Wow. I first saw a trailer for Child of Light in April 2014 (here's the post avec trailer), and I thought, "That looks like a really beautiful game. I must play that one day."
Then things happened, work, Leeds United stuff, life...and I pretty much forgot it's existence. But boy if ever there was an advert for having a Wishlist on Steam, this would be it. When I first saw the trailer, I put the game immediately on my Steam Account Wishlist - a great thing to do, as you'll then get email notifications when games on your wishlist are on sale. And I am so glad I did with Child of Light.
Massively reduced in the recent Steam Summer Sale, I had to grab it - for £1.99, it's a bargain. Less than a meal deal from the shop or just a couple of bottles of Coke. And to be honest, this is probably the best £1.99 I've ever spent on a game.
The game is a mixture of platformer and turn based RPG. You are Aurora, a young girl who has seemingly died in her sleep, in typical fairy-tale fashion, only to awake in the mysterious world of Lemuria. The fairy-tale part of this is apt, as there are nods to Sleeping Beauty, the tale of King Arthur and Snow White to name a few, and the whole game is the closest I've felt to being in a fairy-tale - which is important being a father of 2 princesses.
You embark on an adventure across Lemuria picking up companions from your light up buddy Igniculous, to the little dwarven wizard Finn from the village of Capilli , the mousey Populi trader Robert, the Aerostati jester Rubella and many more to boot. The narrative of the entire game takes place as a massive poem, even when noticing strange runes or talking with NPC's for side-quests...except Rubella, who seems to have trouble rhyming - only to be corrected by various other characters.
Another aspect that is immediately apparent, is the wonderful beauty of the game. I've played an awful lot of games in the past almost-25 years, but I must say, this is just another level. Every animation is so fluid, there is no clunky part to the graphics or the gameplay, and playing the game feels like such a natural thing it's as if I were born simply to play this. The learning curve is so small, it's barely a curve at all - this is thanks in large part due to the simple controls, and the easy to work out game mechanics. Some games are stunning and epic in scope...but are so hard to work out, and have such a steep learning curve, that it becomes something of a chore to play them - which defeats the object somewhat.
The music and sounds on the game are just as stunning, I am constantly finding myself whistling the little tune that Aurora plays on her flute (the main theme from the game) and the music can really help you lose yourself in the game for hours on end.
You travel Lemuria in the style of a platformer, exploring the lands and avoiding obstacles and encountering foes. This is where the majority of the game is spent, and this is where the movement feels so fluid. The fighting takes place in classic turn-based RPG style, with you and your enemies on opposite sides of the screen facing off.
There are certain tactics to employ pre-fight, by using Oculi. These are gems to use that you collect such as Ruby, Sapphire and Emerald which add extras to your weapons such as Lightening, Fire and Water. So suppose you're in a fiery area, facing off against fiery foes, using Sapphire to add water damage to your weapon, and adding Ruby to your defence will add Fire resistence etc. It's quite simple, but you should really stay on top as you can craft new Oculi for example 3 rough gems will create a tumbled gem, 3 tumbled gems will create a faceted gem, 3 faceted gems will create a brilliant gem - each getting more powerful as you go along. You can also mix gems to create other gems to add light damage or dodge abilities etc.
Finally, the Skill Trees. The above screenshot shows my current skill tree after completing the game and starting a New Game+ (once you've completed the game, you can go through again with the enemies being harder and your skill set from the first playthrough intact). It's all very simple and very easy to understand, such as adding extra physical or magical defence or hit points or magic points or increasing the power of your attack or defensive moves. Again, it's all so simple.
I would love to go into more detail about the story of the game, but I shan't. Rest assured that it's like a classic fairy-tale, a story of light vs dark, and redemption of a wonderful and mysterious land. In all honesty, out of the dozens or hundreds of games that I've played, Child of Light lends itself to a film adaptation more than any other game (including my beloved Mass Effect - mainly due to the amount of options in Mass Effect etc). The game is stunningly beautiful, incredibly easy to get to grips with and so easily playable you'll feel like you're watching a gorgeous story unfold as opposed to playing a game. Just be aware that you'll need to register (for free) with uPlay, Ubisoft's tiny version of Origin and Steam. But that's no biggy. You'll run through the game in between 14-17 hours, and it will be some of the most satisfying hours you'll spend playing a game.
Overall Score: 10/10 - Rarely does one find a diamond in the rough. This diamond shines brilliantly and beautifully.