For a game that was released in 2014, Child of Light still holds up very well in today’s game market. It is a pretty game with a captivating story and thematic music. I didn’t know much about the game as I had only watched the trailer, but I was quickly enamored by the characters and story that you find yourself in.
Child of Light is put into the genre of platform role-playing, which I do not have much experience with. Therefore, I may not know much of the traditional terminology associated with the genre. There will be story spoilers in this review, so if you wish to remain spoiler-free, feel free to skip the story portion of the review. Additionally, I will not be going over the co-op mechanics of the game as I have no experience with them, but there is integration for them in the game. The majority of character details and combat will be discussed in my tips and tricks article, which will be available soon.
Aurora, a bright-faced young girl awakens in a strange land (Lemuria), not knowing where she is or how she got there. You come to find a firefly named Igniculus who accompanies you for your journey. He will light your way, slow down monsters, and aid you in your adventure. Aurora meets the Lady of the Forest and discovers that the way home is past Umbra, the Black Queen. Umbra has a mirror in her possession that links to Aurora’s homeland of Austria. Aurora must defeat Umbra in order to acquire the mirror and return to Austria, where her father’s health is failing. The Lady of the Forest gives Aurora a pair of wings, allowing her easier passage of the land, and a flute and tells her that she must go find the moon and the stars.
Along the way she meets a diverse party of adventurers that join her. All of them have their own unique stories, differences, and abilities. With the help of her party, Aurora finds her step-sister Norah and they continue on their quest to get home. Later in the game, Aurora goes into the mirror with Norah and leaves her friends behind. Aurora then finds out that Norah (Nox) is actually evil, and that her other step-sister Cordilia (Crepusculum), and her step-mother Umbra (the Black Queen) have plotted against her and her father this whole time. They were planning on taking over the kingdom and were behind the mysterious illness that Aurora’s father had. Umbra tries to kill Aurora but the crown her father gave her saves her with its magical power.
Since the Black Queen cannot kill Aurora, she locks her and her allies in the dungeons. Aurora finds her allies, and an additional one on her way out of the prison. After defeating Crepusculum and gaining the moon back, the party departs towards the sea. They recruit another party member and go beneath the sea to get the sun back from Nox. After this fight the Black Queen appears and shows Aurora a visage of her father and tries to make a trade. If Aurora will give the Black Queen the stars and the moon she will save her father. Aurora says that she is not able to betray the citizens of Lemuria and rejects her offer. The king (Aurora’s father) dies and the crown he gave her disappears as well.
Since the crown’s magic is gone, the Black Queen strikes Aurora who is able to grab the sun and fling herself into a rising waterfall just before she dies. Fireflies carry her body to the Lady of the Forest who plays the flute and brings Aurora back from death. Through the light in the hearts of Aurora’s allies, the stars, the sun and the moon she is resurrected. There is a short reunion for Aurora with her mother, the Queen of Light, before Aurora travels to the castle to defeat the Black Queen once and for all. After winning, Aurora goes back through the mirror to Austria, where the citizens are about to drown due to a flood. She leads them all back to Lemuria through the mirror and saves them. Lemuria grows and thus ends the story.
Sound and Visuals
The world of Lemuria is beautiful. There are lush forests, rushing waterfalls, dark caverns, and windy villages. Each race in the game lives in a different place that is diverse in colors and shapes. The game is two dimensional but the depth of the layers made it seem a lot more visual than a traditional platformer. In the world there is a layer in the foreground that is between the player and Aurora, the level that Aurora traveling on, and the background. Interestingly enough, Aurora’s, Norah’s, and the Queen of Light’s hair all appeared three dimensional, and seemed to have a movement to it unlike anything else in the game. The contrast of Aurora’s bright red hair, Norah’s stunning white hair, and the Queen of Light’s bright blonde hair against a somewhat muted background made for an interesting visual.
The soundtrack changes depending on the place you’re currently in. It is dynamic; if you are in a fight it keeps you on edge, and if there is a calm moment, the music is light and airy. Another unique aspect of the game is that the character dialogue is all in rhyme. Igniculus often tries to rhyme the lines together if someone has missed the opportunity. I found this aspect of the game to be endearing and it often left a smile on my face.
The characters’ reactions were another interesting part of the game. There were facial expressions with most of the characters’ dialogue. When a character is low on health, the character will droop as if they are tired, and when Igniculus is out of his energy he will frown.
Another great aspect of the world was seeing the character development of your whole party. Everyone has an individual quest they need help with, and everyone has their own pros and cons. Aurora matures on her journey as well. When she absorbs the moon she appears to grow taller and grows older. After she is resurrected she appears to become a woman, her hair is longer, her dress is less child-like, and she has a bigger crown. She is a humble princess but one that continues to grow throughout the game.
Throughout the game you will find some light puzzles that you will have to use Igniculus’s help to figure out. Some puzzles require you to shine his light and project an image in a certain orientation. Others require him to light up a switch, activating a timer allowing a door or passage to open, or traps to stop for a time. There is also the use of crates and items that you can drag or pull and use to jump on top of (before you get wings), depress switches, and items for Igniculus puzzles.
Combat is a major part of this game. Usually turn based combat is not for me, however Child of Light made it an easy learning curve. However, it’s easy to learn and hard to master. Combat is based on a timeline where you need to gauge your opponents cast times and your own. You are able to use Igniculus to slow down your opponents to give your party a slight advantage. In combat you are allowed to have two of your party members active, and you can switch the character out whenever it is an active character’s turn to cast. Each character has different spells, attacks, and defenses.
Remember to use the skills from leveling up and Oculi to make combat easier. Oculi are gems that you are able to insert into your weapon, armor, and accessory to boost a variety of different aspects: magic or physical defense, XP gained, resistances etc. There are boosts that you find in the world as well, that are located in your inventory that give a permanent boost, so make good use of those. Explore everywhere because you will find Oculi, potions, and permanent stat increases in chests all around the world.
There are few things that I did not personally like about this game. There are no enemy health bars. This makes combat a lot harder since you are always trying to figure out how much health the enemy has. The only indicator that the enemy is in bad shape is that they will start to hunch over when they are critical. There is also no indication that they are casting a spell other than a prompt that says they are “gathering their defenses” or a similar phrase. In addition, Igniculus has to be in a very specific spot on an opponent for him to target them for his slow ability. On a bigger opponent there seems to only be a small area where it is effective.
A small gripe from me was the lack of ability to skip over dialogue that I had already seen. Before you go to the last fight of the game, there is a cut scene and dialogue between Aurora and the Dark Queen which is all un-skippable. Considering the last fight is probably going to take more than one try, it was a mild inconvenience to watch it every time.
My overall conclusion is that Child of Light is a great game. I was really surprised by the combat and my ability to pick it up as well as the in-depth story. The characters all having something that they had to overcome, which was realistic and made the game endearing. In reality, everyone has something that they have to overcome, so it was nice to see they did as well. If you haven’t picked Child of Light up yet I suggest that you give it a try.