Ubisoft’s “Child of Light” is not your standard 2D side-scrolling platformer. Inspired by eastern European fairy tales and Japanese role-playing games, the game is actually an RPG in platformer shoes, with deep characters and an evolving narrative arc woven into its otherwise familiar framework. It’s also drop-dead gorgeous, as its recent trailer deftly illustrates. Here’s what you can look forward to when “Child of Light” debuts later this month.
You Can Co-op if You Want: Two-player co-op is built into “Child of Light,” but it’s entirely possible to complete the game solo (as long as you’re not playing on the hardest difficulty setting).
Turn, Baby, Turn: The game’s turn-based, Japanese RPG-style battle system is familiar — and yet, dropped into the context of a sidescroller, it feels strangely new. Combat in “Child of Light” utilizes a mechanic similar to active-time battle systems found in games like the Final Fantasy series.
It’s All Growed Up: “Child of Light” is a coming-of-age story about Aurora, a girl from 1895 Austria who contracts an ailment that causes her to fall into a deathlike slumber. When she wakes up, Aurora finds herself in the mythical world of Lemuria — where the Black Queen has stolen the sun, moon, and stars. As you can imagine, it’s quite the heist.
It Reminds Us of “Passage”: In a subtle nod to Jason Rohrer’s remarkable indie game “Passage,” “Child of Light” has the player decide whether Aurora will go through life on her own, or seek out the help of others along the way. The choice has consequences on both story and gameplay (if you decide not to interact with any of these optional characters, you’ll skip about a third of the game).
It’s a Far Cry from “Far Cry”: “Child of Light” creative director Pat Plourde’s last shipped title was “Far Cry 3.” In many ways, it was a goal from the project’s start to create something that was the complete opposite of “Far Cry 3” — a softer, gentler counterpoint to all that first-person shooting.
It Uses a Fairy Tale Scale: A big inspiration for the art style of “Child of Light” was the work of English book illustrator Arthur Rackham. All of the game’s dialogue is written out in rhyme and ballad form, meant to communicate with the player in a more poetic tone than is often seen in games. It really is something special.
“Child of Light” will be available for download on April 30 for $14.99, on both Xbox One and Xbox 360.