Want to talk about shifting gears? How about going from making Far Cry 3, an intriguingly exotic and violent first-person shooter, to Child of Light, a softly toned, beautiful, turn-based RPG adventure that holds firmly to classic fairytale stylings?
First instinct might be to hope those involved aren't going mad from the switch-up, but that seems far from the case. In an interview with Red Bull, creative director Patrick Plourde said he welcomed the change of pace between his two projects at Ubisoft:
From the start, I wanted to make a game that would be the complete opposite of Far Cry 3: poetic instead of violent, nostalgic instead of psychotic. Child of Light is created to generate a different set of emotions. It’s important for me to be able to change tone from one project to another, otherwise it gets boring.
The differences between the cores of the two game are also felt by writer Jeffrey Yohalem, who described the intentions of each:
Far Cry 3 raged, Child of Light builds. While Far Cry 3 came from a place of subversion and anger, this game is about hope.
Plourde said the painting-like world of Lemuria, Child of Light's setting, was inspired by "golden age" fairytale and children's book illustrators including Arthur Rackham, Kay Nielsen, and John Bauer. For the game's structure, he combined the themes of many tales with those of many RPGs:
So while I built up a bank of images that I liked I came to realise that most fairy tales are about growing up; the passage from childhood to adulthood and that the gameplay of RPGs is also about growing up, from weak to strong. It gave me a hook to build the game around.
It was all but decided early on that the main character, Aurora, would be a girl--a princess "who not need to wait for a Prince Charming," according to Plourde. Settling on a design that best presented the qualities sought by the creative director, however, was tricky:
Finding Aurora’s visual identity was not easy. We made a bunch of concepts, but she always looked either too much like a warrior or too much like a doll. In both cases it was not true to her character. One day our art director, Thomas Rollus, made a sketch of her at 6 years old and I immediately fell in love with it. From that point on, there was no question about making Aurora a boy or anything like that – we had found our heroine.
Additional details about the game were shared, including more on Aurora's small, glowing companion, Igniculus. While Igniculus can be controlled by a second player to assist in navigation and puzzle solving, Yohalem implies that he is more than an add-on or afterthought:
Igniculus came into being when Aurora enters Lemuria, so she has a parental relationship with him. Her simple wisdom about the world is passed on. As they both grow, her truths become more complex and, ultimately, their relationship changes. There is a key turning point that I won’t spoil, but the friendship becomes more complicated and is never the same afterward.
Aurora will also come across other characters who will fight alongside her, and 216 skills will be available to unlock among the lot of them through the course of individual skill trees. While the creators note the game has a linear route, there are about a dozen sidequests and two dozen challenge rooms that can be taken on.
How do you feel about the creative choices that have been made for Child of Light? And if you want to hear Plourde, Yohalem and others speaking directly, check out the first "making of" video for the game below.