Fantasy gorgeousness right in my eyeballs.
I’m happy to report that playing Child of Light, even for a brief period of time, is as delightful as watching the trailers. This beautifully-animated RPG left me wanting much more. Darn the passage of time after a painfully short PAX demo!
I got to try out the beginning of the game, where Aurora gets to know the dream world in which she searches for her father. As it turns out, all speech in Child of Light is written in rhyming poems which I found irresistibly charming. When not in battle, the game is a platformer with a few puzzles thrown in; for example, Aurora moves boxes to get onto higher ledges and trip switches.
Your partner, Igniculus, whom Aurora describes as a firefly, adds unique elements to gameplay. It can illuminate dark areas and assist with puzzles, like one where you open a door by casting shadows on insignias above or another where you activate a switch with its glow. Igniculus also helps by touching glowing foliage. Grabbing the orbs that fly out of it result in health and magic recovery, which can make or break your efforts in combat.
Once Aurora grabs a giant sword, too big for her frame, she can engage in battle. Enemies prowl the land, and similarly to the Persona series, you’ll try sneaking up on them from behind to gain an advantage in combat. However, you only have to touch enemies, so you don’t have to worry about forgetting to tap a button or getting ambushed.
Battles use an active time system similar to Grandia, where all characters, friend and foe alike, are represented in a timeline with points marked for waiting, choosing moves, and execution. It’s important to monitor this bar because you can use Igniculus’s light to slow down enemies and give Aurora the opportunity to pass them and kill them before they know what happened. Also, performing the right attack when an enemy is preparing its offense can cancel your opponent's actions altogether, increasing your advantage.
During my time, I got to look at the skill tree which enhances Aurora’s offensive and defensive capabilities in a number of directions. It’s clear that you'll benefit from making decisions about what path to take, but you can go the mixed route and expand in all directions with each skill point. You can also find objects to enhance your abilities, like one I found which added flame attacks to my sword. These objects can also be crafted, but I didn’t get to test that out.
Sadly, the game which was running on a PC build crashed shortly after I figured out a door puzzle. Still, it was wonderful to finally try Child of Light, even if it is so close to release. It looks absolutely gorgeous in-person and everything about it felt so familiar that fans of both RPGs and platformers should have no issues picking up and playing.
The wait until the end of the month suddenly seems so long. It’s like Igniculus is glowing above me.