The First Few Hours: Child of Light

As noted yesterday, reviews for Ubisoft’s highly anticipated Child of Light are a bit all over the place; they are generally positive, but some are much less effusive in their praise than others.  I tempered my excitement accordingly before firing it up last night.

One thing everyone seems to agree on is that it’s absolutely gorgeous, and in this I absolutely concur.  The game uses the same engine as the fantastic (and equally gorgeous) Rayman Origins and Rayman Legends, and to great effect – every pixel seems to be lovingly hand-crafted and placed with delicate care.

Another thing that people seem to be noticing is that the game is told entirely in verse… and that the writing is not particularly good.  I also concur with this.  I’ve got no problem at all with a game or book or film told in verse, as long as the verse itself is artful and uses the form wisely and to its advantage.  Here, though, the writing is in verse ostensibly because it’s a bedtime story, but there’s no poetry in it – it’s awkwardly written and often seems forced.  After an hour or so of reading this crap, I came to the following conclusions:  either (1) an executive gave a note to the writers to make the poetry a bit less flowery so as not to antagonize dudebros and the writers basically threw their hands up in disgust, got drunk, and rewrote the script in about an hour before storming out of the office, or (2) the decision to go with verse took place at the very last minute, and the writers (or interns, or someone’s friend who had some free time and could work cheap) scrambled to put at least a first draft in place before the code went off for submission.  Or, alternately, what’s in the game is the first draft, and the subsequent revisions got lost in the shuffle.

It’s a shame, basically, because it’s so distracting from what’s otherwise a beautiful fantasy.  The game itself is a Metroidvania adventure-RPG with a sort-of turn-based timed battle system – you gain abilities as you progress and level up and previously inaccessible areas become open for discovery; there are treasure chests (though no real loot to speak of, at least not that I’ve yet come across); there also are some light puzzle elements.

I’m having a nice time with it, and I’m certainly curious to see more of where it’s going.  It’s just a shame that the writing is so dumb.

Author: Jeremy Voss

Musician, wanna-be writer, suburban husband and father. I'll occasionally tweet from @couchshouts. You can find me on XBL, PSN and Steam as JervoNYC.

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