2014 has been something of a strange year. Acting as the first full year of Playstation 4 and Xbox One’s lives it’s felt a little like a transitional year. New concepts and IP’s take their first steps alongside known quantities to live up to the full promise of “next gen” – and not all of them meet the vast expectations. Many more developers tinker behind the scenes preparing their next gen debut’s busily but behind closed doors – many of the most anticipated games are yet to come. The result is a somewhat quiet year without a clear GOTY, but plenty of great games regardless. Without much more ado, here is the next of my top 10 games of 2014.
If you had one guess at what the team behind Far Cry 3 might go on to do once they were done you’d be forgiven for not thinking of Child of Light. Leaving behind the AAA game scene for a short respite the team swapped murderous pirate infested islands for the telling of a traditional fairy tale. An unusual change of pace, I’m sure we’re agreed, but one that resulted in the creation of a fabulous bite size RPG; overall one of the years most charming and pretty games.
Child of Light takes it’s visual and story telling inspirations from that of traditional fairy tales. The tale of Aurora has all the hallmarks of the stories that were read to you as a child; the magic Disney brought to life in our youth. Wicked steps mums, pure princesses, charming humor and of course a life affirming lesson about friendships – all tropes, all here. The world of Lemuria too was beautiful. Every scene, character and vista worked in cohesive union as a part of one stretching, moving; alive water painting. We’d seen the Ubi-art engine in action before, but in Child of Light it discarded it’s whimsical cartoon aesthetic popularized by Rayman for something wholly more beautiful.
While story telling inspiration was drawn from fairy tales, the gameplay was a finely crafted homage to the Japanese role playing game. Much more of a paper Mario than a Final Fantasy, Child of Light shrugs off deoth for ease of play. Anyone could play Child of Light. Proceeding are kept simple, a straight forward crystal system main gear easy to understand, and a relatively linear skill point system made missing key abilities incredibly hard. The RPG-lite approach and relative ease made Child of Light a joy to play. Levels rack up really quickly; during Child of Lights about 15 hours play time you’ll feel your permanently progressing: new teammates, abilities, locations, loot and more kept me fed like a constant conveyor belt of RPG goodness.
That’s all before I even mention the platformer like exploration which made searching for a loot great fun, and meant evern better looks at the wonderful art work. I don’t know how Ubisfot let the Far Cry 3 team make this game, but I’m sure glad they did.