''Child of Light'' (Ubisoft, for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Wii U, PC, $14.99) doesn't look like any other video game. With its seemingly hand-drawn characters and watercolor backgrounds, it more closely resembles a children's picture book, the kind your mom would read to you before bedtime.
It's a fitting look, since ''Child of Light'' is an interactive fairy tale. It's the story of Aurora, a princess who is transported to a strange world called Lemuria where the sun, moon and stars have vanished. She's armed with an oversized sword and the ability to use light as a weapon. She can also fly, in slow and smooth motions that add to the game's dreamlike mood.
During her journey, Aurora meets a motley assortment of pilgrims, each of whom has lost something. A jester named Rubella is trying to find her brother; a dwarf named Finn has seen all his friends turned into crows; a prison guard named Oengus is trying to restore his lost honor.
Aurora's most dependable companion, though, is Igniculus, a firefly who floats by her side. The light emitted by Igniculus can unlock doors and treasure chests. It can heal Aurora and her friends. And it can distract enemies long enough for Aurora and company to get in a few licks before being attacked.
That last skill comes in handy during the cleverly designed battles, which emphasize strategy over reflexes. Each character, friendly or hostile, is represented by an icon on a timeline; when the icon gets about 80 percent across, time stops and you're asked to choose an action. Some actions happen almost immediately, but if you want to cast a powerful spell, time slows to a crawl. Move too slowly and an opponent can sneak in and knock you off your game.
The turn-based battles will feel familiar to fans of role-playing games, but other elements are more RPG-lite. After almost every battle, Aurora or one of her friends levels up, slightly raising both offensive and defensive abilities. Each character gets points to spend on a skill tree, where you can upgrade stats or gain more powerful spells. I found the constant upgrades distracting, given that the differences between levels are too small to make much of a difference.
RPG fans who enjoy trying new weapons and armor won't get that satisfaction here; each character is pretty much stuck with the