Welcome Time Wasters!
My time wasting this week takes place on the Nintendo Switch. While it’s one of my favorite consoles to play, it’s not something I check out smaller games on often. That changes this week due to the developers of Candleman providing me with a review code for the game.
To start off, I’m just going to say that Candleman was way above my expectations. The trailer and overall feel I got from it led me to believe that this was going to be a simple platformer with minimal gameplay and a focus on being “artsy.” Luckily, this wasn’t the case at all.
It is true that Candleman starts off simple enough. It eases the player into the game with a few easy puzzles and introduces its light mechanics throughout them. However, it does a great job at steadily increasing the challenge while also introducing more mechanics based around the light. It’s actually one of the most fair difficulty curves I’ve seen in gaming recently.
The light mechanics in Candleman also make for some incredibly interesting gameplay. At first, the player just has to use their light sparingly to make it through levels. This is due to our titular character only being able to stay lit for a certain amount of time each level. Later in the game, players will have to manage using light to reveal invisible platforms, charging local flora with light and manipulating shadows to sneak past enemies. There’s more than just this and the game even manages to introduce a few more interesting twists near the end, but I won’t spoil those.
One of the things that was most surprising to me about Candleman was its length. I went into this expecting a two-hour game max. However, I found myself more than doubling this by the time it was all said and done. There’s also an additional objective in levels to light all the candles. This unlocks short poems for each level that describe our little candle’s journey to reach the faraway light house. Players that want to get all of these will end up dedicating a little more time to the game. There were a couple that were somewhat tricky to obtain, but most will come just from playing through the main game.
Visually, Candleman is a surprisingly good-looking game. There’s lots of small details for players to take in and the sparse lighting gives it an almost suspenseful vibe at times. It’s definitely a case of less is more. I also enjoy it’s lack of HUD. For example, there is no health bar telling the player how much longer they can keep their flame on. Instead, they will just have to watch Candleman and see him shrink down the more he burns his flame. It’s a great detail that can add a bit of stress when the player is near the end of a level, but also is starting to shrink to incredibly low levels. Plus, the wax left on the ground from burning creates a trail for players to follow if they need to backtrack.
The audio in Candleman is also great. It’s mostly atmospheric music that fits in well with the loneliness of being in the dark by oneself. However, those moments of action and terror come with their own music and audio cues that compliment the rest of the game. The developers really knocked it out the park in this department.
Overall, Candleman is a great way to waste some time. It’s a bit steep right now with a $15 price point. I could easily advise picking it up at $10 when it goes on sale. So keep an eye on it. Those that do will find a wonderful puzzle/platformer that does a great job at introducing new mechanics to challenge them without being overwhelming. The spectacular visuals and audio just push this further to create a truly neat experience.
Candleman earns 4 GiN Gems out of 5!