Child of Light: PS4 PreviewReleased end of April 2014
Ubisoft are at it again.
Following in a similar visual vein of Rayman comes Child of Light, a downloadable title for the PS4 which is due out at the end of April.
Set in a fairy tale world, you play the Princess Aurora in this RPG style sidescroller. At a recent preview event, I was given the chance to play through the first four chapters of what can only be described as a charming little game that's both ethereal and nightmarish.
As the prelude reveals, Aurora is a child stolen from her home and is desperate to get home to her father. Initially lost in the woodlands, Aurora meets Igniculus, the firefly, who becomes her ally in this quest (and is controlled in a similar manner to Murfy from the Rayman game) - between the two of them they have to face all manner of nasty creatures in the woods, solve a few puzzles (using Igniculus' light powers) and try and face their darkest fears.
The artwork for the game shows Aurora wielding a Sword in the face of a dragon, but that beastie was nowhere to be seen, leading me to the conclusion that it shows up as the final big boss. However, the initial chapters have a feel of many fairy tales which you'll be familiar with. As Aurora sets about freeing the sword, you'll end up recalling the Sword in the Stone for many reasons.
Visually, the game is absolutely sumptuous. Once again, Ubisoft has used the paintings style backgrounding technique so deftly employed in Rayman and it works to bring an ethereal and childlike feel to this story. With her Merida style red hair, Aurora is a simply charming heroine that'll be fun to help on her quest. The animation is smoothly done and the action (such as it is) is occasionally interrupted by a kind of cartoon-like story being told, as well as with rhyming couplets being seen on screen. All of this (crudely described by me) adds to a feeling of a poem and tale being sketched out on the PS4 by the UBISOFT team.
There are many familiar traits shared with Rayman - parts of the landscape are hidden and will only be revealed when you wonder near to their locale and the wishes that appear for you to collect operate in a similar manner to the Lums of the games.
Combat is kind of intriguing in Child of Light and is not your tradition wield a sword and smash them sort of affair. In fact, you can be clever and can use Igniculus to blind any nearby beasties with his glow to avoid fighting them. But by doing so, you end up losing out on the chance to power up Aurora and improve her skills (which will no doubt be called into question further down the track)
Combat takes you to another screen where you have to decide whether to attack or defend and whether to fight or flee. Using a speed bar, it's a race to see who is the first to fight and strike - and you can delay your opponent's avatar reaching their goal by using Igniculus to blind them with his light for a short time, allowing you the chance to strike. Each blow takes a toll on the baddies and it's an intriguing combat strategy (quite similar to the mechanic of South Park: Stick of Truth) but doesn't quite reveal how much strength or weakness your baddie has left meaning sometimes, planning strategy can be hard. Companions can be brought into the fight and when you're facing off against 3 others, that's no bad thing.
Overall, Child of Light looks interesting, intriguing and with that small screen lusciousness that we've come to expect from Ubisoft. It's due to drop at the end of April and having invested a few hours into the game, I've really had my curiosity piqued as to how the journey will go - and what awaits Aurora in this nightmare fairytale.