Child of Light (Wii U eShop) Review


Many role playing games, especially turn based ones, have a bad rap today as being antiquated and refusing to move on to more action based schemas. With the advent of games like Kingdom Hearts, the benefits of a more action orientated gameplay design are pretty obvious. But there’s sometimes I still love about turn based RPGs. And Child of Light is one of those games that reminds me of why I love them. They’re simplistic, they have a notable degree of strategy involved and in the case of Child of Light, and they’re very, very good looking.

Child of Light opens with what feels like an introduction to a 50s era Disney fairytale. Aurora is a princess, the daughter of a famed duke. Living in Austria during 1895, Aurora has a strong bond with her father, since for reasons yet to be disclosed, her mother has not been on the scene for some time. Of course, eventually, Aurora’s father meets another woman and eventually marries her. On the night of their wedding, Aurora falls into a deep sleep and is pronounced dead. While this is happening in the “real world”, Aurora wakes up in Lemuria, a phantasmagorical world whose celestial bodies (the moon, the sun and the stars) have been stolen. Of course, Aurora must discover and battle the one responsible and retrieve the celestial bodies. And there’s a surprise or two along the way too.


Child of Light is essentially a turn based RPG developed in similar vein to classic Final Fantasy games. The way the game is designed, with a large emphasis on exploration and platforming lends me to describe it as an acerbic mix of Paper Mario with very light touches of Metroid thrown in here and there. When Aurora isn’t platforming (or even flying) her way through the world of Lemuria, she’ll no doubt be battling with her sword and merry troupe of companions. While it doesn’t make a lot of sense at first, giving Aurora wings early on in the story manages to aid exploration very well – giving players full command of both horizontal and vertical space to find the game’s many secrets.


The game’s battle system is probably where Child of Light does most things right. Players take Aurora and one other companion into battle against groups of enemies. At the bottom of the screen is a timeline with WAIT and CAST segments. When small tokens representing the characters reach the cast area, the player must input the battle command. If the player makes it to the end of the CAST area, the attack is a success. But if they’re attacked by anything during that period, they must begin their turn again. It’s a very interesting and fast paced way to incorporate real time elements into a turn based system, and while it sounds annoying to have to restart a turn, the battles move so fast that it’s barely noticeable. It’s fun to work out whether to just try to attack an enemy relentlessly or wait until they appear in the CAST section of the timeline so that you can continually interrupt them. It adds a light degree of strategy to the game.

The greatest and most interesting addition to the game is Igniculus. He is a blue firefly like creature who players can control either with the right analog stick, the GamePad or the Wii Remote pointer itself. Igniculus can be used to collect items, illuminate dark areas as well as blind enemies to allow Aurora to either sneak past them or launch a pre-emptive attack on them. During battle itself, Igniculus can even heal the party or slow the enemies by shining him over characters or enemies respectively. A second player can even control Igniculus using a Wii Remote – and while it’s a limited functionality similar in vein to Super Mario Galaxy, it’s still a nice touch.

As with any other RPG, Aurora is joined by some interesting characters, each with their own unique abilities. Including Aurora, all members of the party have large, yet basic skill trees that allow players to customise their characters stats how they see fit. The skill trees themselves are very simple to read and use, although filling one end of it might see some players sacrificing some attributes on the other end, which adds some choice in how players want their characters to progress.



To keep things fresh, all characters can be equipped with oculi – small pieces of gem that can give the player new attributes. A ruby, for example, gives Aurora’s sword a fire attack, while equipping it on her clothes might give her extra MP or extra defense. That is, each oculi has three functions depending on where it’s equipped. To add more of a twist – each oculi can be traded online with other players, or even crafted into another by combining them. Child of Light eschews traditional equipment setups like weapons or armour, but the oculi system does a good job standing in its place. Not only are you not bombarded with endless amounts of statistics, but you’re also given a way to enhance and even change attributes of your attacks according to your playstyle, rather than being locked in a linear path like other RPGs.

Child of Light is an RPG, but it isn’t long enough to outstay its welcome either. The main campaign / story mode takes roughly twelve hours to complete, though those who want to complete the (shallow) optional side quests may stretch it out to even longer. Upon completion, there’s a New Game Plus option, which buffs the enemies and allows Aurora to start from the beginning with all her abilities intact too, but that’s about it. Regardless of this relatively small amount of content and replayability, Child of Light feels like a steal at $19.95. Keep in mind with the Wii U version, however, that downloadable content is not supported – though Off-Screen TV play is.


Easily the most prominent component of Child of Light is its visual presentation. Built on the same engine as Rayman Legends / Rayman Origins (known as UbiArt), the game exudes a stylistic edge that few games manage to match. Hand drawn figures populate vast environments while Aurora herself zips through the air, her dress and hair flowing independently in accordance with the wind. It’s a beautiful looking game that has a simplistic artistic design – there’s barely any detail on Aurora herself, for example. But it still comes together so well and looks so great. The Wii U version runs at 60fps but at a reduced resolution of 720p, but the game still looks amazing regardless.


The soundtrack, composed by Cœur de Pirate, a Canadian musician, is a bit of a mixed bag. It’s a very depressing collection of melodies that juxtaposition with the colourful and exciting visuals. While the soundtrack was particularly enjoyable, there was a notable lack of variety in the tracks, which is a little bit disappointing. On the other hand, there’s little to no voice work in Child of Light, with most of the game opting to use written dialogue to tell its story.  While the little voice work that’s here is good, the dialogue seems to get in its own way from time to time. Essentially – most of the dialogue in Child of Light has been written to rhyme, just like a fairytale or poem. This is a good and somewhat ambitious idea to really wrap up the atmosphere of Child of Light, but sometimes the writing can get unapologetically clumsy just to make sure it rhymes. It’s a minor gripe, but it’s there.


Child of Light is a great game. A really great game. It’s beautifully presented, provides a relaxing (if melancholic) experience during exploration and a fast paced adrenaline rush during most of its more intense battle set pieces. It does a great job at marrying real time elements with turn based ones too, bringing the turn based RPG into a much more modern game design space. While it has a few things wrong with it – namely the shallow and superficial side quest design and the somewhat repetitious soundtrack – Child of Light should be commended. It’s a sizeable package valued at a very reasonable price. Worth your time. Easily.

Rating: 5/5

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About The Author
James Mitchell
Avid gamer since I was as young as three years old when I received my first NES. Currently studying full time and consider myself a balanced gamer. Enjoy games on all systems, from all genres, on all platforms. Sometimes feels like he's too optimistic for this industry.
  • Beef
    May 4, 2014 at 4:59 pm

    Great review James. The game is at the right price point, no excuses for wii u owners. Something to help hold us over until May 31st and a good way to show support to a 3rd party developer.

  • Link
    May 4, 2014 at 10:31 pm

    I am almost at the end of the game now and have absolutely loved it. It looks fantastic and the battle system makes for some intense boss fights on hard mode. Personally I did not find the lack of variety in the soundtrack to be a detractor. Definitely a steal at only 20$. Probably found this more enjoyable than a number of recent full priced releases.

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