|System: Xbox One, Xbox 360, PS4, PS3*, PC, Wii U|
|Dev: Ubisoft Montreal|
|Release: April 30, 2014|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p||Fantasy Violence|
All of Aurora's party members have a skill tree with three possible branches, but Child of Light is too compact an experience to truly take advantage of this deep kind of character customization. Characters level up every two to three fights, filling in the skill tree at a breakneck pace, and it's not difficult to fully complete the tree by simply exploring and doing side-quests while playing the game. The tree provides interesting strategic choices in theory, but in practice the choices only matter early in the game.
The equipment crafting system fares better, allowing the player to craft magical gems that provide characters with specific bonuses. Most important among these are the gems that add elemental damage to a character's weapon and can be swapped out to give a distinct combat advantage in different areas. It's not long before the party will encounter fights with mixed elemental strengths and weaknesses, challenging the player to swap characters or swap in the party's one elemental spellcaster. It's a simple but nice system that works much better than the skill trees in a short RPG such as this.
I've mentioned game length a number of times because the only big problem with Child of Light is that it's over just a bit too soon. Gameplay can be extended via thorough exploration and the occasional side quest, but just a few more hours of content would have been nice. This is particularly because it feels like the RPG systems underpinning the gameplay could have used a bit more room to breathe. They wouldn't fit in a 40-hour epic, but 15 hours might have been nice.
Perhaps I'm just greedy, though. Playing Child of Light is such a delightful and immersive experience that it's sad to see it end. Minor quibbles aside, this is one of those titles that anybody who loves games for their artistry won't want to pass up. Yes, the gameplay is a nice mix of accessibility and depth (RPG veterans will want to play on hard mode), but more importantly, Child of Light touches that part of the human experience that echoes through time in our greatest legends and stories. You'll want to grow, fight and soar through the air with Aurora. You'll want to explore and see what enchanted wonder or horror lies around the next corner. And at the end, you'll feel both satisfied and a little bit sad that you have to leave Lemuria.
Date: April 28, 2014