Originally released on Steam in January, 2018, Candleman was received very positively. Now PS4 users can get their hands on this instant classic.
In this Candleman review, we’ll see if this little light shines, or is swallowed in the abyss.
Candleman: This Little Light of Mine
Candleman is a simple but astounding puzzle-platformer that has you take control of a lonely Little Candle, who awakens in the belly of a long deserted ship. Our Little Candle (yes, OUR) sees themselves in an old dusty mirror, and begins to wonder what purpose their tiny little flame has.
I have experienced the same ego-death once before, and it lies entirely on the opposite end of the enjoyment spectrum from Candleman. Needless to say I immediately found a spark of fondness to our Little Candle here.
It took longer to warm up to a main character than I normally would with our Little Candle, however.
Due to early-childhood medication-induced nightmares, I found certain personifications of toasters, vacuum cleaners, electric blankets, candles, teacups, clocks, and whatever the hell else animators of said personifications thought delighted and entertained, absolutely terrifying.
So I was put off, but intrigued.
Immediately all preconceptions vanished by the end of the first level.
Candleman is what gaming is all about for me. It embodies everything about a well structured 3D-puzzle platformer that I grew up with once Super Mario went 64.
You will guide our Little Candle through seemingly benign but dangerously sinister locations on their journey to discover true-worth.
Candleman: Oh it Shines
The road is tough, and our Little Candle’s trek will be long, but I discovered our Little Candle was also guiding me in our travel together; to a truth and realization, simply presented as a fairy tale and poem.
Candleman is gorgeous to look at. Painstaking detail was taken in the texturing of every piece of wood and stone. The floral world outside reacts to every flash of light, driving home just how perilous our Little Candle’s adventure is. Plants puff up, glowing in dangerous displays of neon light.
I simply cannot do it justice to describe, it has to be seen and felt. The audio alone is award-worthy.
A mesmerizing soundtrack accompanies some truly astounding foley work. Every step of the Little Candle’s metal feet are felt on the wood, metal, and every other texture, both real and not, you could imagine. For the best experience, play it in the dark with headphones; of course, you knew this already.
Every flash of light our Little Candle shines interacts with the world around them. It could be to make a dormant flower sprout open to create a platform for our tiny hero, or to illuminate a hidden path.
See something over in the corner? Chances are you can light something to blow it up (in a dazzling firework display).
There are just too many ways to list all the brilliant ways Candleman uses lighting, shadows, and physics.
Each and every level has a brand new twist for you to learn. It stays fresh right up to the ending credits, and you’ll want to make sure you did everything, because each level is presented as a line in a poem about our Little Candle’s journey.
You can finish the entire poem by lighting each and every candle in every level. If you do, you are awarded with the next line of the poem. It is a simple yet genius way to gently offer the carrot only when you do well.
Candleman: The Light in the Darkness
The stick end is never too harshly wielded, and you are given all the knowledge and tools you need to finish each level. Any fall into water, or fiery end from a haunted flamethrower will be by your own incompetence. This in itself is amazing to me because physics puzzles are known for being wonky and I never once encountered a glitch or frame rate drop.
The core gameplay mechanic of Candleman gives our Little Candle ten seconds of light to get through each stage. Each time you die you lose one second, making the next run a bit harder. I soon learned that the easiest thing you can do for yourself early on is get used to using brief flashes of light.
It became key to not burn through my precious seconds. Each level is dark, and every time you burn the candle, a little wax drops, and remains there if you die. There is a nice balance here of losing your second, but now you have wax breadcrumbs to find your way through again.
Each level has one or two checkpoints, big fat waxy candles that once lit act as a respawn point.
Any collectible candles you light are saved permanently, even if you lit one after the checkpoint. (Don’t quit the map though, as you will lose all progress.)
There were plenty of times my light-hole puckered as I walked our Little Candle perilously close to edges and across beams, bringing back those oh so painful Dark Souls memories.
Our Little Candle learns from our mistakes, and as we are presented with an ever growing range of ways to use their little flame, we grow emotionally too. Our Little Candle’s journey is one of self-growth, and I too found myself reminded of how the unexpected may change our life’s course in many ways, but the moral here is part of the discovery, so you’ll have to take the journey yourselves now with our Little Candle, and I hope you too find meaning as I have.
Nothing too deep, and it will be all your own, but Candleman reminds me what a great game can do for you emotionally, just when you need it, and just when you least expect it.
Candleman review code provided by the publisher.