Well, it’s that time of the year when the candy is brought out from the depths of store stock and furries get to shine. October is a time for scary stories and leaves to cover your lawn, a time when feeling fear and anxiety is actually encouraged to have fun.
Now, I’ve never celebrated Halloween myself or enjoyed the build up to it, but I always love how mystical and gothic the month feels. It’s almost like this is the time when fantasy and gothic horror is accepted into our reality rather than pushed away. Who doesn’t love watching Jason cut up College kids or cowering under the covers in the midnight hour.
For a month about fantasy and darkness, I thought it’d be a great idea to talk about a light-hearted fairy tale game. Totally not because it’s a short but solid game and college is giving me a different reason to be scared.
Child of Light
Child of Light is a 2d JRPG released in 2014 by Ubisoft, known for Far Cry and having strange E3 moments, for the Xbox 360 and One, Playstation 3 and 4, and the totally remembered Wii U. An ultimate version was released on the Switch in 2018, which is the version I played for this review. Inspired by Earth-I mean Final Fantasy and Chrono Trigger, the game follows a young girl from Austria who arrived into the mysterious continent of Lemuria after passing away. With a sword in hand and a Calvery on your side, you traverse the strange land for a way back home and, per the rule of Fairy Tales, stop your bitchy step mom. Because what would a fairy tale be without some evil step mom hating their step-daughter for very specific but unclear reasons.
For context on my connection to this game since I’ve never mentioned this story before, but Kingdom Hearts was one of the first games I saw as a kid. I remember in my babysitter’s house watching her son playing it when I snuck into his room; I was a very resourceful 3 year old. Ever since then, that game has stuck with me forever and its mystery in my life has always made me want to experience it for the first time. The same thing happened with this game.
Back in 2015, I remember my brother buying and playing the game on his Wii U. As a young brooding teen who didn’t understand the story since I watched his playthrough in parts, the images of a young girl flying in the sky and the soft piano playing in the background as he explored stuck with me for years. It felt magical. When I got my switch, this became an immediate buy and an immediate contender for one of my all time favorite games.
Child of Light came at a good time in my life when high fantasy games like Final Fantasy 9 became my trend. In years of darkness when reality started kicking me in the Igniculus’, playing through a fantasy game that wasn’t overly dark and moody took me back to a time when I used to watch Adventure Time every day. I love dark sh!t but I need a break from time to time, so exploring through magical lands and fighting dark creatures without the light tone going to far into the night felt like a breath air to me. It reaffirmed that not every great story has to contain blood, mental trauma, and overall downer concepts. Sometimes, a little light can go a long way.
For this review, I’ve decided to split it into two parts. The first will contain the important stuff such as gameplay elements and story while part 2 will cover the miscellaneous things that aren’t too important in the grand scheme of things but are interesting. I played through this game in a whole week on New Game + since it’s only about 13 hours, so I’m completely fresh on what I liked and disliked about the game. With all that set in stone, let’s die from poison and enter into the mysterious world of Lemuria.
The Story: Getting Isekaied
The story of Child of Light is very, very simple. It doesn’t try to be overly complex and it appears cliche when out of context. But deep within its straightforward narrative about light vs darkness is a tale of what it means to be royalty and what responsibilities lay within.
It all starts in 1800s Austria with Aurora, daughter of a Duke. Her mother passed away long ago, so it’s been mostly her and her father in the castle until he remarried. Then, by sheer coincidence, on Easter, Aurora fell ill and passed away in her sleep. The duke mourned the loss of her daughter and fell ill himself.
However, Aurora didn’t appear in heaven but instead in the land of Lemuria, based on a real supposed continent. Traveling through the woods, lost and scared, she soon meets a firefly named Igniculus who tells her to meet the “Lady in the Woods TM”. With a goal in mind, she pulls out a rad sword and fights her way to her destination.
After defeating a boss and solving puzzles, Aurora meets the Lady of the Woods who gives the exposition. Lemuria has been taken over by the Queen of the Night Umbra, who’s dark creatures have infested the land with their…evilness. The bitch and her two serpents have also managed to steal the Sun, the Moon, and the Stars to bask the continent of light into an endless darkness. Aurora is tasked to find the 3 celestial bodies while also being told that the only way home is through a mirror within the stolen castle. Gifted wings, the girl journeys off with the hopes of a Calvary joining her side and a way to get back to her father.
