Do you know how when you go into something with high expectations, you tend to be disappointed? Before playing Child of Light or listening to its soundtrack, I had already heard how wonderful the music was, so when I began to play the game, I was expecting it to be pretty great. Fortunately, in this case, not only was I not disappointed, it was somehow still even better than I thought it would be. Child of Light’s soundtrack is not quite flawless, but it’s pretty damn close.
Pilgrims on a Long Journey kicks the album off with a mysterious and grim feel, setting the atmosphere for the rest of the score. It starts off quite soft, but the power and sense of urgency the piece carries strengthens as it continues, particularly once the strings join the piano. Its hauntingly beautiful melody sets the mood perfectly for many of the following songs.
The game’s title screen music, Aurora’s Theme, manages to retain a sense of uplifting hope while predominantly a sad, serious piece. The piano melody is attention-grabbing and memorable, and the mysterious sounds draw you into a world of fantasy. It’s fortunate that it’s such a beautiful piece, since it’s the backbone of the whole soundtrack. Magna’s Heart is slightly faster, but features a similar melody, while Final Breath is again similar, but slower.
The mix of melancholy and hope is also strongly featured across all songs. Leave Your Castle is one such track, but it’s Patches of Light that executes it perfectly. The song portrays hope in a downtrodden atmosphere. The hopeful piano and sombre strings diverge as the music continues, but the flute brings them back together in perfect unity. It’s a piece where a lot of thought was clearly put into exactly how the instruments interact with each other to create the right mood.
Though soft music is Child of Light’s specialty, it manages to excel with upbeat battle music too. Jupiter’s Lightning creates an intense swirling of emotion as the fight begins with fast, dramatic strings. Dark Creatures is even better with percussion that adds strength to the orchestra. It’s less frantic than Jupiter’s Lightning, but carries a stronger sense of purpose that defines Aurora’s journey. It was my favourite track on the album, and possibly one of the best scores in a game I’ve heard. Boss music Metal Gleamed in Twilight is less intense, but emits a sense of challenge, reminding us of a powerful adversary that must be overcome. Unfortunately, the tempo changes about halfway through and becomes less thrilling.
Combat music aside, the second-half of the album returns to slower, but less remarkable, tunes. Little Girl Gen, Funeral Dirge and Hymn of Light are nice, but ultimately forgettable. Woods Darker Than Night and Down to a Dusty Plain feature strong melodies, but sound more like background music and are not as enjoyable to listen to on their own. Woods Darker Than Night has a creepier feel to it not found in any other music in the game.
Off to Sleep, the final track on the album, is a real hit-or-miss. As the only piece featuring vocals, I found the sudden change incredibly jarring and off-putting. In fact, I struggled to even listen to it the whole way through; it felt so out of place with the rest of the album, even though the accompaniment is similar. Fellow editors had different feelings, however, and quite enjoyed it.
Overall, Child of Light features a soundtrack not to be missed. The mix of soft, sombre melodies and strong, dramatic combat music complement each other perfectly. Piano and strings feature almost exclusively throughout the album and are an elegant joy to hear. Though a few tracks were less remarkable, and I didn’t particularly enjoy the vocals in Off to Sleep, I highly recommend the music regardless of whether you have played, or plan to play, the game.