Candleman: The Complete Journey – Review
Candleman: The Complete Journey is a 3D platformer developed by Spotlighter Interactive, and published by Zodiac Interactive, in Candleman, you control a little candle that can only burn for 10 seconds before melting, but he dreams of becoming as bright as the lighthouse he can see in the distance.
The principle mechanics in Candleman, are jumping and lighting your wick, those and walking are the only actions you can do, however the chapters bring in new challenges and uses for your little candle’s skills as you progress, especially with the lighting of your wick, this goes from simply lighting your surroundings, to activating the luminescent properties of flowers, another effect of the candle lighting ability is that when you burn, you drip little bits of wax, which at first just seems like a neat little visual, but as you play through the levels you’ll find that your trails are noticeable even in the dark, so they can act as sort of guidelines of where you have been, and where it is safe to stand.
The game begins with your little candle in what appears to be a ships cargo hold, you wander around in the darkness until you find the glowing blue exit, or lose all your candles and try again, in order to properly see where you are going though you will need to ignite, after ten seconds though you burn out and lose a candle (you have ten per level), finishing each level in less than ten seconds may sound difficult, and that is….because that’s not the intention, you have control over your flame, you can ignite and extinguish it at will, which means you can choose to use it sparingly, doing small burst when you need to see your surroundings and stretching it out to last the level, you’ll also notice other unlit candles dotted around the level, you can ignite them with your flame which gives you a slight illumination to the area, and if you find and light all of them then you get an extra line of poem which acts as the story as well, levels can be rerun at any time as well, so if you can’t find all the candles the first time, you can just retry it, interestingly the levels seem to have a somewhat persistent memory, as not only are the candles you found still lit, but the trails of melted wax you left will still be there, being a somewhat useful guideline of where you can stand for subsequent runs.
During the first few chapters of the game, your little candle will make it through a ship, complete with rocking back and forth, which adds a new level of platforming, as you will need to time your jumps, and may need to burn your candle to make sure things are lined up for you, I found the ship levels to be very reminiscent of Little Nightmares, the combination of a small character, foreboding darkness, and wooden surroundings although Candleman still feels distinct, and is less tense than Little Nightmares.
After the ship you enter a sort of magical land filled with books, vases and a natural light source that comes and goes (which was also seen near the end of the previous chapter and is a welcome relief from burning your wick to see), the magical world reminded me of The Sorcerers Apprentice, possibly just the magical aesthetic and stacks of books, in this world the light source also activates the pages of some books to rise and fall, and the vases and bottles to shoot magic breezes that Candleman can float on, overall this chapter felt a lot easier than the first, as the natural light, which is on a short timer, makes surveying the area fairly easy, which made the candles quite easy to spot, however the third chapter is back in the ship, this time with fire hazards, as none of the levels are particularly challenging, it felt more like a requirement of the story rather than a balance issue.
The sound design in Candleman I found to be particularly strong, with moments of silence punctuated with the heavy, echoing sounds of Candleman walking around, it really aided the tension of the dark, the music when it is used though is very lovely, it sits in the background seeking to aid the ambience rather than driving the story, as the game progresses and the levels become more dense with things for Candleman to use and avoid, the music becomes more dense as well, overall, the sound design very interestingly aided both the relaxing atmosphere and the tension, which is quite a feat in itself.
The character of Candleman, is quite literally a candle, sitting in a candle holder, with two legs at the bottom so he can run and jump, when I heard of the game, my initial assumption was either an anthropomorphic cute little candle with big eyes and a huge mouth, something that could act as a mascot for the developers, or maybe Lumiere from Beauty and the Beast, but Candleman’s lack of features make the game seem darker and more serious, whilst still giving you a protagonist you can emotionally invest in, with his rather lovely story, he sees a lighthouse through a window, and in his naivety and childlike innocence, he believes it to be a huge candle that can burn brightly without melting.
Overall, I found Candleman: The Complete Journey, to be an at time tense and foreboding journey, but ultimately a magical experience that has something to offer for a younger player and for older ones, a rare little gem about light and darkness that needs to be pulled from the shadows to receive the exposure it deserves.
In coffee terms, Candleman is like a wonderful barista with a rich full blend, working in an out of the way area, his store might not be the easiest to spot but once you find it you’ll end up with an enjoyable blend that has more flavour under the surface than you might expect.
Bonus Section – Ar0n’s Opinion
“Candleman is a great game, the concept (kinda proud he used this word) of the game is really good, I think it’s good for everyone to play, it’s not too hard and not too not hard (direct quote, no edits), I like the puzzles and finding all the candles, I like puzzles but most are too hard, Candleman puzzles made my mind explode (he means in a good way), the graphics are really good and I think this is one of my favourite games I’ve played so far.”