The rest of the story, as a said, is very straightforward. You go to a different town/city/port and meet a different party member of the world’s races, from the bearded Capulli to the lizard-like Piscean, and help with their problems. You go to a temple and find the macguffin after a boss fight. The evil queen is actually your step-mother…and so on and so forth.
But what makes the story stand out is how it’s written and how it’s presented.
Characters and Themes:
Aurora and Being a Good Princess
Aurora, to me, is one of the best main playable character’s out there and one of the best female main protagonists. She’s strong enough to fight her own battles, compassionate enough to help people without pay, mindful enough to let people join her, brave enough to speak her mind, yet vulnerable enough due to the love of her father. I think she strikes a fine balance between breaking traditional feminine roles in stories while not be afraid to use those past tropes to give her the kind and loving personalities most female characters have.
Aurora’s most stand-out trait is her refusal to be called a princess, despite being the daughter of a duke and her literal appearance resembling traditional princesses. Like, no matter how kind she is, she will correct people on it. Her crown even has a faux carved in it (which is just adorably funny). This trait is connected to the central theme/conflict of the game, as Umbra and her daughters see themselves as the rightful rulers of Lemuria. They see themselves as better than everyone, and they criticize Aurora for dirtying her royal clothes in the presence of commoners.
Aurora, because of her refusal to her royal bloodline, shows that she doesn’t believe herself to be better than the people who follow her. She is a part of them just as they are a part of her. This is brought up during the final battle when Aurora, even after finding out her mother, who is alive, was the Queen of Lemuria and that she is the rightful heir, states that the country should be owned by the people instead rather than some castle over looking them. This is supported by the basic plot structure, as every single member of the party is a part of one of the tribes of Lemuria. They didn’t join her because she’s “the chosen one” and that everything lies with her; they joined her after she helped them with their clan’s needs. Her selflessness and her compassion to those around her are the “light” of her character.
This brought her downfall at first when Norah, who turns out to be an evil step-sister because fairy tales, used that flaw to set a trap. Aurora falls into the hands of Umbra because she chose her father over Lemuria. This goes into a secondary theme which I’ll get to with the other characters, but Aurora, as crushing as it was, had to think about the people of Lemuria over her father…to which the latter was proud of in his final moments.
She isn’t with out her flaws. Though she is compassionate, her main goal throughout the first half was to get back home to her father since he was dying. It brought her despair to leave her peers behind, but, since she’s lived with the duke alone for years, she couldn’t bring herself to leave him as he’s dying and the kingdom is flooding.
Aurora’s story is about selflessness and doing the greater good, not for herself, but for the people around her. It’s reminiscent of Link from Majora’s Mask, who went from being the chosen one in Ocarina of Time to being a selfless nobody saving everyone in Termina from the moon and from their own problems even if they never remember him. To me, Aurora is a shining star in the “hero” protagonist trope and I’m glad that what seems like a dying art can still be as inspiring and well-written as those heroes of the past.
The Calvary: Your Part
The other characters in the story represent a lot of things for both the plot and to their own character arcs. Each of them support Aurora’s belief in the people rather than royal bloodline. Each of them were hurt by Umbra in some way yet still fight for Lemuria. Without them, Aurora, no matter how strong she is, would never have survived the journey. By the end, in a sort-of shoved in theme but kind of works, each of them abandon their personal vendetta against the dark queen in favor of doing it for their country and their people. The people saved Lemuria, not Aurora.
Admittedly, this game is very plot central on Aurora’s perspective. The major events don’t include personal moments between the party, just Aurora and her story. However, that doesn’t mean the game ignores their character either. Like many adventure games, their a colorful cast of characters with their own distinct personality from different backgrounds. What connects them together is their search of belonging, their identity; which, to me, is the game’s second most important theme.
