By Michael Fontanini / December 20th, 2018
|Title||Candle: The Power of the Flame|
|Release Date||July 26th, 2018|
|Platform||Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One|
|Age Rating||ESRB: E10+, PEGI: 7|
The world of Candle: The Power of the Flame was created by the Gods, but several times things went wrong. As the peoples of the world advanced, greed soon corrupted them and took over. Each time, the Gods grew angry and cleared the slate, starting the world anew once more. Now it’s happening again, but this time it’s up to young Teku to try to stop it before it’s too late. He must venture forth from his now destroyed village, solve puzzles to figure out what is going on, and find his village’s kidnapped Shaman.
The story of Candle: The Power of the Flame is told across three acts. In each act, you may move back and forth between all areas in that act freely, or at least among the ones you have access to so far. This is necessary to find items and clues to solve the puzzles scattered around in each act of the game. Teku’s actions are pretty simple. He can walk or run. If he encounters an interactive object, an icon will appear, sometimes with multiple options, such as picking up an item.
These icons will only appear while Teku is walking or standing by an object, but not when running. So if you always run everywhere, then you will miss important things. If Teku is at a lit torch or other fire source, he can light his candle. The candle itself allows you to see in a few dark areas, and to light unlit torches and things. Teku also has a special ability to create a bright flash with his candle by tapping the A button. This can reveal hidden things in a few cases. However, sometimes he will need to hold the A button for a few seconds to put out his candle to avoid detection by enemies.
At this point, Candle: The Power of the Flame may sound like a relaxing puzzle adventure game, but there is a catch. Don’t expect to just play it casually, because you won’t get far. It requires great attention to detail. Sometimes the items you need are very subtle and the game does nothing to draw your attention to them. This can be compounded by how detailed the beautiful hand-drawn graphics are. Some of the puzzles are incredibly obtuse as well.
This all means that you’ll often find yourself running back and forth between the areas you currently have access to, trying to find whatever it is that you’re missing. This is where Teku’s slow and clunky movement becomes an issue. It makes the backtracking feel more tedious and less enjoyable. His jumping also feels a bit clunky, but it’s not too much of a problem once you get used to it early in the game. There is a map screen, but you probably won’t use it too much, as it just shows how the areas in each act are connected together.
The graphics in this game are very charming, using a detailed hand-drawn art style that is a joy to look at. As you can see, the levels and backgrounds are deeply detailed. The music track is just as good, too. It sets the mood very well and helps bring the story and world to life. Meanwhile, the sound effects and narration are also right up there. The narrator is mostly only heard during story cutscenes, but there are a few times during gameplay where he’ll comment on what’s going on. It’s just too bad that the gameplay falls well short of the visual and audio presentation.
Candle: The Power of the Flame is a fairly short game overall, but it will take you a lot longer to get through than you’d expect given its true length. Many players may end up consulting a guide to get them unstuck, as getting hung up and not knowing what to do is not an uncommon problem here. While the levels are great to look at, some of the puzzle design is at times quite questionable and obscure. The game itself is not a particularly hard one. In fact, most of the gameplay is pretty easy. However, it can be frustrating because of how obtuse the puzzle designs can be in some cases, where it is not at all clear what they want you to do. The clunky movement also contributes to the gameplay issues. You’ll have a few times where you see an obvious solution, but it doesn’t work in favor of a much more obscure one, causing you to get stuck again and not be able to progress.
You’ll probably spend at least 15-20 hours or more, depending on how much you get stuck and how badly (and whether you use a guide). The game doesn’t have very much replay value either, and the Switch version does not have achievements like the others do. I greatly enjoyed the charming art style and music during my 15 or so hours with the game, but the gameplay just doesn’t live up to that at all. Candle: The Power of the Flame is available on the Nintendo Switch eShop for $19.99. Can you help Teku save the world before it falls to greed once more?
Review copy provided by publisher.
Candle: The Power of the FlameMerge GamesTeku Studios