Child of Light

I noticed this unassuming little RPG title for sale on Steam for $15. My thought was “I’ve spent more than that on less pretty titles lately. Time to indulge myself.” It was the best purchase I’ve made in a good long while!

The greatest thing I can say for Child of Light is that it is a game I sincerely wish I could have played 10 years ago. This is a game that is compatible for people of all ages, and one of the few I can say is perfectly appropriate for children or young teenagers. I would recommend it to either a child or a mother. The gorgeous art, simple story, and rewarding strategy system add up to a charming and surprisingly deep game.

Little Aurora, whose flowing red locks make her look like a young Nariko from Heavenly Sword, is the protagonist. She is the daughter of a duke who falls asleep one night. When she doesn’t wake up the next day, everyone except her father assumes she is dead, but she is actually in a world called Lemuria.

The game throws you, and Aurora, right into the thick of it. You wake up in Lemuria, disoriented and with no goal. I spent about ten minutes just playing with the controls and exploring. Eventually you meet a firefly named Igniculus, who tells Aurora that a seer might be able to help her find her way out. And off you go!

The combat system is a strange beast, if a distinctive one. It’s a mix of turn-based and real-time strategy, with enemies and allies racing in an on-screen slider to see who can attack the fastest. Aurora and her companions (she picks up several over the course of the story) are kitted out with a suite of attacks and defenses. It’s very easy to figure out, but tricky to play effectively. Do you stop to take a health potion, or gamble that your attack will slow the enemy down? Again, easy to play, tricky to play well.

If I have a tiny complaint, it would be the dialogue. While clearly intended to be metric verse of the heroic variety, it sounded more often than not like I’d walked in on a bad poetry slam. Luckily it didn’t prevent me from loving the characters, though it did make the story a little hard to suss out at first. Is Aurora in the dream with her father, or is she trying to get back to save him? Is he even in danger, or is Aurora just desperate to escape? Help, Igniculus!

This adventure, with its host of colorful characters and beautiful environs, is well worth the price. I recommend it freely to anyone who wants to play a game that has the right balance of style and substance and who isn’t afraid of quirky gameplay mechanics.

I'm the daughter of a veteran who spent my childhood in Killeen. As of 2013, I have a degree in English from the University of Texas at Austin. I'm a critic of books, films, television, and video games. Find me on Twitter: @rachel_knows

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