Rubella: The Jester Who Can’t Rhyme
Rubella is the first party member to join Aurora and the primary healer of the group. She is a member of the Aerostati Clan who live amongst the clouds in air balloons. She joins Aurora on her journey to find her brother, Tristis, who has left to join the circus on his own even though the plan was for both of them to go. Once found by himself after being thrown out, she convinces him that they don’t need the circus to be a two-act performance, rather finding such place amongst the warriors fighting for Lemuria.
On that note…
Tristis: The Jester Who Can Rhyme…For The Price of Crippling Depression
Tristis is an optional party member later on in the first half of the story and is an exceptional stat buffer for the party. He is a poetic downer who was unfortunately kicked out of the circus for not being humorous enough. After joining the party, I feel like both of their character arcs are not as fleshed out as the others. I think Rubella has a trait of wanting to be a warrior, since she took pride in it in a conversation with Oengus and talks about fighting alongside her peers as much as how much she talks about the circus. Tristis is a depressed man trying to find a bit of happiness, which lasts so little the faintest sight of it made Aurora want to record it. It bounces off the jolly and cheerful dialogue of the other characters, and is ironically pretty funny. He has a very wise, poetic aura to him as if he’s experienced so much life that he can comment on the joys and sadness of it. I did find his character more interesting, but these two end up not getting a lot of development.
Finn: When That One Joke From Howl Becomes A Whole Character
Finn is a 15 year old Capulli who is the 3rd party member to join the Calvary. A cowardly magician who’s essentially the game’s Avatar, he joins Aurora when she decides to free the Capulli, turned into Cows, from Umbra’s spell. Afterwards, he joins her to face the darkness. Though he’s scared, he goes on this journey to be braver than he is and to prove to his grandpa that he can be a good spellcaster.
He’s one of my favorites in the game due to his unique appearance and his exceptional stats, possibly the hardest hitting character in the game. His crying and cowardly nature makes him more relatable rather than annoying since he’s a very useful member of the party. There’s also a adorable naivety to him since he’s so young, leading to some interesting but humorous moments with the other characters. By the end of the game, he gets acknowledgement and praise from his hard-hearted grandfather, showing how much he’s grown since his bitch’en at the start. Other than that, there isn’t a lot of interesting lore surrounding him and his conversations don’t lead to a lot of real character relationships. He’s a good’un, but that’s about as far is it goes.
Robert: When Mice Spread Capitalism Instead of Diseases
Robert is a Populli capitalist who joins Aurora as the 5th member, serving as the archer of the group. His introduction, unlike the others, is done with a twist. While you have to solve a problem with the clan and he joins you, Robert has clear alterior in the form of being with Margerrette and his traits of making as much money as possible in any way makes it seem he doesn’t care for Magnus, the giant who carries the city of the Poppuli. Even though he did help and later joins, his mind is still on profit and banging, making him an anti-hero of sorts. Yet his isn’t a jerk or someone who looks down on people. The opposite happens: he sees opportunity through them with glee and his curiosity for the others shows he cares enough. Plus, when it comes to his love for Margarette, he never thinks of dirty schemes to win her heart. He tries his hardest to be the best at capital and being a hero as possible to impress her.
I love Robert so much, even though I do find his play style a bit redundant and bland, because he’s such a capitalist with a heart and his personality stands out so well with the others. The best thing I learned is that he didn’t just marry Margarette, his son later stars in his own picture story based 2 years after the game titled, “Reginald the Great.” It may not be a sequel, but damn is that beautiful.
Oengus: Zuko if he wasn’t a villain and didn’t have a disgusting, pulsating scar on his face
Oengus is the Kategida outcast and the forced slave of Umbra who manages to save Aurora from her captivity and convince her to continue her quest. He serves as a physical powerhouse who takes hits like a champ. Oengus was there with his clan when Umbra and her two serpents attacked the kingdom. He turned himself into a servant of Umbra in order to save his clan, but this dishonorable act would later get him kicked out by his brother. Now, he helps Aurora to right his wrongs and stop Umbra’s reign of terror.
