When Child of Light was released in 2014, it was well-received by major outlets and players alike. The game was praised for its gorgeous aesthetic, incredible soundtrack, and a unique and challenging combat system. However, some of the game's criticisms included a lack of character customization, simplistic skill trees, jarring rhyming dialogue, and easy battles. But despite these criticisms, one important point remains: we need more games like Child of Light.
In a Polygon interview with the game's creative director, Patrick Plourde, he explained that the game came about because he wanted to play something with his son. The character of Igniculus, therefore, was meant to be played by a second player. Since this was a game created with a child and a parent in mind, it easily explains the simple skill trees, the fairy-tale story, and the ease of the combat system.
Nowadays, we expect a lot from our games. We relish in challenging combat, and we enjoy painstakingly selecting the right skill to buff in a skill tree that expands multiple screens. We appreciate characters who are powerful, strong leaders who get impossible jobs done or the unexpected hero who faces insurmountable odds. And we love an arsenal of weapons at our disposal because sometimes we feel like a warhammer, and other times we feel like a sniper rifle.
But there is something to be said about a simple system and a good story with mature themes that can spark a discussion between friends or a parent and their child. We don't always need an overly complicated skill system or an overwhelming selection of items that we can equip or stats to agonize over. Sometimes, what we need is a beautiful fairy tale game that hits upon themes of loss, helplessness, hope, and triumph. Games that speak to us and give us characters with whom we can connect. These games also allow us to bring others in to share the experience with us in a non-combative setting.
And that's Child of Light. It's a fantastical tale of good versus evil, of coming into one's own, of becoming a shining beacon of hope when everything just seems on the verge of collapse. Yes, at its core, it's a melancholy tale of a little girl losing her father and fighting her way back to him. And it is a story of a father tragically losing his daughter. But what comes from this tragedy is what makes Aurora's story hopeful and uplifting. It's a journey we can all appreciate.
Unfortunately, we will never see Child of Light 2, but luckily some games are picking up the mantle like Spiritfarer, Hoa, The Last Campfire, and The Long Return. The downside is that these are solely single-player experiences. What we need are more co-op stories that we can share with our children and our friends. Perhaps in time, other AAA studios will look back at Child of Light and see that there is an audience for such stories.