PAX East 2014: First Impressions – Child of Light (Wii U)

While we’ve talked quite a bit about Ubisoft’s upcoming Child of Light game, we haven’t spent a lot of time really delving into what it’s all about. Ubisoft brought a demo for it to PAX East 2014, and despite the game being tucked away into a corner without a whole lot of fanfare, there was plenty of interest with a steady stream of people interested in giving this one a shot.

And while it may be redundant to say at this point, the visual style is absolutely stunning. It’s an incredibly appealing game just from a visual aesthetic, and it seems that we aren’t the only ones nervous about the gameplay living up to how it looks at first glance.

It’s also interesting that Ubisoft is making this game as a sort of fan-service to JRPGs, throwing in elements in design and gameplay that those who love Japanese RPGs will see and recognize fairly quickly. This could be either a very good thing—giving the game a status of innovative and unique—or a very bad thing—resulting in feeling derivative and overdone.

Now, before we get into the demo, let’s take a moment to think about Ubisoft in general. Most of their booth space went to Watch Dogs, which (when we saw it) wasn’t even playable. They had systems set up for “tournaments,” but the general public wasn’t able to go hands-on. And then we think back to the Rayman fiasco… and the comments that have come down the line about the Wii U. Ubisoft is a bit of a crapshoot, it seems, and a niche title like this makes us a little nervous. But, it’s also exciting to see a company like that trying something new, despite the lack of track record in this area. Assassin’s Creed, this ain’t.

Now for the game itself. The demo for Child of Light didn’t really give us much in the way of the story, so it’s hard to judge whether the reason for the game at all is even worthwhile. The dialogue appears in chunks on the screen, with highlighting as each line is read—it’s poetic and different, but a little strange. Will you get used to it while playing? Good question. But with an RPG, we want story, and it was a bit disappointing not to have that right away in the demo. We also didn’t get to hear any music, which could be chalked up to being in a noisy convention hall. Or not? Hard to say. (And we probably should have asked…)

The actual gamplay is as intuitive as you’ve seen in the videos that have been released about the game’s creation—you have interactive backgrounds, and will be instructed to interact at the appropriate moment (as seen in other games). As for battles, the mechanics are like a typical RPG with a twist—Aurora has a buddy, a little fire creature named Igniculus, who can slow your opponent or heal a party member. This character is controllable by a second player, though as it stands, the energy stored by the character really only allows for very limited interaction. Hopefully this increases as the game progresses.

Additional party members can be added as you play (the demo had an old man with elemental magic join the party), but everyone’s magical abilities are quite limited to start. It’s not an easy game by any means, and you’ll often (in the early stages, at least) be sitting at low HP and wishing that your fire elemental had more “firepower”, so to speak.

It’s hard to make a final first impression judgment on the game, because it seemed like a number of key elements were missing (ie. story, music) that could simply be chalked up to the play-through being just a demo event. That said, with the release for this title not too far in the future—and with the amount of info that’s been steadily streaming out about this game—you’d think that they’d want to present only the very best at these public demos.

At the very least, the game looks incredible… and for that reason, we’re continuing to hope for the best.


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Author: Micah View all posts by
Micah has been playing games since his first pong machine, and has been writing for as long as he could grip a pencil and not drool on the paper. So, for about a week.

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