amazing an experience it needs to be showcased for just how good a game Ubisoft have worked on. As a publisher and developer, Ubisoft has once again shown its ability to deliver high quality games of different genres and not just high profile big name full release titles. Child of Light is a glowing example of the beauty in story telling and experience video gaming can provide.
Thanks to Ubisoft UK for providing the code for this review.
The UBIart framework has powered some of the finest 2D visuals in all of gaming, as demonstrated in Rayman Origins and Rayman Legends. What happens when a team sets out to make a JRPG using this engine? The result is the unique Child of Light, now available on Xbox One and Xbox 360.
Child of Light’s includes a number of clear JRPG elements. Battle revolves around a timing mechanic similar to classic Final Fantasy’s now classic Active Time Battle system. It is a nod back to the original JRPG games of the past with a beautiful and distinctive art style that is just breathtaking to see on screen.
Child of Light is available from the Xbox Store for £11.99, it has a Free Trial as well to give you a taste of what the game has to offer.
Watch how Aurora has been imagined and designed. Discover in this making of what the story of Child of Light has been inspired from! Dive into the Ubisoft Montreal Studio and discover development team and artists who brought this playable poem to life.
Child of Light is the transformation journey of Aurora, a young princess who woke up in the world of Lemuria. She has to face with her destiny in an epic quest to find the Sun, the Moon and the Stars stolen by the Dark Queen.
Travel with Aurora in the World of Lemuria, where amazing adventures await! Discover fairytale landscapes in a magical world. Following Aurora in her quest to save the kingdom of Lemuria by bringing back the three sources of Light.
Oh, to explore the wilds of a land unseen
To come away to a place far bigger than a dream.
Discover how Yoshitaka Amano contributed to Child of Light by creating this amazing artwork!
Child of Light will be released for both Xbox 360 and Xbox One this year. An JRPG, visually this game is rather stunning, a blend of puzzle solving and classic JRPG turn based fighting, Child of Light can also be played in Co-Op with a friend.
Follow Aurora in the Magical world of Lemuria and Brianna Code, lead programmer on Child of Light as she presents different aspects of the game including gameplay, the world around you and the skill tree.
Child of Light is a re-imagining of classic fairy-tales, inviting players on an epic adventure into the magical painted world of Lemuria. Players will uncover mysteries, participate in turn-by-turn combat inspired by classic JRPGs, and explore the mystical kingdom.
Child of Light will be released on Xbox One at a yet to be released date.
Ubisoft have announced today that Child of Light will be released for Xbox 360 and Xbox One in 2014. An JRPG, visually this game is rather stunning, a blend of puzzle solving and classic JRPG turn based fighting, Child of Light also be played in Co-Op with a friend.
Ubisoft gave a taste of the game’s Story:
The Black Queen has stolen the Sun, the Moon and the Stars. You play as Aurora, a young princess with a pure heart whose soul is brought to the kingdom of Lemuria. Embark on a quest to recapture the three sources of light, defeat the Black Queen and restore the kingdom of Lemuria.