Child of Light: Because Sometimes It’s Fun to Be a Princess

Promo Art for Child of Light, mostly in blue monochrome. Girl in center with red hair and a golden crown holding up a sword facing toward a city in ruins. Dragon, decaying buildings, and water in the city.

Child of Light promo art.

Once in a while, it’s fun to play a fairy-tale princess in an Oz-like adventure.

I discovered Child of Light on the PlayStation Network and was drawn in by its ethereal watercolor artwork. It was gorgeous, and it made me want to play. But beyond the art, it continues to draw the gamer in with its whimsical plot and gradually increasing difficulty, which ensures a continual challenge as the player progresses.

Child of Light is an Ubisoft game, released in 2014 on multiple console game platforms as well as the PC. Full disclosure: I’m not what some would call an avid gamer. It takes a great deal for me to even be interested in a game, and even more for me to play through to the end, as I did with Child of Light. However, I found this game to be the whole package. The art was beautiful, the music delightful, the plot engaging, and all together they bring to life a fantastic world of a lost princess trying to find her way home and save her father.

The plot line is that of a rite of passage—much like Dorothy of Kansas, Aurora is transported to a magical world where she meets an unlikely band of friends and must discover the strength inside herself to fight to get home. This cast of characters brings a variety of talents and skills to the game battles, which allows for a vast variety of strategies to win fights. There are several times in the plot where the designers shake up the status quo—which serves to keep it fresh as the player progresses through the game (even as the player shouts at the screen, “You did NOT just do that!”).

The turn-based battle is not to everyone’s taste—but as one completely new to this style I enjoyed it. There was a challenge to finding the right combination of characters (you are only allowed two at any given time, but you can switch out as often as needed) to exploit the vulnerability of the enemies. This is especially challenging in the boss fights, where a single battle can go on as long as 10 to 20 minutes. Luckily for me, time is not a factor, and you can take as long as you need to decide on a strategy. Did I mention I’m not an avid gamer? I needed a pretty long time to strategize.

There are not enough descriptive words to properly capture the artwork of Child of Light. It evokes the feel of watercolors, and the art directors made prodigious use of both light and dark elements in creating the various worlds that Aurora explores. Well-known Japanese artist Yoshitaka Amano (you might remember him from his work on Neil Gaiman’s Sandman graphic novel) worked on the artwork in the game, and deserves much of the credit for the beautiful settings.

The only thing about this game that I struggled with was the dialogue. Much of it is written in rhyming verse, which is charming, but often forced. Like, pulling-teeth forced. Overall, though, this is a relatively minor issue in the grand scheme of the game play.

In November of 2014, in IGN, there were hints of a potential sequel to Child of Light. Though nothing has come of it yet, I’ll hold out hope that I can continue the play with another installment.

When all is said and done, I had a wonderful time exploring this game. For an added bonus, its whimsy and lack of violence means it’s one you can play with older children and young teenagers—although there are some scary characters and themes that would cause me to avoid playing through with younger children. It’s officially the first video game that I’ve actually played through to the end and enjoyed every bit. I would recommend it to gamers and non-gamers alike—to anyone who enjoys a bit of fantasy and magic in their entertainment.

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