Comic books have made their leap into the digital world for quite some time. Last year we wrote about the UK-based comic anthology, The Phoenix, which was made available as a Newsstand app. There’s also the Middle School Confidential, a wonderful series about navigating the rough waters that is teenage years.
All these titles are wonderful, but I have one more to recommend: Niko and the Sword of Light, an adventurous tale about a young warrior. It’s special in that it is fully animated — a feat I’ve never seen in other digital comic books. Conceived by the character designers for Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland, it also has rich graphics and wonderful sound designs.
The Sword of Light
In an ancient time where darkness rules the land, a young warrior named Niko vows to avenge his fallen people and return his land to freedom. Carrying the powerful Sword of Light, he journeys to the cursed volcano where the darkness makes its home. His path is filled with monstrous beasts and dangerous terrains, but he bravely marches on.
Designed for tablets, Niko and the Sword of Light offers an immersive reading experience. Each panel is an animated scene complete with professional voice narration and sound effects. You can set the app to autoplay so the panels appear consecutively, or manually tap on the screen to proceed with the story. You can also tap on a panel to replay it.
The story is divided into six chapters, which translates into roughly an hour of reading depending on your child’s reading speed. One thing to note about the dialogs is that not all of the lines are included in the subtitles; they are spoken instead. The app is currently only available in English.
Parents Need to Know
You might have noticed from the summary and the screenshots that the story contains some dark elements. There are monsters and mild cartoon violence that may not sit well with a younger audience. I would say this book will be best enjoyed by kids ages 9 and up.
At the time of the review, the app is on sale for $1.99 (or equivalent in other countries). The price includes all six chapters in the book. There are no ads and in-app purchases, but be aware of the (protected) social media links visible on the main screen.
Editor’s note: The app used to be a free download with an in-app purchase to unlock the last three chapters. But the creators have since changed their approach.
Things I Like
Niko and the Sword of Light is unlike any digital comic book I’ve seen before. It plays more like an animated feature than a book with some moving parts. You can tell that a lot of work went into the app, from the stunning graphics to the atmospheric sound effects. I really like the cover page for each chapter, which contains a black-and-white parallax scene.
The story itself is a page-turner with lots of action and drama. There’s also a great message about how true power is within one’s self, which kids and adults alike can reflect on. My only regret about the story is the lack of female characters, but on the other hand it does open many doors for expansion — an origin of Niko story, perhaps? Either way, I am keen to see more of Niko’s adventures in the future.
Niko and the Sword of Light is a beautiful, fully-animated comic book about a boy’s epic quest to defeat the dark. Action-packed and set to a cinematic soundtrack, it’s a delight to read (watch?) from start to end. Highly recommended for kids ages 9 and up.
App was provided for our honest review.
Niko and the Sword of Light is available for iPad
Get it on the App Store: iPad