The shaman is gone, taken by a warring faction. You, the light-keeper are the only one who can save him, keeping the fire going in your ever-handy Candle.
Genre(s): Adventure | Platforming
Developer: Teku Studios
Publisher: Daedalic Entertainment
Release Date: Nov 2016
Played: Full game.
Purchase At: Steam
Source: Review Copy provided by Publisher
When Candle opens, after a lengthy cutscene explaining the origin of the world, you find yourself in a burning village, your village. A rival tribe attack you and kidnapped your shaman, and it’s up to you to save him.
There really isn’t much to say about Candle’s story, as it’s fairly straightforward. You are the light-keeper, chosen to aid the shaman communicate with the gods and you have to save him from the other tribe before they do something unspeakable to him—meaning sacrifice him for some ghastly purpose.
Candle is a puzzle platformer with most puzzles being of the inventory variety, where you need to collect items strewn around the environment and then use them in the right place, or give them to the appropriate NPC.
As the light-keeper, your little candle never burns out, though water and other circumstances can still put it out. The candle is perhaps the most important item in the game, and also the one that’ll get you into the most trouble since the enemies can tell that you’re close by the light of your candle. But using it you can light dark areas to explore, trigger puzzles, teleport using special platforms and even reveal secrets in the environment. It’s pretty versatile and the puzzles around it are pretty clever with the bird shadow puzzle being my favourite so far, for how much of a story it tells when you complete it.
One thing I don’t like about Candle’s design is that you learn by dying, at least most of the time and every time you deal with one of the enemy tribesmen. If you make a noise, if you run, if you have a candle on or in general do something you’re not supposed to, you will die. It leads to a certain degree of frustration but also has that satisfaction when you clear it, that you’ve overcome the odds and taken enemies out with your cleverness.
What I love about Candle’s puzzle design is that it doesn’t feel like a series of puzzles but one, a giant puzzle with many interconnected parts. Each piece you complete brings you closer to the goal, to the solution of the main puzzle. I like that approach, as it feels much more organic.
Puzzles are fairly intuitive, even when you have to improvise items to accomplish a task. The materials might at times be strange, but they never feel like moon logic, which is something I’m always grateful for.
While I like exploring the environment, and figuring out the puzzle elements is pretty easy, the number of screens in Candle can sometimes cause confusion. With how often you revisit locales, since there are puzzles you can only solve after acquiring a special item in another part of the world, it would’ve helped a lot to have some form of fast travel or at least a map, particularly with how large some of those screens are. I had plenty of moments where I had to return to one screen and ended up in another entirely because I couldn’t remember where to go. (Edit: It’s been pointed out to me that there is a map, and it provides all the information I needed…so this one is on me)
Candle looks straight out of a children’s book, a picture book about an ancient masked tribe. The environments are gorgeous and very colourful and each different screen helps tell the story of the world, sometimes better than the narrator ever could. I rarely mention cutscenes in reviews but I have to say that Candle’s are beautiful and remain true to the game’s style.
I loved the voice acting, not just of the English-speaking narrator, but also of the tribesmen speaking nonsense tongues. I love seeing speech bubbles over their heads with small cartoons enacting what the speaker is apparently saying. It’s pretty damn ingenious Add to that some amazing music, with some very upbeat melodies that reminded me of Monkey Island of all things.
Candle is a lovely puzzle platformer, with a cool design and some really fun gameplay. The gibberish-speak of the tribes—and which always reminded me of Spanish for some reason—will stick in your head and the music will push you through the puzzles!
4.5/5 – Amazing!