Candle: The Power of the Flame is a puzzle platformer by indie developer Teku Studios. You follow a tribesman named Teku whose village has been destroyed by an evil tribe, and your journey is to save your village’s shaman. It is a beautifully made game with quite a few frustrating aspects to it.
Overall, it is a very basic story, but the narrator does give some deeper lore once you begin the game. The gods that created life have destroyed the world multiple times due to the greed and power becoming too prevalent among the living. Plot-wise, I personally never got invested into the story. It simply just never caught me, and at times was more annoying than engaging. This is especially true whenever any NPCs speak to you.
To communicate, NPCs speak in gibberish with little 2D images that are supposed to illustrate what they are saying. Afterward, the narrator explains what the character said. Every conversation is extremely tedious. Every time someone talks to Teku it is so drawn out where I just wanted to skip it every time, but of course, I would miss something if I did that, so I had to sit through it all.
Where the story and conversations are uninteresting, the design of the game is great. As I said at the beginning, Candle is a beautiful game. The watercolors fit together so well, and while I think Teku himself looks like a cooked Turkey, everything else looks great. The animations in the game have been done smoothly as well. This is not made on a Cuphead level of beauty but is very pretty regardless.
The gameplay of Candle is frustrating. Controls are very clunky, and I feel at moments they want this game to have a slight platform aspect to it, but it fails in this area. Teku is way too slow moving and if you are ever spotted by a bad guy you are doomed to death. He can carry a flame on his hand that will help reveal secrets or scares away creatures that otherwise would kill him. However, if any of the bad tribesman notice fire, they are alerted to Teku’s position and will beat him down.
Puzzles in the game can also be very frustrating. There are times that they do not make sense, like gathering honey for a rabbit or making bees follow smoke and fire. Then there are the really interesting puzzles that make you feel good about yourself when you complete them. One of my personal favorites was mixing colors to match a drawing on a pillar that once I figured it out; I felt really smart.
However, I found the puzzles to be more frustrating than engaging. The world is filled with cheap deaths that punish you for exploring and anytime I got stuck on a puzzle I ended up having more fun finding the different ways to kill Teku. The amount of backtracking you have to do if you miss one simple item or clue is the most enraging part of this game.
Overall, I am glad to be done with Candle: Power of the Flame. It is a slow, uninteresting game that had me mostly just wishing for the end to finally come in its short game time. During a time when there are so many other engaging, interesting games, it is not a game I would personally recommend to play.
This review is based on a retail copy of the game provided by the publisher.