Candle: The Power of the Flame Review

By Rebecca Smith, 5 months ago
Teku Studios released their puzzle platformer Candle to a positive reception on Steam. Now, nearly two years later, they've teamed up with publisher Merge Games to bring the title to consoles for the first time as Candle: The Power of the Flame. With challenging puzzles and a unique art style, the game promises to be different to the platformers and adventure titles we've seen recently, and while it isn't perfect, it is a breath of fresh air.

20/06/2018 - Carousel

In the world of Candle, the gods used light to create the Earth. Once water and plant life had become established, they stepped back and watched as evolution took over. Initially the tribesmen live a peaceful existence, but then greed and the need for power took over and things started to go wrong. Angry with the way things are going, the gods destroyed the world and started again. So far, the gods have destroyed the world four times, and now the fifth attempt isn't going too well either. Teku and his tribe live peacefully on an island, but one day Teku returns to find his village in flames. The last thing he remembers is being knocked unconscious. Now the shamen, Yaqa, is missing and it's down to Teku to find him.

The first thing players will notice is the game's beautiful art style. Every location, character and object is hand drawn and highly detailed, making the game a joy to see. The few cutscenes that take place in between the game's prologue and three acts have a colourful watercolour appearance even if they're not quite so detailed. Complementing the art style is a storybook style narration of the plot and a host of charming characters, each of whom has fairly witty dialogue in their native language. If you didn't get the gist of the conversation from the amusing illustrations, the narrator then translates for you. The narration's tone is ideal, never being over the top nor monotonous.

Let me tell you a story while there's nowhere else to goLet me tell you a story while there's nowhere else to go

It's all perfectly suited to the gameplay. While a puzzle platformer at heart, the game is more puzzles than platformer. Rarely are quick reflexes ever needed and gameplay takes on a calm and leisurely pace. The puzzles can be fairly challenging but players can take as much time as they need to solve them. All the while, they're encouraged to look around and observe their surroundings for subtle clues and very hidden areas with objects needed to progress, and I mean very hidden areas. A challenge is always welcome, but there will be occasions where you're not sure what you're doing because you've missed something that's hidden just a bit too well.

The game's unique hook comes in the form of the titular Candle. As one of the tribe's lightbearers, Teku only has one hand, the other being replaced by a candle. This mechanic plays an integral part of the game, being used to solve puzzles, manipulate enemies, and further the plot. As expected, the flame is allergic to water, which is also prevalent throughout the levels in imaginative ways that keep players on their toes trying to think of ways to keep the flame burning. The game comes up with a surprising number of ways to use the mechanic without ever being too predictable, and there's always a sense of satisfaction when finding a successful solution. The 8-10 hour story never outstays its welcome.

You'll need that candle to help to see in the darkYou'll need that candle to help to see in the dark

There are plenty of ways to die in the game. Sometimes they feel a bit cheap because something didn't behave in the way you were expecting, but they're mostly because you made a mistake in working out the puzzles. Luckily, players will respawn very close to where they die thanks to the game's temporary invisible checkpoints, so very little backtracking is needed because of failure. However, you will find yourself backtracking through the levels often as you search for those missing clues, or go on a fetch quest for one of the few characters you meet. The latter never feel tedious as they're always mixed in with other things you need to do in the same area.

Unfortunately, Teku's movement and the platforming sections of the game are where things get let down. Teku's movement is sluggish at best and the platforming is not very smooth. There was one section in act 3 where the game temporarily changes tact to focus entirely on platforming, and it's easily the most frustrating part of the game, especially when the clunky movement causes a premature death. Once players get used to the way Teku moves, the normal puzzle solving gameplay is a lot of fun, but when the puzzles are the game's strength, the gameplay is disappointing when they're removed from the equation.

Rescuing the bodyguard is not as simple as throwing him a rope.Rescuing the bodyguard is not as simple as throwing him a rope.

The game's achievements are a mix of story progression and things that happen when puzzles are solved wrongly. Players will need to keep an eye open for all of the light sources throughout the game, but most of these are tied to the story so very few are missable. All of the achievement can be earned in a single playthrough, but as saving is only done manually through save points found throughout the levels, it is possible to miss some of the achievements if you haven't got an earlier save to which you can revert. At this point, a new save file would be required.

Check out our Best Xbox Platformer Games Available in 2018 article for a compilation of other great games in this genre.

Summary

Candle: The Power of the Flame took a while to come to consoles but it was definitely worth the wait. The game's beautiful art style and storybook narration perfectly balance the calm gameplay offered by the puzzle platformer. The challenging puzzles offer a distinct sense of satisfaction when they're solved, even if some of the clues are a little too well hidden. On the downside, character movement is clunky and the platforming is the worst part of the game, but the puzzles are so plentiful that this doesn't feel like a major detraction. Those who thrive on brainteasers will love Candle.
4 / 5
Candle: The Power of the Flame
Positives
  • Challenging puzzles
  • Relaxing gameplay
  • Beautiful art style
Negatives
  • Clunky platforming
  • Some clues are too well hidden
Ethics Statement
The reviewer spent 8 hours setting light to many things while neing mean to Wakcha tribe members. She earned all of the game's 23 achievements in the process. An Xbox One version of the game was provided by the publisher for the purpose of this review.
Please read our Review and Ethics Statement for more information.
Rebecca Smith
Written by Rebecca Smith
Rebecca is the Newshound Manager at TrueGaming Network. She has been contributing articles since 2010, especially those that involve intimidatingly long lists. When not writing news, she works in an independent game shop so that she can spend all day talking about games too. She'll occasionally go outside.