Child of Light is Ubisoft Montreal’s “playable poem”: a side-scrolling homage to Final Fantasy VIII and Studio Ghibli

Child of Light

When Ubisoft Montpellier unveiled the clever-clever UbiArt Framework that allowed them to piece together and animate Rayman Origins’ astonishing 2D moving parts in record time, it was clear it would be used for great things. Child of Light is that great thing: a side-scrolling “fairytale game” built by Montpellier’s flagship sister studio in Montreal, designed to captured the “Squaresoft spirit” of the earliest PlayStation JRPGs.

Far Cry 3 creative director Patrick Plourde has led development on the small-scale “internal indie title” that’s “rejecting the testosterone” of his previous work. He described Child of Light as a Limbo-meets-Final-Fantasy-VI counterpoint to the somewhat “masculine” FPS he’d fostered.

The game is designed to look like a “living painting”, and will feature a turn-based battle system.

Speaking at GDC Europe, Plourde named Final Fantasy VIII and Vagrant Story as specific reference points, as well as the “really inspiring” work of Japanese illustrator Yoshitaka Amano and Studio Ghibli’s Walt Disney, Hayao Miyazaki.

Disney’s own Snow White and early 20th century children’s books were also namedropped during the presentation. In fact, those on the ground at GDC reported waist-level floods of names that recalled scenes atArkane’s Dishonored art talk in March.

It’s an interesting time to dig up this interview with Plourde over at the UbiWorkshop site, and to remember that creative inspiration is often borne from frustration: “Games lack variety in the content – especially ‘AAA’s,” he wrote in 2011. “Looking at it with a little distance, the offering is limited. I am afraid that as much as I got bored of being the 14 year old suffering amnesia in JRPGs and stopped playing that, I’m getting bored of being the bad-ass savior of worlds.”

Plourde calls the game a “potential next-gen IP”, which suggests we won’t be seeing it before Christmas. But GDC organiser Simon Carless has said we’re in for a trailer in two weeks’ time.

What do you make of Ubi Montreal’s bright new child?