Oengus is my second favorite character in the game. Not just because of his insta-kill rate and attack power, but because of how much I care for the guy. He’s an honorable warrior who threw that away to save his kind, but was thrown out because of it. Despite his behemoth demeanor, he’s a knowledgeable and good-hearted warrior who’s not afraid to be vulnerable. When his brother welcomes him with open arms after helping the princess so many times, it feels rewarding. Thinking about it, the loner but honorable character trope is one of my favorite. From Amarant from FF9 to the masterclass himself Dinobot from Beast Wars, these characters stay with me because their flawed yet have a sense of honor that sometimes gets questioned. They have a redemption-arc aspect about them that feels real and engaging. I love these characters whenever they appear.
It could also be the fact that, under all that armor, is apparently a being smaller than a 13 year old.
Gen: Short-lived Yet Still Impactful…and that’s not a joke on her height
Genovefa, or Gen for short, is a Piscean girl who is the final party member to join the Calvary. A user of “speed magic,” which I’ll go more in depth later, she is found with her Grandfather in a small village along the Lemurian Sea. Her plight is that an ogre, who usually protects the caves where the submerged Temple of the Sun lies, has been kidnapping her people since the rise of Umbra. Like normal, you go to the thing and defeat the boss but, in a depressing turn, it’s revealed her parents were already eaten. Aurora is forced to tell Gen the truth, to which the depressed and enraged girl joins the Calvary to stop Umbra as revenege.
Truth be told, before my playthrough, I actually thought her parents survived and was the reason why she was a forgettable character. It didn’t help that I knew she came in so late into the game, right before the final temple and last boss. I do think this still ends up not allowing you to get used to her well enough, and part of me wishes the game extended so she could feel more at home like the rest of the party. But the revelation that, unlike everyone else, you were too late to help her and that there is no way to revive her parents made it work.
Gen is short lived yet her story is so profound you still end up caring and sympathizing with her, and the way Aurora uses her flute as a requiem rather than outright telling her is tragic. It’s hard being told your parent’s are dead; it’s heartbreaking seeing the confirmation of other’s sadness and putting two-and-two together. Considering that Aurora prioritized going to her father over her journey and the trap that occurred, it makes me wonder if Aurora could have saved Gen’s parents if she got the moon and the sun and never met Norah. Whether or not this is possible, it’s seriously impressive to me that they didn’t go the easy route. In a game with such heartwarming and wholesome moments, Gen’s story reminds us of the dire situation of Umbra’s rule and how she needs to be defeated. Gen’s short time may suck, but when she faces Umbra it’s cathartic. I just wish we got to know what happened to her.
Golem: The Defender of Lemuria, now a Castaway
Golem is a man of rock who was a part of the Golem’s Plight DLC and is included on all Ultimate Versions of the game. A defensive unit with moves to slow enemies down, he can either be the second or last party member you get since he’s found in the prickly tree right next to the Alter. Once a guardian of the castle for 300 years, he was cast out and disassembled by Umbra. Once Aurora puts him back together, he joins the Calvary to defeat the evil queen and find his missing piece, which he doesn’t know where it is and makes him feel empty inside.
Golem ended up being my third favorite character due to his story arc of finding his missing rock piece, which is a metaphor finding purpose in your life in order to fill in the emptiness within us. A lot of the times he tells that he was made to be a guard, to which other characters whether or not that’s real freedom. One of my favorite interactions happens with Oengus. Both of them compliment each other, whoever Golem doesn’t feel comfortable being called solid since he sees himself hollow without his missing piece. Oengus tells them that’s nature to feel incomplete, and that our journey’s to are always continuous and interconnected. He tells Golem to not feel sad since he’s still coming together. Like the Kategida member, Golem is old and wise yet feels no purpose. Their interaction together is very philosophical yet helps develop Golem, which is later shown through his interaction with Gen. When Gen is grieving and feels that she lost a part of her when her parents died, Golem is there to tell her that no one is perfect and that they are always going to find their missing piece with people a long the way.
In short, while the cutscenes for these characters are short and not integral to the plot, their interactions and banter help show that they are a party of people who trust, care about, and mess with each other. It shows great chemistry between them, from small humorous scenes like when they can’t believe Oengus is actually a tiny man to meaningful connections like Golem and Gen’s interaction, and proves that they were the best thing for Lemuria. Child of Light may be a plot-based story, but it’s dedication to it’s main party is beautiful.
