Child of Light is going to be beautiful. And when I use that flattering descriptive term, I’m referring to both the presentation and its classical soul. The developers behind Far Cry 3 will deliver a true homage to the past; a classic role-playing game with artistry inspired by the iconic Studio Ghibli and gameplay inspired by turn-based RPGs of old. You might not think of games like Secret of Mana and Chrono Trigger when I say “Far Cry 3,” but trust me, this is veteran team that understands the enduring, charming appeal of those old-fashioned games.
It might draw inspiration from the 16-bit era, but Child of Light will take advantage of the powerful UbiArt Framework to bring us a stunningly modern set of visuals. This engine lets artists and programmers directly implement their creations in the game, which means the result will be an “interactive painting.” Pretty yet subtle special effects, a gorgeous, mystical environment, and fantastic character design highlight this attractive production. As for the gameplay, expect a mix of old-school platforming and turn-based combat, which will remind you of certain PS1-era RPGs.
The story revolves around a young girl, Aurora, who is trying to make her back home. In the process, she’s trying to rescue the sun, moon and stars, which are held in a strange sort of limbo by the Queen of the Night. She will travel with a friend and confidant, who goes by the name Igniculus. He’s just a glowing blue orb but he can go places Aurora can’t, and he’ll prove invaluable during tougher encounters. Overall, it’s a combination of the stunning environment and the accomplished character animations, which allow the production to shine. It’s not all about embracing “outdated” mechanics, though. There’s plenty of depth here, too.
Expect a deep upgrade system powered by gemstones called Oculi. The more you collect, the more powerful you will become. You can equip these Oculi in three different slots (for instance, you can put one on your sword), and the quality of each stone matters. They’re ranked from rough to polished; the more polished they are, the more effective they are. They can increase the amount of damage you inflict, amp up your speed, or give your defense a boost. Additionally, there’s a skill tree for each character, and you’ll need more than one play-through to unlock everything. It certainly sounds like a fully realized role-playing game to me!
The battle system honors a time long past, when turn-based RPGs ruled the world. What the uninitiated don’t know is that most turn-based RPGs utilized very distinct combat mechanics; no two were exactly alike, and some were completely different. For instance, the Judgment Ring in the Shadow Hearts games was nothing like the Crests in Wild ARMs , and each Final Fantasy produced a new and amazing mechanic, from Espers to Jobs to Materia to Junction to Licenses to the Sphere Grid. Then there’s the Legaia , Grandia , Dark Cloud , Xenosaga , and Suikoden franchises, all of which approached battles differently, even though all were essentially turn-based.
This is the sub-genre Child of Light seeks to honor. But as a twist, the developers are tossing in co-op multiplayer, which lets one player assume the role of Igniculus, while the other controls Aurora. They can work together in battle and strategy will be essential. From exploration to combat, this one should feel very warm and fuzzy for those who miss the games listed above. Whether you play solo or with a friend, the game should deliver the nostalgic goods on all fronts, and did I mention that it’ll be beautiful? Well, it will be, from top to bottom, through and through.
Child of Light launches on April 30 as a digital download for the PlayStation Network, Xbox Live and Steam. It’ll cost $14.99.