A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know Child of Light is a turn-based role-playing game with a cast composed mostly of strong female characters, including a young princess, her friends, and several female villains. The heroines are clever, caring, resourceful, and independent, and none of them are sexualized. In battle they and their male companions wield swords and magic, but there's no gore or sensational violence. Damage to enemies both human and fantastical is depicted via flashes of light, and defeated foes simply fall to the ground and disappear. The ESRB rates this game for ages ten and up due to fantasy violence, but it's relatively mild. You might consider letting slightly younger kids play.
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What's it about?
An adolescent 19th century European princess finds herself whisked away to the fantastical land of Lemuria in Ubisoft Montreal's downloadable RPG CHILD OF LIGHT. The new world in which she finds herself -- two-dimensional and hand-painted -- is beautiful and mysterious, and filled with bizarre creatures. Some of its inhabitants are friendly, and several even join her on her journey. Others are entities of darkness, and move to attack at first glance. Armed only with her courage and a sword she finds embedded in a stone, the princess tries to make her way back to her world, solving puzzles, finding treasures, and engaging in plenty of turn-based battles along the way. Then, just when it seems she's about to complete her quest, things take an unexpected and dreadful turn that leaves her more lost and alone -- yet even more resolute -- than ever before.
Is it any good?
Set in front of a gorgeous backdrop of living paintings and starring a cast filled with smart and independent female characters both good and evil, Child of Light is an original and daring role-playing game. It challenges many accepted notions associated with role-playing games -- not least of which is its dialogue, which is presented in poetic verse. Yet at the same time it pays homage to RPGs of decades past, delivering a compelling active-time turn-based battle system, rewarding character growth, lots of hidden treasure chests to open, and even a bit of gemstone crafting to upgrade characters' stats and abilities.
Plus, it's accessible to a broad range of players. Despite the predominantly female cast, there's nothing here that ought to turn off boys. And with a couple of well-constructed difficultly levels and storytelling that keeps things simple without dumbing anything down, it's that rare game that can be appreciated by players young and old. Indeed, the best way to play may be with an older player controlling Aurora and her party and a younger one in charge of the delightful little firefly that zips around the world and battlefield, helping by distracting enemies and picking up bits of energy floating in the air. Regardless of how you play, though, there's little doubt Child of Light is one of the best family-friendly downloadable games of the year.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how girls and women are depicted in games. In your experience, what stereotypes do female characters tend to suffer? Do you think Aurora and her friends conform to any of these stereotypes?
Families can also discuss art in games. Child of Light has an imaginative style that feels almost like a painting come to life. Would you have preferred something that looked more as though it were generated by a computer, as in most other games? Why or why not?
- Platforms: Nintendo Wii U, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Windows, Xbox 360, Xbox One
- Subjects: Language & Reading: reading
- Skills: Thinking & Reasoning: solving puzzles, strategy
Emotional Development: empathy, persevering
Collaboration: cooperation, meeting challenges together, teamwork
- Price: $19.99
- Pricing structure: Paid
- Available online? Available online
- Developer: UbiSoft
- Release date: April 29, 2014
- Genre: Role-Playing
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Princesses, Fairies, Mermaids, and More, Great Girl Role Models
- ESRB rating: E10+ for Fantasy Violence
- Last updated: November 11, 2020
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.