What is a hero if not a light in the dark? They are called upon when danger looms ahead to vanquish the threat, and banish the darkness. Pixel Maverick Games, a one man studio composed of Rod Moye, seems to have taken this analogy to heart in creating Candlelight, a platformer that has you take control of a candle that needs to relight the other candles and get rid of the smoke monster that snuffed them all out.
The fifteen levels each follow a similar path, where you need to light three candles in order to open a door and reach the end. Each candles is located in a different temple or cave within the stage, and each of these locations are linked to either wind, water or fire. This elemental link provides the kind of challenge to expect within the area, so that in wind areas the candle’s flame can be blown out. That’s not to say these hazards are restricted to the candle caves, as they are also present in the wider level.
Candlelight has been designed to be a fairly simple game to tackle, so even with the threat of wind, water, and fire, there isn’t too much to be worried about. The candle has a health meter of sorts in the form of wax. The candle gradually shrinks as the wax melts, before eventually dying. Levels are generously full of wax drops to replenish health, which drives home the fact that Candlelight isn’t supposed to be hard to beat.
There are, however, a number challenging areas dotted throughout the fifteen levels. While some of the caves are simple affairs, others are more intricate and requiring you to look out for traps and perfect jumps on moving platforms. Other areas will require use of the candle’s light, which can be enhanced for short periods of time. Burning brighter can unveil paths to follow that would otherwise be invisible. Candlelight doesn’t outright teach you these things, instead leaving hints on signs so you can work out what to do.
That can be both a good and bad thing. It is good in a way that Candlelight doesn’t hold your hand through the more difficult areas, but at the same time the lack of an introduction to some of the mechanics you can feel a bit lost. There is even a new and rather important gameplay element introduced in the final stages of the last level, a point where a player should be accustomed to all the nuancs of the gameplay. Even though it is easy to work out what is happening, it felt a bit frustrating that such a new challenge was added so close to the end.
Candlelight’s platforming is very well done though, with jumping that always feels in your control and stages that are well put together. There is a bit of back and forth within the levels to activate the end gate, but since the levels aren’t too big it only takes a little time to find what you need to do. Playtime is approximately between two to three hours, though fast times are encouraged to get three star ratings for each level.
While Candlelight isn’t a huge graphical showcase, its design does look good, even if earlier stages suffer from looking a bit too similar with their dark colour palette. The music matches its environments well, but I do feel that a better approach would have been to have one track per level, even if they alternated. It is jarring when music suddenly stops while leaving one part of a stage, only to have a new track start a few seconds later. There is no flow between the tracks, they just stop and start.
Rod Moye has created a decent platformer with Candlelight. Though it can be challenging, it remains accessible, but there are some issues that prevent Candlelight from being a truly magnificent game. Platformers need to establish their fundamental rules quite early on and not keep adding things right until the final moments, which Candlelight is guilty of. As a solo effort, Candlelight is a fantastic achievement and kudos must be given for that.
Version tested: PS4