Mass Effect Remastered | Child of Light
An epic returns to start again, and a little girl saves a kingdom with some help from her friends.
GAME REVIEW /// Mass Effect Remastered
Game summary: As Commander Shepard, you lead an elite squad on a heroic, action-packed adventure throughout the galaxy. Discover the imminent danger from an ancient threat and battle the traitorous Saren and his deadly army to save civilization. (Steam / Legendary Edition)
'Remaster' is just about the correct term for this Legendary Edition of Mass Effect, although it has been spruced up in a few other areas that start edging it towards 'remake' territory, as it's now definitely more enjoyable to play. Seriously, the Mass Effect trilogy is easily my favourite gaming experience, but it was always a chore to get through the first game thanks to how poorly it controlled - something that is no longer an issue.
Well, not that much of an issue. It's still slower-paced than the sequels and the combat is still not quite as fluid as it could be either, but it's still enough of an upgrade to be appreciable in comparison to what came before. The Mako, the team's six-wheeled tank/buggy, has also had an upgrade, with extra boosters to help you out of any tricky spots when climbing some bizarre terrain.
To be fair, I liked the Mako originally, so the boosters were a chance to piss about and really push the boat out in vehicular combat, which is a lot more enjoyable thanks to how overpowered the bloody thing is now - when not fighting Thresher Maws. Those giant, acid-spitting worms have received a 'remake' too, becoming a genuinely scary opponent that can destroy your vehicle with very little effort, so just be aware of how much damage you're taking when fighting one of the things.
The rest of Mass Effect Remastered is still as excellent as it always was, with brilliant characters written and performed to near-perfection, with a galaxy-spanning story that puts all recent efforts from the likes of Star Wars or Star Trek to shame. There's the odd clunky line or character beat, which you'd expect from a game that'll take you around 20-25 hours to finish, but nothing that spoils the excellent world-building on display.
While I do think things could've been taken a little further (adding some variety to the identikit buildings on non-story planets for starters), this is as good an update as I was hoping for, not just giving everything a fresh coat of Ultra HD paint, but also tweaking little bits here and there to bring it in line with the later games. I can't wait to dig into the sequels if this is the standard that's been set.
Mass Effect Remastered takes what was always a good game and nudges it up a notch, even if it's still a little wonky to control in places. While the amount of planetary exploration gives the sense of a huge universe, a lot of the side stuff feels very repetitive in content and visually, a shame considering how incredible this 14-year old game looks, especially coupled with what has always been one of gaming's best scores.
[8/10 - Very Good]
GAME REVIEW /// Child of Light
Game summary: The Black Queen has stolen the Sun, the Moon and the Stars. You play as Aurora, a young princess with a pure heart whose soul is brought to the kingdom of Lemuria. Embark on a quest to recapture the three sources of light, defeat the Black Queen and restore the kingdom of Lemuria. (Ubisoft)
I think I got Child of Light for free, or in a bundle of some kind, but I have to say that I wouldn't have been too upset if I had bought the game, even if it couldn't keep me interested enough to finish it. Yes, if you think reviews mean having to complete a game, then you can stop reading now, but why I couldn't complete it is why it gets the score it does.
Checking a guide, I got to around the halfway point but then couldn't get the time free to play it for a week or so and never felt strongly enough about going back - the main reason being that I hadn't really done anything new for hours. You accumulate quite the set of characters, so you do get to try out new abilities and combinations in the not-quite-turn-based combat, but that doesn't change things enough.
Once you've gone the short distance into the story that grants Aurora, who you control outside of combat, the ability to fly, you're pretty much done with learning how the gameplay in Child of Light works. You flit around the screen - followed by your firefly/sprite friend, Igniculus, who you or a second player can also control - searching for secrets of finding items, occasionally interrupted by fighting.
It's the fighting that really put me off the most, because so little changes from the first few fights that it turns into quite the chore. Also, I don't really know why there are RPG elements in this game because I never once felt like I was gaining in power - if enemies are going to permanently in-step with your characters, why not just give the player every 'level up' at the start and cut that content from the game?
To be completely honest, if I knew I could dip back into the game, do a few fights and save before quitting, grinding my characters to become more powerful and make the combat a more trivial piece of the game, I likely would've continued as there's nothing wrong with the underlying mechanics and some of them can be challenging fun. Unfortunately, most become tedious affairs with you fighting the same enemies over and over again with no sense of growing strong enough to get through it any more easily than previous battles.
I'll end the negativity there though, because aside from the repetitive nature of the combat, Child of Light is a wonderful game. The watercolour painting style for the backgrounds, coupled with characters looking like they were cut out of illustrated children's fairy tale books, is just gorgeous to look at and it's very easy to create some beautiful screenshots that could serve as desktop backgrounds as a result.
The score is also fantastic, starting right from the title screen and a continuous pleasure for the ears once in the game. There's no spoken dialogue as far as I can remember (at the time of writing this, it's been about a month since I last played the game), but it's not really missed either. Most of the dialogue is in rhyme and it's fun to read even without a voice to go with it.
Child of Light controls beautifully too, ensuring that it never feels unfair and there's not a single point that I got annoyed with the game due to the controls - aside from one fight where the enemies kept stunning my characters to the point that I basically just watched them slowly get killed. Then again, that's still more combat design than the controls which are simple enough that even inexperienced players should find it easy enough to pick up.
To really ram the biggest point home in ironic fashion, it's the repetition which did the game in for me. It really is a fantastic game from an audio-visual and gameplay perspective, but I just don't have the time or patience to effectively keep doing almost exactly the same thing over and over again for the hours left it would take to push through.
If you've got a small or no backlog of other games to play, or maybe you blitz through games at high speed, or even if you just have a lot of free time to spare, then I would fully recommend playing Child of Light. If you don't have the time to spare or just not enough to race through it for the story, then it gets trickier - if you have it in your library, play it and enjoy the good stuff, because there is plenty to like here.
Child of Light is a really well made game that unfortunately suffers from a high degree of repetition - once you've played a couple of hours, you've experienced everything the game has to offer. That said, it's still gorgeous to look at, with a phenomenal score and it really is simple and fun to play. If only there was more variety to keep it interesting.