Guide a tiny candle through beautiful environments and clever puzzles in a platformer fairy tale about light and darkness.
Candleman: The Complete Journey
Platforms: PC (reviewed), Xbox One (base game)
MonsterVine was provided with a PC code for review.
Candleman: The Complete Journey is a puzzle platformer that puts you in the role of a sentient candle that wakes up in the darkness and wonders why he is the only candle that can burn. He sets out on a journey to find answers and bring light to the dark world around him.
The controls are simple. You can move, jump, and burn. However, the little candle can only burn for 10 seconds per level. If you use up your 10 seconds of fire, you’ll need to start over from the start of the level or mid-level checkpoint. As a nice touch, the candle gets smaller as you use up your allotted light.
From the premise, I expected Candleman to be a race against time to get as much done as possible with the little light you have, but that isn’t how it works at all. Instead, Candleman encourages you to use tiny bursts of light to check your surroundings and light unlit candles placed throughout each level. In addition to lighting your path, these candles also serve as collectibles, rewarding you for thorough exploration. More than anything, the 10 second limit teaches you how the game is meant to be played and quickly stops feeling like a restriction.
In the early levels you’ll use your light for little more than checking for obstacles and lighting candles. As you proceed, however, it becomes much more complex. From deadly plants that flare outward to platforms that only exist in the light, everything in Candleman’s world reacts to the candle in different ways. This lets it set up some clever puzzles, although the puzzle-solving and platforming never become overly difficult. The game is also quite forgiving, especially when it comes to the collectibles. Your lit candles remain lit after you die, and if you choose to restart a level immediately after finishing it, they’ll still be lit even then.
But what Candleman lacks in difficulty, it makes up for in beauty. The dark levels at the start are a far cry from the dazzling environments that await you later on, and each new development made me eager to see what would come next. The story is simple and presented like a fairy-tale, but it works. I wanted to see the little candle through to the end of his journey – and although the final three chapters were originally DLC, they fit perfectly with the rest and create a cohesive, beautiful conclusion.
The Final Word
Candleman: The Complete Journey is a beautiful, charming puzzle platformer. It isn’t a long game or a challenging one, but it excels at making clever use of light and lightness to create a beautiful, memorable world.
– MonsterVine Review Score: 4.5 out of 5 – Great