Candleman: Relaxing Puzzle Platformer With Atmospherics

Candleman the indie game

Candles, eh? Launched in February 2018, Candleman is by Spotlightor Interactive in Beijing, China. It’s available on everything—all consoles, PC, and mobiles.

It’s fair to say the game is… deLIGHTful, although lacking in some areas. Yet the several hours of gameplay time you get here makes for a relaxing, swoon worthy puzzle platformer.

Light it at Both Ends in Candleman

There’s a type of indie game genre that’s basically relaxing puzzle games, which the likes of The Last Campfire (2020) and Path of Giants (2019) slot into.

Candleman does the same, with the usual mix of brooding atmospherics and general sense of profundity. But it’s all geared towards giving you an escapist trip to relax you a fair wodge—the game succeeds there in spades.

Where it falls on its arse is with the afterthought of an existential narrative tacked on regarding the protagonist.

With video games, we’re not usually bothered about intricate narratives (one reason why we avoid AAA games a lot of the time). But Candleman does leave a lot to be desired here.

Ignoring that side, what you do get is a charming looking puzzle platformer with over a dozen chapters and many levels to explore.

As Candleman, you can light yourself up. But only for certain periods of time! Set your wick alight for too long and you’ll die, leaving you to start a level over again.

You need to time your self-immolation strategically, which isn’t easy as the levels drift in and out of darkness. This is one of the darkest games we’ve ever played, illuminated occasionally by bursts of atmospheric lights.

As you amble along, you also need to light up other candles you discover (if you want to be a completionist, that is). Each level goes a little like this.

In the first chapter, we were worried we’d just wasted £6 on Candleman. As it didn’t seem to offer much other than basic puzzle solving.

However, in the early chapter two levels it begins to see the light.

From there, the levels become more adventurous and open up to you an intriguing world with some clever level design. And we did find ourselves swooning for the game a fair bit.

Candleman looks great, with lots of brooding use of light and dark (kind of makes us think of Tanizaki’s In Praise of Shadows). And there’s a rather chillaxing soundtrack by Chinese indie game composer Zeta.

At its best, Candleman does what it sets out to do—impresses with its graphics, whilst relaxing you with its casual puzzle platforming.

It’s not overly challenging with its puzzles, which is kind of the point. You breeze in and out of levels and revel in their intriguing designs.

The controls can be frustrating. And some of the level designs block your vision at times. Plus, when you die you can be left starting the level over again and plodding slowly back to where you were before, only to die again and repeat it all over.

It can be frustrating, then, which isn’t helped by how dark the game can be at times. You’re left straining trying to see anything. Perhaps not great for extended periods of play.

These niggles aside, it’s a cute, fun little game and we enjoyed our time with it.

Want to relax?

Want to chill?

Like candles? 

Then have a romp into its world and take on its easy charm offensive.

Dispense with some gibberish!

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