Now for the elephant in the room…
Norah: The Villain You Feel No Sympathy For
Now, Norah is a party member. She joins right after Finn and introduces herself as Aurora’s older sister, entering Lemuria through a mirror at the top of the castle. She eagerly joins her little sister on her quest back home, become the party’s main buffer and debuffer. However, while Robert was an interesting anti-hero who still manages to be nice, notable character interactions show Norah as passively aggressive and elitist. She says with the same happy smile, yet you can tell she doesn’t respect Finn or Rubella as peers, talking down to them in her cheerful demeanor. This contrasts Aurora since she talks to them like normal people. It easily establishes her as a character who needs development, and since she’s royalty you can put two-and-two together that it’ll be about treating peasants as people.
This trait explodes with Robert and the Populli. Despite the people’s capitalist behavior, she just outright calls them vermin like she has a Dinobot pass. She’s the only one to catch Robert’s alterior motive and questions why he’s helping them, but it’s filled with so much malice that it leans more towards hatred than actually catching a potential betrayal. Norah even tries to lure Aurora away several times from the rat. However, by this point, Norah’s character still comes off as just royal elitism rather than a future villain. But, surprise surprise, it turns out that Norah is actually Nox and was luring Aurora to a trap. She’s kind of like the Aeris of the game except, instead of dying, she permanently joins the villains or was a part of them from the beginning.
Norah is the most interesting antagonist to me because, while retaining the same traits as Umbra, she was a part of your team for a while. Many of her interactions foreshadow her betrayal but also reveals a lot of her character, making the twist believable and giving depths to what could have been an okay villain. While Umbra’s boss fight is satisfying because it concludes the story, Nox’s boss fight feels a lot more meaningful since both has you fighting a party member who betrayed you but also feels like a conflict between the two sister’s ideals when it comes to commoners. Nox’s execution as a character is effective because she was a party member, and kicking her ass after her snippy attitude and heel-turn made for a refreshing experience.
It could also be that I thought that, when she left, she took the Oculi from my bag. I don’t have any evidence for that being a mechanic, but it sure as hell fueled me to beat her serpent form.
Gameplay: Complex for 13 hours
The game takes place in a 2d plane as you explore the forests and skies of Lemuria. You start out running to your destinations, making your way through block puzzles and lighting the way with Igniculus. The firefly can be controlled by the 2nd stick and can do a number of things. Dark areas are lit by his light to see better.
Enemies, very much like Earthbound and Chrono Trigger (where this idea really comes from), roam around waiting to attack. The way they fly or walk around actually adds to the worldbuilding since most of them are animals or animal like, feeling like their really part of the environment. With Igniculus’s light using the the R button, you can blind them to avoid fights or initiate fights from the back to do a surprise attack.
Around Lemuria are these glowing flowers. Touching them with Aurora or Igniculus releases the spores in a row. If you get them in the right order, the spores become health and MP for the party. Two blue orbs hang around the world and dungeons, one being treasure chests for Igniculus to charge with light to open or buttons that must be charged to open doors or turn off traps for a time. Finally, lighting Igniculus near Aurora recovers her health. The little firefly is an integral part of the game that doesn’t feel too overpowered, due to a meter, but never too useless.
The beginning never feels out of place or unnecessary because all the puzzles were teaching you how to do it for when they become adjusted for your flying. Unlike a Metroid game or Mario game, where flying would make things a hell of a lot easier, the game structure around it still gives it challenge and rewards players to do things that most RPGS wouldn’t allow you to.
After the first boss, Aurora is gifted the greatest thing a little girl can have…Barbies-I mean Wings! Like Tinker Bell, Aurora can fly through the sky to reach otherwise unobtainable treasure chests and secrets. The game’s layout really flows around flight rather than walking around, which makes for a unique 2d experience.
The Oculi System
The Oculi System is the equipment and crafting system of the game. Oculi are gems of varying colors found from chests, by enemies, and as rewards. The first, primary oculi colors are Ruby red, Sapphire blue, and…Emerald green? I guess that they wanted lightning to not be represented by yellow. This is the bases of the system: color and grade.
