Child of Light (PC)

Child of Light let me fulfill my lifelong dream of having luxurious flowing hair and the cutest little fairy wings to flutter around a magical storybook land. And when you fly around, your beautiful silken locks swirl and twirl about and make me feel so pretty inside ^__________^. But in a vicious rib-kick to fantasy wish fulfillment, they didn’t add in a hairbrush or a giggle button so I could fly around spreading girlish cheer far and wide >:(

I knew so little about this game when I bought it I was surprised when I bumped into my first enemy and entered into turn-based combat. I thought it was a platformer. Less than an hour after I started the game, I was surprised again when the game gave me permanent infinite flight, throwing away platforming altogether.

The game has two difficulty settings, Casual and Expert, and I picked Expert because I’m not some pussy-ass casual gamer that plays Farmville and can’t name the entire cast of FF6 (I call it 6 because I’m hardcore), including the hidden characters. It turns out this makes the game hard, and in a really frustrating way. The combat has a timer bar that determines when you and the enemies attack. It’s divided into a wait portion and a casting portion. When you reach the casting portion, you pick your attack and then start casting, and then attack when you reach the end. During the time you’re in the cast portion, you can be interrupted which pushes you back into the wait portion. There’s also status effects that can push you back on the bar no matter where you are on it. Combat is 2 vs a max of 3 enemies, and even though there’s only 3 enemies it can get really aggravating really fast because 3 enemies can (and will, eventually) stunlock you so you can’t attack ever. There’s ways to mitigate this somewhat. There’s potions you can get that will make you uninterruptable for a few turns, but it requires you make it through a turn to use them. You can defend for a turn, which is SUPPOSED to make your next attack uninterruptable but later in the game this increasingly seemed to not be the case. Also on Expert, letting a turn go by where you’re not healing or attacking feels like it can make or break a battle.

You can also interrupt and push back enemies, and you have a weird sweat dorp light companion that you can use to dramatically slow down an enemy’s turn by shining it next to them. The light companion has no turn itself and is controlled independently of combat, so you can fly him back and forth between enemies and try to juggle slowing them down in real time. It’s a neat strategic element, but I usually wound up singling one person out possibly because I’m stupid and/or lazy.

In general I liked the ideas behind the combat system, but it made me VERY ANGRY later in the game, threating to make my beautiful hair fall out or develop split ends.

The flying is alright. The areas are huge and filled with treasure, and there’s the occasional obstacles but nothing challenging. It’s not the most exciting thing, but it’s slightly more engaging than walking around the worldmap opening treasure chests in typical RPGs.

There’s gem crafting from Diablo, but only a couple of gems are any good.

There’s lums from Rayman that give you health and magic.

Items: fucking useless! Except maybe heal and magic refill potions and uninterruptable potions.

The game has a stat system, but I have no idea how it relates to anything at all. I don’t think it does. Throughout the game there’s dozens of items to permanently boost stats, and I gave nearly every one of them to the main character. By the end she was more powerful than almost every NPC in my party and came within a few points of the others, but still did like half their damage. It made no goddamn sense.

Speaking of NPCs, all but about 3 are useless. You get 1 healer, 1 magic user, 1 good physical attack with high health and defense, and the rest are garbage with crap abilities and dressed like a clown. Some of their abilities even overlap, making them even more useless. You can swap them out at any time during combat, and it’s instant without losing a turn, but you run into a huge problem where you might get the bright idea to swap one in that has a ‘buff all’ ability that could be useful. Problem is, it only buffs who’s currently in combat, so when you swap back out the actually useful character gets nothing. You’re better off just using a potion.

The story is deep and meaningful and this joke was worn out before I even started it. You die, so your dad starts dying of a broken heart because he’s a little bitch who won’t just man up and slam a new daughter into his wife, so it’s up to you to return from the dead so he can live happily ever after with his creepy undead daughter. All the dialog and narration is told in a nursery rhyme fashion that is forced as hell, but inoffensive.

Artwork and music: nice.

This game doesn’t have Save Anywhere, but compensates with Save Constantly. Open a chest: save. Get an item: save. Start combat: save. End a battle, enter a new area, reach an invisible checkpoint in an area, etc. all save. If you die or quit, you’ll restart pretty much exactly where you were before plus or minus a few pixels.

Overall I’d say there’s actually a lot of ideas to like here, but since they were targeting 8-year olds it’s a lot more simplified than it could have been. The combat is weirdly difficult on Expert in contrast to how not challenging navigating the world is even with its hazards. I paid $4 for it in a sale and don’t regret it, but I’m not sure I’d really recommend it unless you’re buying it for your ugly children or want an RPG-lite. This would be a good case of testing out Steam’s refund option. You’ll see everything you need to in 90 minutes, because it doesn’t radically change after that.

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