Ubisoft's Japanese role-playing game-inspired adventure title, Child of Light, will feature a playable supporting character named Igniculus, who was included because the development team wanted to make a game that families and friends could play together.
The game's main character is a young princess who goes on an adventure through strange parts of the world, fighting monsters and enemies in a coming-of-age story. The supporting character — a spark of light named Igniculus — can be controlled by a second player, who actively helps the main character both in solving puzzles and in battles. Together they explore the fairy tale-inspired world.
"I'm a father, and fairy tales are about parents telling their children stories that carry values," said creative director Patrick Plourde. "So one day our marketing director said, 'Why don't you make a game where you can play with your son?' and I was like, 'Ah! That's so true!'
"It's fun to share an adventure. Ni no Kuni is a great game, and it looks like it was made for the whole family, but you're playing alone. You can't be with your son or daughter and play together because it's only single-player."
"It's good to share moments and it can be with a child or it can be with anybody."
For Child of Light, Plourde wanted to develop a game where players can go at it solo if they choose, but if a parent wants to jump in and play with their child (or vice versa), there's a supporting character who makes a big difference in the game experience.
Plourde told Polygon that it was important that the game didn't have too many menus because a lot of very young children can't yet read. He said that as much as he loves the tactical choices offered by JRPGs, he wanted to try offering that same level of tactical play without the menus.
"So I had the idea of what if we took the Super Mario Galaxy approach where you have a character that helps? What if he could move around on the screen and it's not a nuisance for the parent?
"But the thing I felt was missing in Super Mario Galaxy was the second character is not really helping. You just collect coins. It's not a collaboration — you're more of a spectator."
In Child of Light, the supporting character will be able to help at every stage of the game. When exploring environments, the main character will encounter enemies, and these will trigger battles in the same way that most JRPG battle systems do. In these situations, Igniculus can shine his light on the enemies, blinding them temporarily so the princess can run through an area and avoid a fight.
During battles, Igniculus can slow down enemies. Every character in a battle has to wait until their personal timer ticks over before they can launch into an attack. If Igniculus hovers over an enemy, it slows down their timer, delaying their attack. He can also heal members of his party by absorbing magic and energy from the environment.
Plourde told Polygon that his goal is to make the game a shared experience in the same way that watching sports can be a shared experience.
"Watching sports with a child, when the team scores a goal then daddy's happy and the kid is happy, then we're giving each other high-fives," he said. "You should have those moments with games. It's good to share moments and it can be with a child or it can be with anybody."