Game Review: Candleman (Xbox One)

Candleman puts you on a seemingly hopeless journey. You’re a sentient candle who’s captivated by a beaming lighthouse in the distance. The little candle only has the ability to light up a small area but he has much larger aspirations. It’s up to you to progress through a perilous voyage filled with enchanted environments. You’ll have to make use of light & shadow as you endeavour to fulfil his dream of illuminating the world, just like the lighthouse.

Candleman appears to be a generic platformer on the surface. Delving deeper you’ll soon discover that there is something wonderfully unique within. As a candle you have the ability to ignite and extinguish your wick at will. This will help you navigate sections that are almost completely shrouded in darkness. Unfortunately, you can only use this ability for 10 seconds before you completely burn out. This is the main challenge of some of the earlier parts of the game. You have to strategize the right moment to illuminate the environment. However, you might just have to take a leap of faith. The darkness serves to create a genuine feel of fear and tension at times.

With 9 chapters containing 30+ levels, you’d be right to imagine that the 10 second light gimmick might get a little samey. Thankfully, things are given a well needed shake up. Instead, you’ll be solving a number of light based puzzles throughout some truly beautiful, luminescent scenarios. Later, it mixes things up once again with some awesome levels based around mirrors & shadow play game mechanics.

This all might sound rather complicated but in actual fact, it is the complete opposite. You’ll get to grips with everything after just a couple of levels. That is certainly a criticism that can be aimed at Candleman, it is far too easy. However, while that may be a negative for some I’m glad that it is. This is the type of game that could have become annoyingly frustrating at a rapid pace. This frustration might have led some to give up the journey all together. This would be a huge shame; I feel the developers intended the journey to be much more important than challenge. You’ll die plenty of times but with 10 lives per level and a checkpoint system, it’s seriously forgiving.

Still, the overall gameplay is fun and satisfying.

Other than being really pretty and using light & darkness in a number of uniquely creative ways, it is the tale that Candleman tells that’s the real standout.

It takes something as simple as a candle and manages to tell a story that genuinely touched me. The little candle perseveres through adversity with such heart and determination. Basically, by the end you’ll feel genuine sadness for a candle. If that isn’t impressive, I don’t know what is.

Accompanying Candleman is excellent narration. Also, the subtle, uplifting soundtrack helps create this melancholic atmosphere that’s very engrossing.

It’s a little bit on the short side. Honestly, it couldn’t be any longer but for its current price tag you might feel short changed. Achievement hunters rejoice, this is as easy as they come.

Candleman has a surprisingly strong message that resonated with me. It’s not for everyone; some people simply won’t get it at all. I loved it; it’s my kind of Indie game. Time will tell if it is as memorable as I expect it to be. It barely has any replay value once the credits roll. Finally, while it has been poorly advertised I do hope it sells well so we continue to get more of these gems in the future.

  • The Final Score - 8/10
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