Shine a light on this Indie game.
Spotlightor Interactive put the player in the role of a small sentient candle that sets off on an epic journey in Candleman, which is available on Xbox One. You are a candle – why not?
There have been quite a few puzzle platformers in recent years that have told deep, epic or meaningful stories, but endearing tales such as the one found in Candleman are few and far between. A little stub of a candle comes to life on a ship and spies a lighthouse through one of the ship’s portholes. The candle instantly becomes enamoured with this relative and sets off on a seemingly epic journey to join up with the massive light source. On paper, it may not seem like much of a story at all. But the developers have taken great care to create an atmosphere of wonder and peril in this little candle’s life, forcing all but the most hard-hearted gamer to care about the candle and want them to achieve their goal of meeting the lighthouse. The tale is told in such a fairy-tale manner, and the presentation value is so high that falling in love with the plight of a candle doesn’t seem silly at all.
The simple, yet lovable, story is a highlight of Candleman, but that is not all that the game has to offer. Originally starting life as an entry at a Game Jam, the full Candleman game carries over a core concept that strikes me as absolute genius.
Straight forward platforming is the order of the day to begin with in Candleman, but being a partially used candle makes following a path through the bowels of a ship just a little bit more difficult. The levels begin shrouded in darkness and falling from a platform is a very real threat. However, you are a candle and can light yourself instantly to reveal the way forward. The hook is that you only have ten seconds of burn time in each level – burn too long and you lose a life. It’s a brilliant idea and makes the otherwise easy platforming much more tense as you try to remember in the darkness where to move, attempting to save what little wax you still have.
To be honest, I would have been happy to carry this idea through the entire game by itself. But as the levels progress and the player moves into different environments, new ideas are thrown in to further test the player. Simple puzzles that involve the little candle’s flame move on to more troublesome platforming involving invisible or disappearing platforms, or shadow puzzles and chasing ghosts. Candleman certainly becomes less unique as the game progresses, but fortunately the developers have done a great job on integrating these new ideas along the way so they remain fun throughout, and don’t get too frustrating until close to the very end.
It helps that they whole game is beautiful to look at. The different chapters take the player through a lovely variety of environments, from a library stacked with books to a bio-luminescent garden, and they all look stunning. Even the little candle himself looks incredibly cute, without going all Disney. Candleman is a good looking game.
The game is quite short, but is extended by a limited number of collectibles to be found in each level. Even taking the time to explore each level though, it won’t be too long before the player reaches the game’s conclusion, and it is not the satisfying ending that I would have hoped for. Still, the journey is great.
Candleman is a puzzle platformer with an endearing hero and a unique core concept. While the gameplay may move away from the initial idea as it progresses, it remains fun throughout. Fans of puzzle platformers, or even candles, would do well to pick up this memorable little Indie game.