A 2-review double-whammy!
So after about 4 months of playing on-and-off, I finished and completed Child of Light. This game has been critically acclaimed, so the fact that only about 2.7k people have rated the game suggests not many people have played it, which makes me sad.
However, unlike those various critics I follow, I wasn't exactly blown away by Child of Light. It comes off like a high-concept children's fantasy, which is absolutely fine. What I mean is, one critic in particular gave off the impression that this game was a fantastic work of art that everyone should buy...I wouldn't go that far.
In most ways, the game can be considered perfect. Its style of story, the story itself, the animation and graphics, the music, the charming script. The gameplay style is that of 2D side-view free-roam platforming, which turns into a turn-based RPG as soon as you come across an enemy. However, gameplay could have been a tad improved (why could I only ever fight with 2 party members instead of 3 at times?) and the final battle, or climax, was ultimately disappointing. I basically went up against a 3-headed Dark Hydra and defeated her in the end with basically just 2 characters, with a third used at the end. The boss right before that was far more entertaining, with me basically being forced to use every character in my party. Another note, why oh why was I forced to re-watch the cut scene each time I lost and had to restart the boss battle? That was very annoying and discouraged me from playing a few nights.
The story of Child of Light is as follows: you play as Princess Aurora (get it?), a young girl in 19th Century Austria, who one night goes to sleep and is presumed to have died in the night. However, she wakes up in a fantasy realm. She finds out that the Dark Queen has enslaved the kingdom of Lemuria, so with the help of her friends, she has to defeat the Queen and get back to Austria, to reach her father before he succumbs to his own sickness. This premise alone was what encouraged me to get the game, I must admit.
In contrast, roughly an hour ago, I just finished playing The Order | 1886. I had been hyped to play this game ever since the PS4 was announced and I got done playing it in a week. (Would have been sooner had I chosen to not have a social life for a week.)
The reason why I contrast this? Well, the critical reviews have not been so kind, giving this game average scores. To be fair, the game deserves the mediocre scores; it's not exactly great. But I love it to a ridiculous level!
Pros: The world is fantastic and greatly developed, the performances from the mo-cap and voice actors excellent, the music is top-notch, the graphics are sharp and beautiful, the character animations are detailed, the scripting is on-the-ball and even provides some well-timed humour here and there. I love the mythos of this game so much I'm desperate for a sequel; I greatly appreciated the nods to actual historical culture of the era. I enjoyed the uses of the camera angles, so gameplay and cutscene fit seamlessly together, which managed to set the mood perfectly each time; the seamless blending of gameplay and cutscene in this game was even better than in The Last of Us. Also, I love the swordplay or blade combat.
Cons: The controls aren't always that intuitive in combat (it's mostly duck-and-cover combat), the shoot-outs get long, boring and arduous a lot of the time, I really did not like the controls for the Arc Gun and found to my chagrin that I couldn't modify the controls to better suit my preferences, the quick-time events could have been better programmed and tested; to elaborate I especially hated the fact that if you snuck up behind an enemy you had to time when you pushed the triangle button, which was very annoying because I wanted to just tap it whenever and then the guy would turn around. Grr! Also, battling werewolves is very annoying and tedious. And that blade combat I love? You only get to do it twice.
Bizarre observations: Lafayette keeps inserting gratuitous French. I don't understand why he'd do that as his English is excellent, his name and accent give his nationality away so the random French sentences add up to nothing. Another observation is that the game sometimes tries too hard to be Heavy Rain. I also got turned off by the fact that in a stealthy section of the game, you were still obliged to kill security, as opposed to just sneak past them like in a certain beloved franchise of mine; why couldn't the player have a choice? And what was up with the pause menu not allowing you to get back to the game by hitting the menu button? If you were in a sub-menu, you had to exit first. That was very annoying. And does the screen have to be bordered by the black bars on the top and bottom? (The game was letter-boxed to make it feel more filmic - developers' own description.)
Extra observation: This game is loaded with gold and silver trophies. I had to laugh when my first trophy was a "rare" secret gold trophy, unlocked by getting 5 headshots when in blacksight mode. This you activate and then make time slow down Matrix style. I've got 60% of the trophies already, so...I might just go back and get the rest :D
The story of The Order | 1886 is as follows: you play as a member of Her Majesty's Knights aka. The Order of the Round Table in an alternate 1886, where the supernatural is real and the original Knights of the Round Table found the Holy Grail, which contained Blackwater, a liquid that heals all wounds and extends life. Only sworn knights may drink this liquid, as doing so obliges them to a life of service in defending the realm and battling supernatural creatures. Well, not just supernatural creatures. So, technology has advanced wildly differently from our own universe, so the game sees machine guns and railguns, alongside many airships, alongside black and white photos and malt being used as a cure-all. It's a truly bizarre universe that just somehow works. So you play as Sir Galahad - not the original Galahad, that is just his codename. His real name is ostensibly Grayson, age unknown (but at least 500 years old). I don't want to give away much more than that as part of the fun with this game was the way they didn't explain everything right off the bat, which made me want to play more and as soon as possible to find out the answers. And the game ends with still many questions! The style of the game plays like a TV period piece, so it definitely feels like an 'adult' game (in that it treats you like a smart person and doesn't airbrush anything).
So yeah, the fact that I derived much more enjoyment from a game that is of lower quality and rated lower than some of the more...acclaimed games, well it just shows how the power of subjectivity truly holds sway.