From the beginning, Teku Studio’s Candle encourages you to take a seat and listen to an old tale about gods, destruction and rebirth. Teku, your main protagonist wakes to discover his village has been set ablaze by the devious Wakchu tribe. Upon making his escape, Teku ventures out to find the rest of his tribe and help others along the way. It’s a lovely little premise and the narration makes it feel like you’re hearing an old tale from a storybook. However, it is the aesthetic of Candle that is the real shining light.
Candle is an extremely picturesque puzzle platformer with heaps of charm and wit. All environments and characters are hand painted in watercolour, complete with all the imperfections you would expect of the medium. Beautiful blended backgrounds and environments seamlessly join to create a network of puzzles, platforming and even stealth sections. Even cutscenes are layered and hand painted, and these sections truly are gorgeous.
Awe-inspiring environments and characters aside, the gameplay is as you would expect from a puzzle platformer. Each situation offers you little guidance and you will only figure each part out by interacting with certain landmarks and objects and implementing a little trial and error to see what works. Sometimes this can be a little frustrating as if you miss certain things you may have to backtrack without any knowledge of what you’re actually looking for. When you finally figure something out, however, it can be an extremely rewarding feeling as you shout, “OF COURSE!” or maybe even “How was I supposed to know that?”. You will hit a lot of walls as expected with this sort of puzzler, but at least you can take in the incredible scenery while you’re there.
Teku can bring light with him everywhere he goes. He has a candle wick hand that will never burn out. Well, that’s until it is snuffed out by a waterfall. Okay, Teku has a hand that will burn until water gets to it or you actually snuff it yourself (which is useful to avoid detection). The flame is required to solve certain puzzles and reveal hidden secrets. Once the flame goes out, Teku will have to find another source of ignition. There are points scattered around that can be ignited as you go so that a new point of ignition is never too far away. This will have you avoiding water if you can and thinking forward as there may be areas where snuffing your flame may be your best option.
Controlling Teku can be a little arduous at times. Movement is akin to the original Oddworld games, where a wrongly timed jump can spell disaster. Precise platforming can sometimes be tricky if you haven’t got a grasp on how Teku moves and escaping from an enemy pursuit can prove fruitless without good coordination. This makes the traps that pop up from time to time that little bit more difficult to manoeuvre, but again it’s a game of trial and error and after a little while movement may prove a breeze and getting caught out in a trap will be a thing of the past.
The true substance of the game comes from solving the puzzles themselves. These can range from interacting with the environment to access new areas to solving a sliding tile game to unlock a puzzle box all the way to figuring out a tactic to get past an enemy. Depending on how sharp you are, the game can unfold fairly quickly. Miss a few items or areas and you could be looking at long periods of walking back and forth between areas and banging your head on the wall until you discover something new. It isn’t for everybody, but those with the wit and the patience will reap the benefits of an incredibly rewarding experience set in a beautifully crafted world.
Candle casts a shadow over many puzzle platformers in terms of beauty and substance. Although some of the puzzles may be difficult to solve and a tough control scheme may frustrate many players, its shortcomings are mostly snuffed out by its imaginative world and characters all wrapped up in a lush artistic bow. Many indie games of this genre will struggle to hold a candle… to Candle.
*Code kindly provided by the publisher for review*
Candle: Power of The Flame£19.99
- One of the most beautifully crafted games in recent memory
- Ingenious puzzles framed in a lovely world filled with all sorts of weird and wonderful creatures and environments
- Can be difficult to manoeuvre your character and platforming requires patience
- Can become a very slow haul or stop completely if you miss anything or were not initially observant