Review – Candle: The Power of the Flame

Candle: The Power of the Flame insists you make assumptions about it, then instantaneously makes you regret you ever said an unkind word about it. Just because a game looks cute doesn’t mean it plays cute, and in this case, Candle: The Power of the Flame plays pretty dirty with its demanding and problematic puzzles. Yes, there will be many times where you hit a speedbump, but the game is designed for you to take your time and experiment with the environment until you find the solution, making it difficult but fair. The feeling of overcoming puzzles this challenging is always rewarding, and with Candle, it’s a decently fun challenge from start to finish.

A powerful light beams its energy onto a destroyed planet, thus granting all inhabitants with improved intelligence. Ultimately, progress is its own downfall as some of the occupants begin to grow violent and manipulative, turning on the weak, igniting a war between good and evil. You play as Teku, a young escapee on a dangerous journey to rescue his tribe’s shaman from the evil tribe of the Wakcha. The game’s layout is not level based, but instead a continuous screen-by-screen path that requires players to solve thought-provoking puzzles in order to reach the next checkpoint. Throughout your journey you’ll utilize items you’ve uncovered combined with your candle wick finger to light your path, fend off enemies, and discover new areas.

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Save points. Use them. You’ll thank us later.

Candle is some pretty nice eye candy. At first glance, this game looks aimed at a children. The characters are cute minuscule tribal citizens with annoying vocals, and everything is sketch-drawn. However, when you start the game you immediately realize that this might be more appropriate for a slightly more mature audience. Aside from the difficulty, the ways your character die can be quite shocking to a small child. Extremely reminiscent of Heart of Darkness, your character can get eaten by wildlife and plants, drown, be attacked by tribal members, and fall to their death with a pretty satisfying crunch, all while being complimented with a hauntingly dramatic tune.

While on the topic of sound effects, the game sounds crisp and realistic as the Caribbean soundtrack fits the atmosphere just right. Unfortunately, the characters make tribal sounds that’ll drive you insane and the narrator is completely devoid of personality. I found myself skipping narration from time to time because his slow speech and pauses between sentences dragged on.

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Nothing gets under my skin more than constant annoying sounds. This screen alone will haunt your nerve endings

A couple other things about Candle: The Power of the Flame that reminds me of Heart of Darkness are the controls and fluidity of character. Some might argue that the controls for Heart of Darkness were a bit stiff, and I completely agree. Candle can feel a little unresponsive, which is never a good way to establish your game’s difficulty curve. Input seems to have a slight delay to it and the lack of hints and tutorials lends to a steeper learning curve. But once you get over that little hiccup and begin your quest, that’s when the real fun begins.

Candle: The Power of the Flame‘s fun factor stems from the demand it has on your puzzle solving capabilities. Every screen has something to be solved and there is a certain order in which the game needs to be solved in order to advance. Backtracking is a must because you’ll need to find an item in a previous screen to advance the screen you are currently on, but in order to get that item, something else needs to be done somewhere else, and so on. Usually I’m not the biggest fan of backtracking, but shortcuts make traveling back and forth easier.

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Puzzles so challenging even this guy is stumped.

Candle: The Power of the Flame is a pleasant surprise. It’s adorable animations may mislead the younger audience toward a frustrating experience with its high difficulty, but more experienced people who like critical thinking will have a great time. Despite some clunky controls and annoying voice acting, Candle’s challenge is more than worth it. Francis of Assisi once said “All the darkness in the world cannot extinguish the light of a single candle.” Simply put, don’t let the game’s difficulty overwhelm you; keep your candle lit, and eventually you’ll find your way out.

Graphics: 8.0

Beautifully sketch drawn characters and atmospheres.

Gameplay: 7.0

Slow movement, clunky controls that require getting used to.

Sound: 6.0

Crisp sound effects and pleasant soundtrack are overwhelmed with annoying NPC “voices” and dull narrative.

Fun Factor: 9.0

You’ll have a blast cracking these thought-provoking puzzles and garner a huge sense of accomplishment.

Final Verdict: 8.0

Candle: The Power of the Flame is available now on Nintendo Switch

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