As does the handdrawn art and orchestral score. Each of Lemuria's inhabitants and environments are rich with detail, and have a sort of watercolor look to them. Everything in the game appears as if it were something you might see in a children's book, again enhancing the fairy tale setup. And while the writing and art style serve as the foundation of Child of Light's artistic appeal, the accompanying soundtrack makes the whole adventure feel like an epic ballad. You explore Lemuria to the backdrop of a hauntingly somber piano theme (an incredibly gorgeous, yet isolating, track), and engage in boss battles while a frantic orchestral piece dramatically heightens the tension. The memorable score imbues Child of Light with an always-present sense of import and intensity, regardless of the task at hand.
Arts and crafts
During your adventure, you'll acquire crystals called Oculi, which add elemental damage and defense to your weapons and armor. Not only are these powerful upgrades be found by exploring the world, but you can also create them through a simple yet useful crafting system. Equipping certain Oculi throughout your travels will give you a crucial advantage.
All that said, Child of Light is much more than some mastercraft art project, thanks to its engaging gameplay. You explore Lemuria on a 2D plane, solving timed puzzles to overcome obstacles and progress. None are overly difficult, but plenty of them require a moment or two of thought to bypass. And because Aurora gains the ability to fly early on, there's a ton to see and do, as secrets are hidden not only on the ground, but also in the sky. As such, exploration is sometimes tricky because there's no way to keep track of where you've been and where you haven't, and you'll occasionally get turned around when trying to figure out where to go next. Still, the many stages usually feel like they're of an ideal size, and you can quickly teleport between them should you find out you missed something along the way.
Trekking through Lemuria isn't exactly safe, though--you have to cut down numerous monsters through surprisingly engaging turn-based combat. Fights initially seem pretty straightforward, but require tactical planning on your part. With proper timing, you can temporarily slow enemies and interrupt or reset their turns entirely. Because of this, even the most basic battles become tense and strategic. It takes some getting used to, as there's a lot going on when there's just you and one enemy on the screen, to say nothing of when multiple enemies join the fray.
Battles provide a fantastic sense of progression and pacing, too. Throughout most of the game, you'll level up after just a couple of fights, and doing so means gaining a skill point to spend in a character's extensive skill tree. It's like playing a JRPG without all the fluff and grinding, as a neat new ability or a passive power boost is just a fight or two away at any given time. And, because most fights are entirely avoidable, you can engage in them as you please. That being said, playing on the hard difficulty is definitely recommended for those looking for a challenge, as the tougher enemies mean slows and interrupts are crucial for survival. The first half of Child of Light's eight-hour campaign is a breeze; the latter half is slightly more difficult, particularly boss encounters, but is far from insurmountable.
Child of Light is many things: a fantastic, engaging RPG that doesn't overstay its welcome; a game with incredible art design and an equally impressive soundtrack; a virtual fairy tale whose characters are cool with sacrificing clarity so long as doing so means pulling off a sick rhyme. (I jest, it's endearing, really.) It's a memorable, creative experience that's more than worthy of the asking price.
From the moment the title screen music swells
entranced your mind and heart will be,
Okay I'm done trying to write pretend poems,
just go play the game it's awesome.