by Ingvi Snædal
reviewed on PC
Light in the Darkness
I’ve grown to revere Daedalic Entertainment for their role in keeping my beloved point-and-click genre out of the realms of irrelevance. As such, I have grown to expect a certain type of experience whenever I am presented with one of their games. Recently, however, they have been aggressively branching out. Candle, at first glance, looks like a traditional adventure game but as soon as you get your hands on it, you’ll realise that it is anything but. Seamlessly blending elements of point-and-click puzzle solving and heart-thumping platformer action, Candle delivers an experience that is wholly its own.
You are Teku, the light guide of your tribe. It is your responsibility to keep the fire burning so your shaman can converse with the gods at night. Your village is attacked and your shaman kidnapped. A light guides never abandons his shaman, so you set out to rescue him. This is the beginning of an adventure that will unveil a beautiful fictional world told with just enough detail but filled with colourful characters and exciting challenges along the way.
Contrary to my initial impression, this is not a point-and-click adventure. I was surprised to find that in the tutorial scene, I was asked to use the arrow keys to move around and the cursor I so expected was absent. “Hold on,” I thought to myself, “This is not what I ordered!” Sometimes, though, you don’t really know what you want until you’re presented with it. That is what happened with Candle. A platformer/graphic adventure hybrid, Candle presents you with the inventory menu and puzzle solving of games like Monkey Island and Broken Sword while having you move around in a traditional platformer world with all the pitfalls and traps that entails.
Candle is beautifully rendered, reminding one of such hand-drawn beauties as Machinarium and Samorost. Even the sprite animations are drawn frame by frame and scanned in, which leads to a charming choppiness in the animations, further supporting the overall handcrafted style of the game. Sometimes, however, Teku can appear a bit sluggish when speed and reflexes are required, for instance while running away from enemies and during high-speed platforming sequences.
Flames of Beauty and Frustration
The puzzles are masterfully created and the scenes are so beautiful, the constant trekking back and forth is well worth it. The narrator’s smooth voice is a joy to listen to and almost makes you overlook all the language errors in the subtitles. All is not flowers and sunshine in this debut title from Teku Studios, however. I found myself stuck on multiple occasions in this game and, having spent about an hour running back and forth in what was a relatively small scene in the game, I swallowed my pride and found a walkthrough online. Turns out the platform I was missing was hidden from view. I had to perform an action that, to the best of my knowledge based on everything that came before it in the game, would have been suicide in order to progress. This type of hidden platform design is usually reserved for easter eggs, exploration trophies, or other treats but this is the first time I see it being used as a requirement for progression. I couldn’t hate it more. The next time I got stuck, I looked for subtle cues in the environment that might tell me where a hidden platform might be. Failing to find one, I began flinging myself off cliffs in every direction hoping to accidentally hit something.
Bright, But Could Be Brighter
Despite the immense annoyance at the decision to include hidden platforms as a requirement for progression, I loved Candle. Introducing point-and-click adventure game elements into platformers is sure to benefit both genres and as a point-and-click adventure geek, I have rarely enjoyed a platformer more than I did this one. It’s by no means perfect, but I can’t wait for the sequel. Please, Teku Studios, just make sure I can see where I’m going.
Beautiful hand-drawn visuals, fantastic mix of point-and-click and platformer gameplay elements, interesting and challenging puzzles and action platform sequences.
Suicidal behavior required, sluggish reaction time.