A Closer Look At Child Of Light, Ubisoft's Lovely New JRPG

If you're anything like me — If you have a beating heart and like video games — you probably watched the debut trailer for Child of Light and thought, "I want to play this."

But what's the game itself all about; how does it work? I had a chance to play through an opening chapter last week at Ubisoft's press event. I also spoke quite a bit with the game's creative director Patrick Plourde and lead writer Jeffrey Yohalem, whose last collaboration, Far Cry 3, so impressed us last fall.

Ubisoft sent over some B-roll footage of the areas I played through, and I thought I'd edit it all together into the video above. I've also added commentary to help explain how everything works. For the most part it's a pretty straightforward game — 2D puzzle/platforming mixed with JRPG combat.

The co-op mechanics, however, are really cool — a second player can take command of Aurora's glowing companion, helping her solve puzzles and gather power-ups in the overworld and healing her and blinding enemies in combat. Plourde said that he added co-op because as much as he wanted to play the lovely JRPG Ni no Kuni with his son, there wasn't a way for them to play together.

Also: I have seen a lot of spirited discussion under my initial post about the idea of whether non-Japanese developers can make a "JRPG." As far as I'm concerned, the signifier has transcended geography — it's a useful distinction, nothing more. As commenter Ultraviper so adroitly put it: "Can you call a taco Mexican food if it's not made in Mexico?"

But! The distinction is not lost on me. I actually spoke at length with Plourde and Yohalem about why they decided to make a JRPG (or "JRPG-style") game, and will have more on that soon. In the meantime, check out Child of Light in action. I think it looks pretty darn cool.


    I think JRPG and WRPG are a style now, rather than a location. I don't consider Dark Souls to be a JRPG, even though its arguably an RPG made by Japanese developers.

    Kind of like how some of the bands classified in 'Seattle sound' weren't from Seattle.

      But you can't add turn based battles to a platform/puzzle game and call it a JRPG.

      And I still think location/culture etc play a part in that "J" in JRPG.

        OdinSphere begs to differ.

          Once it has begged, I will inform Odin Sphere that it is an ARPG, very stylistically different for a "JRPG" borrowing only a few elements from traditional RPGs. We'll have a great time. Snacks will be involved.

            OdinSphere was definitely a poor example - I can see that perspective (and wikipedia certainly agrees with you), but I still think of OdinSphere in as a JRPG due to the style and tone.

    Looks really awesome, and think that the co-op with children mechanic is brilliant. If it comes off well and works as intended it could be an idea that is copied a lot
    I would have to disagree and side with the people who say this isn't a jrpg. I have no issue calling western developed games jrpgs if they follow what i consider to be the jrpg style. I would more consider this a platformer with jrpg elements or jrpg combat.
    To use your example if I replaced the mince and beans in a taco with duck and peking sauce I would still say it was a taco, but wouldn't consider it to be mexican even if it still used many of the elements of a mexican taco.

    This game is certainly on my list of games to watch and very happy that it will be coming to PC

    Even ignoring the whole "where it's made" argument, I still wouldn't call it a JRPG...

      I've stated before, (damn kotaku writers and troglodyte commenters disagreed, though they are still wrong).
      JRPG is not a game made in japan, it transcended that nonsense years ago, JRPG and WRPG are genres, as thom says above.

      This, however, is no where near a jrpg and I wouldn't touch it with a 10 foot pole, it is hardly brilliant or gorgeous, it looks like a water drawing, ugh f'ing hideous.

        A JRPG does not have to be strictly made in Japan, but it's soul is definitely rooted there. It's like an anime (Defined as a word distinguishing Japanese animation from Western animation) doesn't have to be created in Japan, but the design aesthetics, symbology, characterisations, themes, culture and other elements are all based off the Japanese ideologies which is why the "J" is added to the start.

          That pretty much sums it up, Its the feel of the game and it's subtle nuances along with story/gameplay and other elements.

          Can have a perfectly good jrpg made in Africa by Ugandans or what have you as long as it has the above, else it becomes something else.

          Last edited 12/09/13 11:51 am

    The battle music sounds like the rewind music from Braid.

    nice art style ..... but it doesnt look that good in the zoomed dialog scenes

    It's like a more child-oriented and lovely looking Valkyrie Profile. From what I've seen though, it's no more a JRPG than Faery: Legends of Avalon, which is to say, it's not. Stats, turn based combat and skill trees only gets it an RPG status. To get the "J" part, you need to incorporate elements of Japanese mythology, beliefs, culture, symbology and aesthetics which this has not shown evidence of yet. You can buy a Taco, but if you just have meat and lettuce in a corn chip shell, it's not really Mexican food. It needs to incorporate the spices, sauces and other elements that give it that Mexican taste for it to be a true Mexican dish.

    Genre semantics aside, the game itself looks like it could be fun and full of atmosphere. Not really sure about the combat though, it looks like it might interrupt the pacing and feel tacked on rather than an integrated part of the exploration.

    As an old(er) gamer, I admit that it's been a long, long time since I last found a game to be "enchanting."

    Having said that... this game is enchanting.

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