Each party member and enemy has an action bar that fills, although this can be interrupted by some attacks. Once mine is full, I choose from a selection of RPG combat clichés: use a potion, cast a spell, execute a melee attack, or defend. Meanwhile, Igniculus floats around the screen – controlled by a second player, if you have one – blinding enemies with bursts of light and healing the fighters.
Before levelling up and establishing a tactic, I discover and get brutally cut down by a dragon boss. After a few lesser fights, however, I develop a nearly infallible flowchart strategy. Finn always guards, giving him total protection from one attack, or heals Aurora, while Aurora always attacks. Since the enemies focus on Finn, we’re tough to take down.
The fight is still close when I return to the boss – his double attacks break through Finn’s defence – but with a group healing spell and Aurora’s earth magic, the beast falls right on cue, before his final attack can finish us off.
That’s the way of the classic Japanese RPG (or in this case, French Canadian). Go as far as you can until you die, and by the time you get back you’ll have accrued enough experience to wreck a oncechallenging enemy and adventure on to the next. As progression leads to new spells, stat enhancements, party members, and enemies, it’s apparent that Child of Light’s by-the-book combat will become more complex and harrowing. The juxtaposed floating sidescrolling, however, is incongruously sweet and simple, and left me with a better impression.
It takes some skill to hit the snaking chains of mana orbs in the correct order, but the exploration is otherwise gentle. Aurora will surely float into trickier, more dangerous environments and puzzles, but even when its easy, Child of Light holds my attention with its style and cheer.