Ubisoft has announced that Child of Light and Valiant Hearts: The Great War, two of its smaller, but no less delightful projects, will launch on Switch before the end of the year.
Both games originally released in 2014, when Ubisoft was clearly in one of its more experimental moods, and are fascinating, frequently wonderful additions to Switch's library. Child of Light arrives on Nintendo's console first, launching on October 11th, and is a sort of RPG-platfomer-meets-fairy-tale, telling the story of Aurora, a young girl from 1895 Austria, who wakes in the fantastical kingdom of Lemuria.
It looks and sounds absolutely splendid, with a delicate watercolour art-style and serene soundtrack that perfectly suits its storybook ambience. And its appealing presentation is matched by a unique combination of side-scrolling acrobatics and unusual turn-based combat, which sees character attacks performed across a constantly moving timeline.
There's a lot to like about Child of Light, even if its relative simplicity can make the whole thing feel rather insubstantial and faintly monotonous at times. Some, it's fair to say, might also struggle with the decision to tell Child of Light's story entirely in rhyme.
It's a cute idea, but (as the above trailer hints at) the twee rhyming couplets get increasingly laboured and enormously grating very quickly. As Eurogamer's Martin Robinson vividly put it earlier today, "It was like being burned alive by aromatherapy candles".
Even so, Eurogamer contributor Stace Harman liked Child of Light well enough back in 2014, awarding it 8/10 and calling it a "welcome reminder that the industry's major players still have the creative flair to push beyond the lucrative safe ground that they so often favour to create well-crafted, highly-polished gems such as this".
Interestingly, Child of Light's debut on Switch was teased in a tweet by Patrick Plourde, creative director at Ubisoft Montreal, earlier today. That's not the interesting bit, however; the interesting bit is that the accompanying image featured the clearly-not-accidental inclusion of a document possibly labelled "Child of Light II". Hopefully there'll be more news on that soon.
Ubisoft's second Switch offering, Valiant Hearts: The Great War, arrives on November 8th - and is a game I absolutely adored when it first released. Set before and during World War I, it tells the story of five characters - Emile, a Frenchman drafted into the army, his German son-in-law Karl, American soldier Freddie, British pilot George, and Belgian nurse Anna - whose lives inevitably intertwine on the battlefield. There's even a playable dog called Walt.
Valiant Hearts is, in truth, a fairly straightforward experience, unfolding through a mix of side-scrolling platform set-pieces and light, adventure-game-style puzzling. In this particular case though, the simplicity works in Valiant Hearts favour, letting its wonderfully engaging story maintain a deliberate pace. There's warmth, humour, rip-roaring adventure, quieter, poignant moments, and moments of utterly bleakness - even if the tone doesn't always entirely gel. And it's comic book aesthetic is never less than superb.
Christian Donlan (clearly not quite as taken by the whole thing as I was) reviewed Valiant Hearts on release, suggesting that while it "struggles to make sense of itself as a game, in its odd, playful innocence and in its focus on four friends (and a dog) it at least offers a fleeting human perspective on a new kind of war that turned out to be far, far worse in its mechanised violence than anybody was quite expecting."
Ubisoft hasn't yet said whether Child of Light and Valiant Hearts will be digital-only releases on Switch, or if physical versions are planned. I'll update this story should more details come in.