Crafting involves combining colors together based on the grade of the Oculi. There’s rough, tumbled, faceted, and brilliant (which is just a Diamond). You can only combine Oculi of the same grade. With colors, this is more diverse. You can do all 3 of a red rough to get one red tumbled, or you can combine a red and blue rough to create a purple rough, or you can combine all 3 of the primary or combined oculi to create either black or white. You can then combine the two to get Spinel, which I can only describe as hamburger puke. Finally, when you have a diamond of black, white, and hamburger puke…I’ll let you find out.
It’s a solid crafting system for a short game, having just enough to the point where it isn’t too complicated. However, the options become so little that the charm dies by the end. At the start, you’re building up your bling but, once you know it, it devolves into just getting diamonds. Repeat playthroughs don’t add to crafting since will just be getting 10 usable equipment. The feeling of experimentation is short lived. But, the game makes up for it with how you equip your gems.
I wish more games did this because it turns a limited pool of items into something unique and interesting. It asks the question: how do you want to equip this item? Do you want to give your characters resistance to an element in this location, like lightning, with an Emerald, or give the character more MP for spells. It’s fun mixing and matching slots to see which ability is the most effective for the character or situation. I honestly haven’t had this much fun with equipment since the esper system from Final Fantasy 6. Where the crafting of oculi gets dull, it’s how you use them that gives the Oculi System life.
Every character has 3 equippable slots: attack, defense, and miscellaneous. Let’s say you have a red occuli be equipped on a character’s attack slot. They would have fire imbued into their physical attacks. Seems normal, but this isn’t the end of it. Equipping it to the miscellaneous slot gives the character a passive ability to which it raises evasion when casting spells. This is the fun of the system because one oculi has 3 differing abilities that you can choose to use.
The Skills System
Leveling up in Child of Light gives the usual stat boosts but also skill points. The skill tree gives you the freedom to choose what further stat boosts and skills your characters want. Every character gets around 7-8 skills spread in different looking branches, all ranked form 1 star to 3 stars. As you progress, some branches have a passive skill along with them.
I’m not very knowledgeable when it comes to skill tree systems as this was my first game really experiencing it…unless I have before and I’m just not remembering. I have to say, it’s pretty fun. Choosing when you want something or investing your points into a skill down the road adds a lot of customization and planning to an RPG, which is what I love about the genre.
Unfortunately, since I did New Game Plus, I kept all of my choices so I ended up not enjoying it as much since I had the ability to complete all trees by the end. Though a noob to the skill tree, I think Child of Light’s ends up inconsequential. From what I’ve seen of others, it’s about building your character the way you want them.
This doesn’t work for Child of Light since, as someone who unlocked all the skills, it’s not a good idea to have only one branch. Doing so would do things like only giving Finn Fire and Water or only giving Oengus upgrades to his slash while missing out on his boosts. Every character has their selective roles in the party, meaning that branches don’t lead to different jobs. It’s more like spreading their preexisting job around and you get to choose what to invest first. I can see the argument from players more sued to this system that they should have just done a linear skill system instead. It has its own merits, but the end result begs the question of “what’s the point.”
Combat: 2 against 3, I like these odds
Once initiating a fight, you’re greeted by Child of Light’s spin of turn based combat: a relay race. Each character starts at the back and, depending on their speed, move from the grey-blue wait section to the red casting section. When one of your characters make it, you can give them and only them actions to do. Once selected, they still continue to move to the end so they can cast their attacks. Enemies follow the same route. You have two party members fighting while the enemies can go up to 3.
While games like Final Fantasy have slow moving bars to create a slow approach to thinking during combat, Child of Light is fun because you have to think on the spot and control the environment. I’ll explain it as best as possible. One of Igniculus’ most useful abilities is the ability to slow enemies during combat. This is great because it allows you give your characters the edge and move faster while your enemy has to move as slow as a slug. Of course, use this sparingly.
All spell casts go from fast to slow, determining how long you stay in the cast zone. this is important to know because if an enemy hits a party member during this time it interrupts them and sends them back to wait. This is applies to enemies as well. Combat becomes a game of casting first and halting enemies before they can do the same to you. If your in control and slow down enemies at the right time, especially when their casting, you can cause a chain effect where you’re constantly going and their constantly getting interrupted. But the same can happen to you.
