The easiest thing for an RPG to do is screw up its soundtrack. It’s such an effortless thing to do too; players spend time exploring their environments and it would be so easy for the environmental music to become ambient and inconsequential, and ultimately forgettable. Child of Light, an RPG that actively encourages player exploration, does not fall into that trap.
I’m not familiar with the works of Béatrice Martin (or Cœur de pirate), the Canadian singer-songwriter, but after having the Child of Light soundtrack on loop for the past couple of weeks since I beat it, you can call me a fan. Child of Light’s soundtrack is mostly made up of serene piano pieces that go with the whimsical, fairytale-like tone of the game. Because there isn’t any spoken dialogue for the most part of the game, the music itself becomes crucial to setting its tone.
Since Child of Light is a coming-of-age story that centers around Aurora, a small child struggling to find her way home, let’s start with her character theme, shall we? Aurora’s Theme is one that plays during many key portions of the game. It’s a melancholic piano piece, complete with a few string instruments to supplement the emotional turmoil that Aurora herself goes through. Aurora also has a magic flute that she uses to play this theme whenever one of her party members needs some cheering up. It’s a soothing melody that acknowledges the sorrow of a character, but comes with the uplifting promise that the story will eventually get its good ending.
Aurora’s Theme does a great job of associating itself with the character and it’s a track that players won’t soon forget. While the original theme itself is wonderful, my personal favorite iteration of Aurora’s Theme is called Final Breath. It’s a much slower version of Aurora’s Theme and really helps to bring out the mournful tones of the game and Aurora herself. This particular version of the theme only plays a couple of times in the game but, without spoiling too much of the story, it hits all the right beats and does a great job of tugging at the heartstrings.
A lot of the tracks sound very wistful and somewhat forlorn, and this works well because you have been thrown into a world ruled by the Black Queen, after all. The environmental themes such as Patches of Sky and Down to a Dusty Plain also utilize the piano as the primary instrument. The tracks are plaintive but they also sound almost freeing at the same time, which is rather effective because Aurora herself has the ability to fly freely around the areas.
It’s odd because even though you’ve been thrown into dangerous dungeons with monsters and traps lurking everywhere, the music itself urges you to take your time with it. The music is comforting and seems to encourage players to take in the beauty of the dungeon’s art design. If I wasn’t busy trying to prevent enemies from getting the drop on me, I could almost marvel at how well Child of Light has unified the themes of beauty and danger.
Child of Light’s soundtrack isn’t just filled with slow piano pieces though. Another one of my favorite tracks is the boss battle theme titled Metal Gleamed in the Twilight. Now this is an intense one. You could put this track into a Disney movie with epic fights and chase sequences, and it wouldn’t sound out of place at all. Metal Gleamed in the Twilight comprises of string instruments and a soft drum, creating a sense of quiet urgency while never quite losing that sense of desperation you feel while trying to take down a forest giant. This orchestral piece really stands out from the rest of the soundtrack because it forcefully commands your attention. And when you enter a boss battle with this track playing in the background, you won’t be able to tear your focus away.
Hymn of Light is a track reserved for the final boss at the endgame, and is one of the best final boss themes I’ve ever had the pleasure of listening to. It’s a culmination of all the painful and hopeful experiences of Aurora’s journey. The drums do an effective job of driving home the point that this is the final struggle you have to overcome to get your happy ending. Hymn of Light feels like such a character-driven theme, especially after players have had the time to get attached to Aurora and feel her sense of purpose in getting to the end. I’m not quite sure how else I can describe this theme without spewing the word “epic” over and over again.
And last, but certainly not the least, Child of Light closes the storybook adventure with a beautiful ballad titled Off To Sleep. Martin shows off her lovely vocals in this track, accompanied by a piano, of course. Not unlike most of the other tracks in Child of Light, this one exudes a quality of tranquility and enchantment. It’s a great way to end off the game because of how the lyrics sing of light and hope, which is what Aurora yearns for throughout her entire journey.
Child of Light’s soundtrack is one that I’d play in the car when I go out for an evening drive. Overall, it’s a beautiful collection of soothing pieces that are perfect for listening while you’re studying or if you’re in a reflective mood. The music isn’t intrusive at all and flows well from one track to the next. Just like the game itself with its rhyming dialogue, the soundtrack tells a story through its music and subtle beats. If you’re a fan of the piano and classical music in general, this soundtrack is one that you can’t pass up.
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