Candleman: A Shining Adventure (Mobile, PC, PS4, PS5, Switch, Xbox One) – MaXoE

Summertime is often synonymous with catching up on a to-do list, (re-)discovering obscure nuggets, or even reuniting with friends and/or family around the same so-called couch multiplayer experience. What better place in these scorching times to share with you our great experience with Candleman, a very original piece of software published since 2020 in physical edition on Switch.

Candleman was developed by Spotlightor, a Chinese studio based in Beijing (Beijing). Initially, the Candleman project was born to participate in the Ludum Dare game jam in 2013. Back then, the developers had 48 hours to propose a 10 second themed game. During this event, the concept, original and interesting (the embodiment of a candle with all the accompanying elements such as burning), received such positive reviews during this event that it was subsequently noticed by the ID@ Xbox program, an independent division of the American giant Xbox.

A few years later, the game was released on Xbox (2017), then on PC and mobile devices in 2018, and on Playstation 4 (2018) and Nintendo Switch (2019). In recent years, the software has even benefited from DLC increasing the number of chapters originally available in the base game. But Candleman has also received support from Red Art Games for a physical release in 2020 on the Nintendo Switch. The edition was also accompanied by a beautiful booklet with sketches and a cardboard sleeve.

Easy addictive adventure

The adventure depicted in this universe leads us to meet the candle. A candle endowed with a conscience that wonders why it lights up, but also why it is so different from others. Quickly, the latter wandered on the pontoon, while the voice called her through the iron door. Will she find answers to her questions, her fears, or even her ideals? You have to find out…

As strange as it may seem, we quickly get caught up in the game of figuring out what will happen to this candle, especially since the fairy tale/poetry aspect with the fairy tale touch and the voice acting of the narrator is easily captured.

Original concept, great ideas, puzzles, we want more!

Candleman is an innovative game between platform and puzzle. This innovation comes mainly from his original concept: to embody a candle and by extension its candlestick with everything connected to it, such as flame, wax, darkness and of course light, elements that must be considered throughout the adventure. The adventure is also divided into several chapters, which themselves consist of several levels, the number of which varies from one to the next.

Thanks to the ease of operation and exemplary maneuverability at every level, we guide this candle in its quest. The goal of each level is to get from point A (the beginning of the level) to point B (represented by the portal), clearing the way and avoiding all sorts of traps.

To do this, only three keys need to be remembered: first, the traditional movement, second, the jump, the latter must be held more or less long to change the “extension” and thus move from platform to platform at different heights. , relocation, etc.

If these two actions are very traditional and classic for the world of platform games and video games in general, then the last action, in this case “burn”, gives the Candleman a very special dimension. You know this from real life, when you light a candle in the evening, you illuminate the part of the room you are in, but once it goes out, you find yourself in a dark night. The same is true in the software, all levels accept scenery taking into account some more or less pronounced penumbra, with sometimes softening due to the glow of the sea beacon.

However, under the bright rays of this beacon, progress is not safe, but in the most complete eclipse, it is necessary to turn to the light of this small candle, lighting it with a simple push. But still, be careful, because if every second that a bright flame is present, you can see more and more clearly at a certain distance, then this very flame is gradually absorbing the wax of this candle. Once the ignition threshold of ten seconds is reached, the small spark plug no longer burns out (burns out completely), and then it is necessary to start over through the corresponding passage (channels) or even start over from the previous checkpoint (also represented by a candle, but more impressive), which you previously lit.

Thus, the advance is “by touch”, it is necessary to both think, anticipate approaches, carefully examining the surroundings and safe places, as soon as you illuminate the area, but also be very careful not to fall. a crack, a pit, an abyss, or, even worse, a body of water! Yes, if it is completely under water, the small candle will “leave”, and again you will have to start over from the last checkpoint. Of course, not only these two elements create danger, each level and chapter also has its own set of traps.

If the first Levels use very simple principles, like rolling bottles or changing the direction of gravity of wooden boards (right and left), as well as completely avoiding traps, then in such holes, water that emphasizes this global accessibility, good ideas that update the experience as much as possible, are processed according to as the adventure progresses, the best and most ingenious ones appear even later, in particular unlike Chinese shadow games.

To give a few examples that can be found in the levels, in addition to the more or less hidden candles to be found, the latter are a secondary objective, and each location uses an adaptive camera that can take different viewing angles (three-quarters, side-scrolling, …) without ever making eye contact. There are elements of nature that can help progress, such as a breath of wind, “flower petals” floating on the water, or even boat helms guiding the interior from port to starboard.

And there we didn’t even mention the elements/objects that react to the light of a candle flame. It can be both a welcome help, and somewhat more “evil” traps, but not insurmountable, quite the contrary. For example, in the light of a flame, some fruits “ripen” at great speed and fall to the ground, threatening to crush you, other phosphorescent plants, also thorny, prevent you from passing, but nature, as beautiful as it is wild, can be combined with each other. through some thought. But shh, we won’t talk anymore.

Poetic and fabulous beauty

As we usually do, now let’s talk about technique and, of course, about the graphic palette. Needless to say, the Candleman was made with the utmost care. Playing with penumbra and light sources, games with variations between them have been designed with great intelligence. It is very poetic, charming and brightly emphasized by a variety of decors. Think, among other things, of these flowers blooming in the light of this soft light, acting as sublime transitions.

In terms of the sound environment, we are also pleasantly surprised by the themes that blend in perfectly with the atmosphere, even if they are sometimes quite restrained to leave room for various very well-done sound effects. Finally, keep in mind that if the narrator’s voice is in English, then the texts on the screen, with small shells, are entirely in French.

Tested on the switch

Very accessible, perhaps too much for some, the Spotlightor title was, and still is, a breath of fresh air in the video game world today. His concept, his ideas, his paintings, as well as his story take us to a memorable poetic and fabulous universe. In this way, the Candleman succeeded in rekindling the flame that is within us.


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