Thu. Jun 20th, 2024

[Review] Candleman – Nintendo Switch

By Brett Hrin Oct3,2019

Candleman

Developed By: Spotlightor Interactive
Published By: indienova
Category: 3D Platformer / Adventure
Release Date: 10.03.2019


Sometimes you just have to jump feet first directly into the weird. Candleman might be the weirdest 3D platformer I have ever had the pleasure of playing through, but beyond the odd premise and story you have some really nice platforming and level design that makes for a surprising title for the fans of the genre. If you have ever wanted to be a wee little candle and run around the craziest of environments, then man do I have a surprise for you.

You start off in the bowels of an abandoned ship, rocking back and forth to the ebbs and flows of the open sea. Candleman is sitting around, minding his own business on this ship, for whatever reason. Until one day he catches a glimpse of something outstanding out the window. He sees the bright glow of a lighthouse far, far away. As a candle, he is perplexed by the shine of this beacon of hope and intends to find where it lives so he can emulate its brightness. From there he begins his harrowing journey through the ship and out into a lush jungle, through a land haunted by candle ghosts, and finally to the lighthouse steps. Is it happily ever after? Can candles even feel happiness? We shall see.

As a 3D platformer you have the basic mechanics you would expect. You run and jump, and as a candle you can also ignite your wick for a short duration, whether it be to illuminate the path ahead, or to set fire to the candles you find along the way. Be warned however, you can only shine bright like a diamond for a short amount of time, and thus you will have to ration out your flame to be successful. Beyond that you don’t have much else to do. Traversing environments that are quite large from the candle’s perspective while navigating through the darkness is about the extent of what each level will bring you. There definitely have been more flushed out 3D platformers, but this game is going for solitude and environmental ambiance, and so you have just as much inspiration from something like Little Nightmares or Dear Esther as you do from Banjo-Kazooie.

You collect these candles by lighting them up as you go along the path, not only to give you a better look at what is around you, but also as the game’s sole collectible. I enjoyed the basicness of this addition, as collectibles are a mainstay to 3D platformers generally, but the need to see mixed with the fact you are a candle yourself makes some sense in the storytelling. I will say, however, that I am a little weirded out by the fact you light up these inanimate candles whilst being a living, feeling candle yourself. It has a totally cannibalistic feel if you get right down to it, but who am I to judge.

These candles are strewn throughout the levels, and some are usually hidden so make sure to get your good pair of eyes in for this one, as it can be a real doozy trying to find some of these with the combined darkness and master level design. The levels are truly crafted with love and passion and you can feel it as you traverse these eerie levels. Even the brighter levels have an eerie quality to them that adds to the somberness portrayed throughout.

The platforming feels pretty good in this title, but there definitely is some wonkiness to it. Your character floats a bit at the peak of jumps, which is a trait I love to see when making long or dangerous jumps but doesn’t feel realistic or as fluid as some other platformers. You also have some issues when it comes to hit detection in the puzzle sections. I found that in the puzzles where you have to avoid shooting flames you can pretty much run through the fire as it appears on the screen as long as you are at the edge, or only touching one jet stream. This makes the puzzles way easier, but that isn’t really a positive as nothing here is that difficult. Overall movement in this game isn’t at a top-notch level but felt good enough to me that it wasn’t a hindrance. I never felt cheated for a death I thought shouldn’t have happened, you just have to deal with some rust.

You have some basics of puzzle solving you have to complete with buttons that have to be pushed in a certain sequence, or ship wheels that need to be rotated in order to change the environment’s lean, but all-in-all everything here is about straightforward traversal. Don’t fall off the level, avoid water, etc. I do wish some more puzzle would have been added in to make up for the lack of exciting platforming, but as long as you can just enjoy the environment and power through to the later stages where the platforming is a bit more interesting then you should be alright.

As well crafted as the levels are, I have to say, whoever came up with the locations for this poor candle to get through must have been on acid or something. There isn’t really any rhyme or reason behind it; you just all of a sudden leave the ship and end up in a jungle. Like a scary death plant jungle where you can be barbed or smashed by plants who burst to life when you use your candle’s light function. It is so weird that it completely takes away from any of the immersion and cool storytelling the game started out with. On the flip side, this is where the platforming gets cool, with you needing to use your light to make the plant’s do things that allow for you to move through the environment, rather than just jumping across boxes and chains of the ship. There is totally a give and take from this point on in the game. I laughed at the introduction of almost every new area, and the story gets supremely weird, but you have some actual challenge to what you are doing in these odd locales, so what do you do.

Beyond the jungle you run through a hidden mirror world that has purple candle ghosts chasing you, as well as a factory-style lighthouse that ends in you finally meeting the illustrious bulb this entire nonsensical journey has been about. I won’t spoil the ending, but let me tell you, it matches up with the rest of the story. Like wow.

Candleman serves its purpose. It offers a 3D platformer that does better with its mechanics, level design, and ambiance than it could ever hope to make up for with it’s completely out of left field story arc and location choices. Like, make the candle go through a city and a candle-making shop to get to the lighthouse if you are trying to create a touching story. Not like, a ghost area and scary plant jungle. Besides all of that the areas you do go through are really well made and based on the things you do in said environments I can see where they threw reason out the window in order to put their ideas into action. The game is such a mixed bag in that it excels to surprising heights in some areas and then is completely not what you would have expected in others. Nonetheless, I had a good time with it and would recommend fans of platformers check this one out.



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*The Switch Effect was provided a review code for this game*

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