As Child of Light's PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 3 release date draws ever nearer, the throwback retro-inspired JRPG continues to throw up little surprises. For example, at first glance the game's beautifully crafted hand drawn and water coloured aesthetics – powered by the UbiArt engine – lend it a look resonant of genre classics of yore. It might come as a surprise, then, that the development team is comprised largely of the same people that brought us Far Cry 3.
Speaking at PAX East, the game's writer Jeffrey Yohalem continued to weave surprise into the title's pre-release build-up by stating that, although it may look whimsical on the surface, beneath lies a "hardcore" JRPG experience. "Child of Light is a JRPG, meaning that [protagonist] Aurora gains experience and levels up, working with partners in a battle area to take on enemies as well as an epic world that she moves through," he said in an interview with Polaris. "The game is [playable] in co-op... on the couch co-op, so you're talking to the person next to you and interfacing. For me this is a game about growing up, Aurora gains experience, gains levels, so she herself grows up over the course of the game and will become a fully-grown woman by the end.
"We have a timeline at the bottom of the screen, and that allows the second player to slow down and heal Aurora, so that adds all of this depth to the turn-based system because the second player could actually make the enemies lose turns and can change a battle from a loss condition to a win condition. That sort of team work is very exciting and adds new depth to [battles]."
He continued: "Also, we wanted to simplify some of the complex JRPG structures in order to allow people who are not fans of JRPGs to play. After playing [the game] a lot, I really love the depth to the system. I think that if you play without understanding the depth, you can still win, especially on normal – but if you play on hard, it's a hardcore JRPG." The question is: are you ready to face that sort of challenge?