While recent years have seen something of a split forming – high-budget, triple-A games on one side, smaller, artistically bold indie titles on the other – that fracture is blurring more and more by the day. Ubisoft is apparently taking up the torch of encouraging indie sensibilities just as much as bankable blockbusters, assuming their classic Japanese-RPG experience Child of Light is a sign of things to come.
Interested gamers looking for a classic turn-based combat experience (with anything but classic visuals) need only wait until April 30 to get their hands on the game. How much time they’ll spend in the fairy tale realm of Lemuria is up to them, as the new trailer shows just how deep an experience exploring, crafting, and leveling up may be.
Given the staggering watercolors of the Child of Light footage we’ve seen, it’s surprising that a large part of the creative team most recently put their skills to use on Far Cry 3. Experience is experience, though, and Assassin’s Creed writer Jeffrey Yohalem has previously stated that a game’s story begins and ends with its own mechanics, regardless of the genre or target audience. In the case of Child of Light‘s heroine Aurora, that mechanic is combat and old-school RPG crafting, made deceptively inviting by the whimsical look and feel of the game’s environments.
The game is being targeted for audiences of all ages (10 and up), and while it may be older gamers who can truly appreciate the nostalgia and hand-drawn style dripping from each frame of gameplay video, the story surrounding Aurora is ripped straight out of a children’s picture book:
Child of Light is a reimagining of classic fairytales, inviting players on an epic adventure into the magical painted world of Lemuria. Players will uncover mysteries, participate in turn-by-turn combat inspired by classic JRPGs, and explore a mystical kingdom. The game puts players in the shoes of Aurora, a child stolen from her home, who, in her quest to return, must bring back the sun, the moon and the stars held captive by the mysterious Queen of the Night. Helped by her companion Igniculus the firefly and several unlikely allies, Aurora will face her darkest fears, including dragons and other mystical creatures in this modern take on a coming-of-age story.
It will be interesting to see just how the launch of Child of Light will differ from similar titles aided by the word-of-mouth traditionally surrounding indie titles with as inspired and memorable an aesthetic and old-school mechanics. The Banner Saga and Double Fine’s Broken Age were both crowd-funded ventures, funding their development while proving that many gamers hunger for a bold new artistic direction or return to tried-and-true mechanics.
Without that crowd-generated cred among indie enthusiasts, or invested player base, can Ubisoft hope to achieve similar levels of success? Will their own marketing push prove that triple-A publishers can still push products as well as the community itself? Only time will tell, but Child of Light is quickly becoming as promising for its RPG structure as its visual style.
Child of Light will be available for download for $14.99 on April 30, 2014 for the PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360 and Wii U.
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