The power and skill of the narrator are essential tools when telling any kind of story. If the narrator gets the tone and delivery wrong it can spoil the whole enjoyment, not only of the story but the experience as a whole. Candle: The Power of the Flame thankfully has a voice actor who could tell you the ingredients of a can of baked beans and still ensure you’d be hooked on every word he tells you. The story here is one of make-believe, magic, and wonder, covering every theme under the rainbow. But is it a good anecdote?
The first thing that you see from the looks and tone of Candle: The Power of the Flame is that it looks like a lovely Disney type game, with beautiful creatures and funny quirky characters. It is beautiful, but underneath that lays a very dark story full of epic conflict, horror, and violence. The story plays out as an inventive puzzle adventure, following the lead star Teku, a sort of apprentice to a village shamen. Dedicated to his profession he has replaced his left hand with an eternal candle. Straight away we are introduced to a world view of the history of Teku and his people, and how conflict and peace have always been a fine balancing act. But the evil Wakcha tribe set fire to his village, kidnapping the shamen. It’s up to Teku to find him.
This game reminds me of many different types of game, but the one that it instantly harks back to is Braid. It has a similar look, puzzle element, and an unusual story. In this one you have the ability to jump, explore, and provoke a special candle attack that illuminates the world for a moment. You also need to make use of good old fashioned point and click mechanics, where you collect objects from around the levels and find good uses for them. Then there is the wordless interaction with a number of fantastical characters and trying to avoid getting caught by the enemy. If they see you, there is no chance to attack; only run and hide. Or you can creep up on them and push them into a ravine, or utilise a fiendish plan using puzzles and items.
Both the design and puzzling adventure side of things are superb, with rock hard solutions and old-fashioned item usage like those found in the great point and click games – Monkey Island and Grim Fandango. What isn’t so good are the platforming and precision elements to the gameplay. For much of my time with Candle these issues didn’t affect me so much, but in one section – involving some platforms and a bunch of water geysers – well it nearly made me have a stroke. It is in these moments where the mechanics don’t seem to be as responsive as they should. Thankfully they don’t ruin the experience because that’s only a small section in a very enjoyable game, and otherwise the puzzles are top notch and will really test your mental and dexterity skill to the max, all while delivering a heady mixture of different things to do. In fact, finding the solutions to the way of tackling a level is so rewarding that you will want to shout from the rooftops about it.
Candle: The Power of the Flame has a delightful visual tone that is straight out of an Oscar-winning short animation film. It’s the attention to detail in the characters, landscapes and little features that make this game really stand out in the visuals department. The colour scheme is wonderful and the splendid cutscenes employed here are superb on the eye. It’s obviously been created by a highly inventive team and you can clearly see the artistry on show.
The soundscore is very beautiful too and well used throughout. I really loved the last track in the credits and it has stuck with me after the game’s conclusion. The characters speak in another language and we are left to see what they are saying in pictures, which is a lovely touch and well used. The one voice actor used – as I said at the beginning of this piece – is a very safe pair of hands. He narrates the world effectively and with great skill throughout. If I could pick one person to narrate my life, it would be him.
Overall there is much to love in this amazing little game. The visual tone, soundtrack, and narration of Candle: The Power of Flame, as well as the inclusion of great puzzle elements see it coming across as something with brilliant invention. The downsides are that some of the game mechanics feel a bit off, and a tad annoying, but it isn’t enough to dampen the spirits or ruin the enjoyment of this stunning candle adventure.