Child of Light is an incredible side-scroller. My mind immediately fills with a few annoying titles that have dirtied the waters of the genre, but let me reassure you this is no typical 2D experience.
This is a game you'll want to tell everyone about the second you put down the controller.
To describe Child of Light in one word, it would be: beautiful. From the gameplay to the graphics, this game delivers on its part-turn-based RPG, part-platformer that it set out to create.Child of Light is gorgeous, well written side-scroller that gives a breath of fresh air to the genre on next gen consoles.
There are clear roots in old 16-bit RPG's that shine through here, including Final Fantasy VI and Chrono Trigger. The team behind the UbiArt framework that pulled this together have done a compelling job in doing so.
I also noticed a DLC option on the front menu, as well as UPlay integration so expect more from the developers in the future, but for now I reckon they're onto something good.
Child of Light begins with a young girl named Aurora with wavy red hair that resembles the liquid wax in a lava-lamp.
You have a buddy named Igniculus, a firefly she befriends almost immediately, who is also available as a separate playable character through co-op.
Aurora finds herself lost in the world of her own dreams, the magical kingdom of Lemuria.
To her dismay, she discovers that the Black Queen has taken hold of the power of the sun, moon and stars.
She also figures out that she can't wake up, which leaves you wondering what's actually happened to her in the real world.
But that's not important, this microcosmic world is more beautiful than anything you could ever dream of. Blotchy inkwork transitions between scenes and gameplay, as though your eyes were scanning across a massive painting, all so perfectly and seamlessly.
I only had around three hours to get through four chapters; so I never made it to the end. The amount of random forest critters looking for a battle are totally overwhelming and I kept catching myself going off on tangents and having to backtrack to the main plot-line.
It's almost impossible to progress through the story without veering off and levelling up for the boss battles.
Going in all powers-blazing will almost certainly lead to imminent death, so you'll need all the extra lives and potions you can pick up along the way.
You'll also meet different characters that become available to switch to during battle, each with their own strengths and weaknesses.
The upgrade system is branch-structured and you will need to choose an area in the system to concentrate your level-ups on in order to make it through the beginning.
They'll become extremely valuable in big fights so don't waste them on the small guys.
Levelling up weaponry can also be done by collecting gems called oculi.
These add an extra dimension to your weapon, rather than replacing it altogether.
The first one I claimed was the rough ruby which upped my fire attacks on my sword, making it more powerful against earth-type enemies, but weaker against water types.
Similar to Pokémon, your turn allows you to use a potion, change out your helping character, or flee.
The battle system is made up of two components - the first is a race along a timeline on the bottom of your screen to decide who attacks first.
Hovering your firefly over a certain enemy while holding L2 will slow down their icon that scrolls along with yours, and if you're lucky, gives you the chance to take the first move.
It's an interesting method of giving your team an extra chance to win, but seems a bit stressful if you're guiding the firefly and fighting the battle all by yourself.
There's just far too much going on when you have three or four enemies on the screen, but this is where the co-op shows its worth.
Child of Light is whimsical in the way it delivers the story, incorporating prose in dialogue and narration, but also in the way it throws in cynicism and satire into the mix through the firefly's speech. I'm not usually a fan of having to push and click through dialogue, but the blend makes for a fun read here.
My worst fear is that this game will be glanced over as another 2D-nobody, and if there was a public campaign to stop that from happening I would have heavily contributed.
For the love of all things beautiful, please give this game a chance before you flag it.
Child of Light
Platforms: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PS3, Xbox 360, Wii U
Release date: April 30