Heroism can be portrayed in all shapes and sizes. From the strong to the weak, and the young to the old, it’s the courage and morality that determines a true hero. Even if you’re a lone candle. Candlelight is a 2D side-scrolling tale of one candle’s journey to light the world again from its shadowy existence. This is an adventure that has the potential to capture joy within its original concept and cohesive platforming. While not all parts of this candle may shine bright, it surely won’t leave you in the dark.
Developed by Rod Moye and Pixel Maverick Games, Candlelight tells the story of a world thrown into darkness after a strange force extinguishes every candle’s light. Unbeknownst to this force, one candle has survived. It’s now up to you to brave a perilous journey and reclaim light to the land. The plot for Candlelight contains a unique charm and storyline that felt so new and untouched. In today’s over saturated market, it was refreshing to get a hold of something that didn’t feel like it was another title sliding off the indie assembly line. The disheartening part is not all aspects of this game can uphold its unique flame.
For a 2D side-scroller, Candlelight packs some distinctive mechanics amongst some not so distinctive gameplay. It’s candle themed wax mechanic is awesome. Basically think about a time meter, but instead of seconds counting down, its your wax burning away. To gain more wax you pick up consumables sprinkled throughout the level. Time running out never felt like a problem or gave a sense of urgency. It never feels that way because Candlelight never truly challenges the player. Each level has the same overlaying objective, light three candles, each one representing wind, water, and fire, and then open a final gate containing the Level Candle. Over and over again. While there were slight variations to reaching this goal, half way through the game began to feel dull, and like the objectives were stuck in wax themselves.
Even though the objectives fall flat, there are still some more cool features added in. Your nameless hero can launch fireballs, not only to clear paths, but to show hidden areas as well. In addition cool realistic environmental effects were added that can change your gameplay. Just like in real life, water and wind will extinguish your candle’s flame, causing you to alter your path and ready yourself for the obstacles before you. I loved these implementations. They relay to the player that the developer put forth time and effort in creating depth to their story.
My assumptions are that Pixel Maverick Games put so much time into crafting the controls and mechanics, that perhaps they forgot to brush over the visuals. I hope. Not that Candlelight looks bad, it just doesn’t looks so pretty either. The flame and lighting on the candle looks pretty decent and passable, but everything else just looks so dated. Like early PS3 dated. The textures aren’t crisp, the color palette is dreary, and the objects in the environment just look muddy. Listen, if it’s your concept to have simple retro visuals, I get that, but in 2016 on modern consoles we shouldn’t have to be looking at jaggies in every screen.
Probably one of Candlelights strongest assets is its controls. This is how every game in this genre should play. Hands down. Super tight and intuitive controls in every instance of the game. Every jump, double jump, dash, fireball, all felt silky smooth and as if the controller was an extension of myself. I can honestly say in my play-through nothing ever felt out of whack or wonky. A perfectly crafted controller layout compliments these buttery controls as well. No awkward button jamming or finger stretches to be had, this is where Candlelight burns bright.
From an audio standpoint, Candlelight has smaller ground to stand on than most titles. With the lack of any voice over work or narrative, the audio is left solely to the score and effects. I can say that it definitely delivers solid in those fields. Hearing the atmospheric wind instruments laid on top of light thunder cracking over a storm in the background, gives off an almost therapeutic vibe. The game finds its niche in its soothing, yet haunting score.
In a market where every indie is trying to leave their mark, they can’t hold a candle, to this candle. Candlelight sets itself apart with its unique concept and gameplay mechanics. Packed with premium controls and fluidity, jumping into Candlelight is a welcomed experience. This isn’t the most riveting thing you’ll play all year, though it still performs admirably. It may not be breaking any new barriers, but it’s refreshing to see there’s still creativity amongst the gaming scene today.
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