Ubisoft Montreal's Child of Light is every bit as worthwhile as the stereotypical 60 dollar boxed blockbuster release, creative director Patrick Plourde has told OXM. Moreover, he feels there's an unacknowledged appetite for more original, unfamiliar games, even when it comes to so-called "mainstream" audience demographics.
"We have the opportunity to make something creative," Plourde told Aoife at Ubisoft's digital game showcase in Paris yesterday. "And technically, the risk is not to take any risks."
He feels there's little sense to aping ideas other developers are better-positioned to execute. "You see some small games and say, you're doing a cheap rip-off of some FPS, I'm going to play Call of Duty instead. But by going off on a different angle, the more different we are, it's like OK - this is original, and it's entertaining, and people are looking for that."
Child of Light is a side-scrolling JRPG with platform and puzzle elements, trussed up in a bewitching painterly art style that draws upon the works of Studio Ghibli, Final Fantasy artist Yoshitaka Amano and John Bauer, among others. It casts you as a princess who must restore the sun, moon and stars in order to overthrow an evil queen. During battle, a second player can assist by magically delaying enemy attacks.
Plourde praised the work of Telltale, thatgamejourney and others for dislodging preconceptions about the kinds of videogames that turn a profit. "The Walking Dead and Journey, for them, I'm really grateful, because they changed the perception, and it's going to evolve more and more.
"There's this perception that if it's not on a disc or it doesn't retail for 60 dollars, it's not worth it. And that mentality is changing. For me Child of Light is as valuable is a 60 dollar game and it's as long, it's a long game - more than 10 hours, easily. Just the demo you can play for like an hour, and the demo is the smallest chunk we could do that would show a boss fight."
Ubisoft has already tried the game out on testers who roughly correspond to the Dudebro cliché, and has been pleasantly surprised by the results. "I think really, people are just looking for something different - and there are a lot of 'bros' who have Totoro plushies at home. Or maybe Grave of the Fireflies is their favourite movie."
Child of Light is down for release in 2014 for Xbox 360, Xbox One, PC and the rest. Pricing has yet to be announced. Watch out for a hands-on preview from Aoife later today.