Candle: The Power of the Flame is a point and click adventure with a unique hand-drawn aesthetic. You play as Teku, a Light Guide whose village is destroyed and whose shaman is still alive and must be found. The game is narration heavy, weaving its narrative between puzzles solving sections. The narrator is a prominent voice in the tale, filling in the blanks that the dialogue-less characters cannot. He reads well, but I think the game could have benefitted from a narrator like that in Media Molecule’s Little Big Planet series—one that inspired awe and wonder.
Teku carries a titular candle, which can be used to bear flame. Fire is used for a number of things in this world. Simply holding it is enough to ward off some foes. Lighting different receptacles activates mechanisms. Using your candle in areas that are suspicious can also uncover hidden objects. Some puzzles will require you to figure out how to transport flame from one point to another without allowing it to be extinguished.
The camera work is excellent. Stepping into a building or passageway dims your surroundings and the camera zooms in to simulate close quarters. You can still see the dimmed bits of world that are no longer accessible from where you stand and you have to appreciate that attention to detail. Presentation as a whole is very nice, whether it’s the hand-drawn art or the carefully constructed animations, Candle is a joy to behold.
Unfortunately, all is not fabulous in this whimsical world.
When you actually know what to do, puzzles are intuitive and clever. You’ll need to keep an observant eye on your surroundings because there will often be bits and bobs that are easily overlooked and play a hand in getting you past obstacles. A lot of the puzzles are on the obscure side thanks to a lack of dialogue or a proper hint system and Candle proves to be one of those games that you’ll find yourself stuck, finally overcome it and feel like an idiot… Only to find yourself stuck again moments later. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing if you’re more puzzle-minded, but for those like me who don’t have the greatest amount of patience, it can be very frustrating to have to wander back and forth and try to interact with anything and everything to figure out how to proceed.
The single reason I cannot recommend Candle to anyone looking for a point and click is because of its unforgiving difficulty level. Had there been an easy mode, sure. That would make it so that those who aren’t as good at puzzle games could still find the title to be accessible. It’s my belief that it shouldn’t take you half an hour to figure out how to even find the next puzzle, much less to attempt it and you shouldn ‘t need to look up a guide in order to enjoy a game, but rather be able to solve it all on your own with a bit of ingenuity. The way things are set up, Candle expects you to find your way and offers little to mp assistance, which won’t be for everyone. As is, I could only recommend this to genre veterans who like their puzzles the way they like their Dark Souls. That’s likely a little dramatic, but you get my point.
- Gorgeous presentation.
- The writing is good.
- Little touches build up a whimsical atmosphere that will draw you into the world.
- Puzzles are clever and solving them is satisfying.
- You are required to hear the narrator read out every little thing. For example, if there’s two sentences of description, you can’t read at your own pace; you have to let him read it to you.
- Obscure to a fault. Progression feels stilted with so many pit-stops to figure out what to do next and that was frustrating.
- No hint system. This is arguably a good thing, but games that allow you to utilize one should you need it don’t run the risk of alienating certain players.
Candle is beautiful and polished in terms of presentation, but its flawed delivery makes it difficult to recommend to a majority. Those who will enjoy Candle will either be puzzle wizzes with an eagle eye for small details or otherwise won’t mind backtracking tirelessly to touch every single object in order figure out where to go next.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Sony Playstation 4 code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Gameplay - /10
Graphics - /10
Sound - /10
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