The creative duo that made one of the most violent and disturbing first-person shooter games of 2012 — Far Cry 3 — has taken a big turn into a very different kind of game about a princess. Child of Light is a multiplatform game with a deep story but a decidedly more cartoonish touch than the ultrarealistic jungle combat of the Far Cry universe.
Child of Light is the first original game from the creators: Patrick Plourde, the creative director, and Jeffrey Yohalem (pictured), the lead writer. It is about a princess named Aurora, the daughter of a duke in Austria, in the year 1895. She wakes up in a lost continent of Lemuria, where many of the people have been turned into ravens. The sun, the moon, and the stars have all been stolen by the Black Queen. It’s an epic journey of growth that will change all of the characters involved.
The game has an art style and story inspired by Japanese role-playing games. There’s a lot of secrets, adventure, and character development.
“It’s a journey from black-and-white, darkness, to light and color,” said Yohalem, who works at the Ubisoft Montreal studio. “My games have always dealt with themes of growth and the challenges of life.”
You can’t get a bigger change than making Far Cry, a game about killing and the gameplay loop that keeps encouraging you to kill. In this game, you level up and follow Aurora’s story, in which she is transformed into someone else.
“It was a fascinating challenge to me,” said Yohalem, talking about the dramatic shift from Far Cry 3 to the princess game. “We got together in a room and figured it out. If you stop as a creator, you are no longer challenging yourself or growing. It’s a journey I want to go on with players, too.”
If Yohalem hadn’t been able to make the game at Ubisoft, he might have considered other measures. Chris Early, the head of digital publishing at Ubisoft, said in an interview that the company encourages creativity and wants its talent to be happy making the kinds of games they are passionate about. So it’s not unusual that Yohalem and Plourde were encouraged to follow their muse and make Child of Light. They didn’t have to leave to join a startup so they could do something new.
“This is my first [intellectual property] that I’ve created from scratch, with Pat,” Yohalem said. “I always follow my heart. The company knows that. If I hadn’t been able to do this, it would have been a very difficult decision for me.”
Child of Light will come out on current-generation consoles, next-generation consoles, and the PC in 2014. The game is being built with the UbiArt Framework, which takes concept art and automatically turns it into an animated scene. That reduces the cost of the art and enables a very small team to come up with a creative title.