Most attacks are standard in any RPG, but buffs and debuffs work around the relay-combat. For instance, buffs like Unstoppable prevent you from being interrupted while haste makes it so you go faster than enemies. Debuffs halt your progress, like slow making enemies slow and paralysis stopping them completely for a few seconds. This is what I like to call “speed magic,” and it’s what makes Gen and Tristis such a special character because there entire playstyle is based around this combat. These kinds of buffs and debuffs can be used by enemies, mostly in the form of their counters. Counters happen as a negative to disrupting their casts, making many boss fights tricky since it forces you to let them go when the going gets tough. Some will put up shields, others will put slow on the party, and some can even put Unstoppable on themselves. Nox can do this in her boss fight, and I like to imagine everything she does is my fault.
The best thing about this system is how focused you have to be during fights. None of that mash A while you text your Onlyfans crush, eat a hotpocket, and watch Gundam Unicorn at the same time. While some fights are easy enough to possibly do this, many are challenging that you need to pay attention. It holds your brain and makes you think, constantly casting spells and hoping your little firefly slowing them down is enough to stop them. This kind of combat is what many RPGs strive for.
I found fights gained arbitrary difficulty because of this, forcing fights to be more about defending and healing instead of going on the offensive when 3 enemies overwhelm them. The fun slowly dies because it removes the control players have become so used to. I’m all for difficulty in fights, but I lose interest when I feel the unfair advantage comes from the game forcing it. Constantly switching party members and using potions doesn’t feel like the skills I built up with my characters.
Unfortunately, it suffers in areas. For one, you have two party members fight during combat. All I ask is…why? Two is fine but I never understood why I was stuck with only two and the enemies got 3. As a storyteller, it does show the enemies to be more a threat but, gameplay wise, I never understood the reasoning. This becomes worse when, as you learn, having both party members fall gets an instant game over. I guess the others were too scared to come in.
Finally, the biggest drawback to combat actually comes before the fight begins. In Child of Light, you can’t switch party members in the main menu. You can only do it during combat. I’m sorry, that’s really stupid. For as much preparation as you can get from skills to equipment, not being able to craft your two-party set-up before fights takes away a feeling of control and prep that many RPGS have. Granted, there’s no cost if you switch during battle. However, I don’t see an argument as to why you can’t just do it before, plus having to change up to the members you want can eat up time in the fight. These are small problems, but once they come up they are jarring to the fun and engaging experience Child of Light has to offer.
Since I don’t want to make one post too long, I’ll be saving my thoughts on the music, the graphics, the sidequests, and the secrets (like lore) for the next post. I wanted to focus on the core aspects of Child of Light and save the rest for a part 2. I’m sorry this took too long, meaning the Saber review will likely be delayed since I’ll have to rewatch the hell that was Saber.
For now, before the real overview, I will say that Child of Light’s core elements are well-done. Aurora and the conflict mix so well to create tension and theming, while the characters still have enough depth in their short amount of screen time to make you love them. The Oculi System is experimental in a good way, though crafting leaves a lot to desire. The combat is solid and engaging, with a setback that can ruin the fun. I think this alone sells the game, especially for how short it is. I finished this in a week and, yes, I am failing college because of that. Anyway, I hope to see you soon for my next post. And remember…never expect every Blog or Video ending to have some corny tie-in last line the topic.
Gundam Unicorn: The Beast of Possibility and Posebility
I am a fairly new Gundam fan, watching 00 as a kid and watching bits of Char’s Counterattack. Even though I lack the context of the previous shows in the Universal Century, Gundam Unicorn is still an incredible experience to be hold and has become one of my favorite animes of all time
Set in the Universal Century, in the year UC 0096 3 years after the events of Char’s Counterattack, the conflict between the Earth Federation and Neo Zeon, known as the Sleeves, is still underway due to an item known as Laplace’s box, the secret of the century itself. The Vist Foundation, who has kept the secret of the box for decades, now wants to give the Sleeves the box through the use of its key, an experimental Mobile Suit resembling a unicorn.
Banagher Links, an engineer student on Space Colony 7, has a chance encounter with Mineva Zabi, calling herself Audrey, who wants to stop a war between the two factions. During the scheduled meeting, the Earth Federation caught wind of the deal and causes a battle within the colony. As Banagher tries to find Audrey during the chaos, he stumbles upon the unicorn and Cardeas Vist. Entrusted with the suit as the finder of Laplace’s Box, the boy sets out to find Audrey and stop the Sleeves. In the midst of the battle, all bear witness as the white mobile transforms into the white devil itself: a Gundam.
While many of the major characters lack depth and development, Gundam Unicorn is a beautiful representation of giant robots in real military situations…in space. The show’s philosophy of Human potential and what war can do, it’s worldbuilding between both factions built up from past entries, to the fight scenes with incredible animation and sound design makes for one of most theatrical, grounded, and stellar experiences I’ve ever had.
Squid Game: Doesn’t Contain Squids
Admittedly, I only watched a couple of episodes till ep 5. However, the experience was just as thrilling and horrifying. It may not be the most original idea, but it’s a mainstream show that is incredible with its execution.
In this Korean survival horror, several hundred players, all in crippling debt as societies outcasts, are chosen by the Front Men to play a series of children’s games for the chance of millions of won(Korea’s currency). However, the catch is that those fail at the games, try to escape, or refuse to play under contract are killed. With each protagonist at the edge of their struggle, they now have nothing to lose but everything to gain as each death racks up in more cash. At the same time, a detective looking for his brother infiltrates the sadistic cooperation running the game to find out what their hiding and the purpose to this massacre.
Like I said, it’s not the most original in concept, but it’s so good in executing its ideas that it might as well have created them from scratch. The characters are relatable, unless your a nobody, and the tension with every game is so horrifying that deaths stick. However, unlike others that I’ve seen from this kind of story, nothing feels forced. The games are made to be fair, and a collective vote even allows players to leave. Everything feels like natural, allowing for the story to talk about its themes without it coming out of nowhere. Plus, it still has a few surprises. I haven’t finished it yet, but it’s worth you time.
Kamen Rider Revice: One Man, His Stand, And Two Riders
Oh my god, a good Kamen Rider series! I’ll admit it, from Zi-O to Saber, the Kamen Rider series has been growing stale from choppy writing to failed concepts. Also the toys have been getting out-of-hand, which sucks since previous series have managed to handle them in unique and believable ways. But Revice has been a treat to watch and has become a way better anniversary series than Zi-O.
Set in a world where Kamen Riders are common knowledge, a mysterious stamp artifact was discovered in South America 50 years in the past. In the present, the organization Fenix is dealing with demon worshippers known as the Deadmen who summon Deadmans from the inner demons of people using Vistamps. Their only hope is through the use of a Driver and a warrior known as Revice, who will fight alongside his inner demon.
At the same time, Ikki Igarashi is the son of a spa running family who’s recently been dealing with a demon only he can see. He is a man who gave up his dream in order to help with the family business while his brother, Daiji, rises up the ranks as a Fenix member. He is also the man chosen to be Revice. When the Deadmen attack Daiji’s ceremony and he fears becoming the Rider, Ikki makes a deal with the invisible devil and puts on the belt. The two of them become the warrior based on the T-Rex Revice, split as Kamen Rider Revi and Kamen Rider Vice. Together, they help Fenix and Japan during these dark times as people lose themselves to the desires of their inner evil.
What I find endearing about Revice is how over-the-top yet simple the show is. Compared to Saber’s Wonder World and Zero-One’s Humagear world, Revice feels like the real world with a Kamen Rider (this could be due to less Co-vid restrictions). Background characters may not be important but have enough relevance to make me believe that they matter. The show has a Double and OOO’s feel to it, and the simplicity allows for less worldbuilding errors that plagued the two Reiwa series before. I also love how the writing focuses on character rather than plot, something that Saber failed at both ends, making twists surprising due to being based around the characters. It’s only 7 episodes in but Revice’s grounded but supernatural tone, combined with its Kuuga like approach to people, wacky humor, and good writing, easily makes it the better of the 3 Reiwa shows already. I pray to the Tokusatsu that nothing goes wrong. I can’t take another disappointment.
Image from Kamen Rider Fandom