“Why do I burn?”
It’s a simple question, and probably not unlike one we’ve all asked ourselves at some point in our lives. Candleman: The Complete Journey is an indie adventure puzzle game available for Xbox One, PC, IPhone/IPad, and most recently, PlayStation 4.
The game is both delightfully simple and aesthetically mesmerizing, as we follow the courageous and adorable Candleman in his search for meaning.
Deep inside the ship’s bilge, we meet Candleman as he awakens. Once outside, he looks up to see a huge beacon lighting up the night sky. “How can I burn like you?” He asks it. With that, he makes up his mind to pursue this beacon in a quest to become just like it.
But the way ahead is dark and full of obstacles and evils to overcome as he makes his way through the darkness of the bilge and into a variety of settings throughout his journey such as a furnace, a pond, a cave, a cavern, and the lighthouse itself.
The controls are simple but effective. Aside from the directional pad, only two other buttons are used: a jump button and one to ignite your flame. Throughout each level, the game utilizes various creative ways to use this flame burning such as seeing through the darkness, blossoming flowers, defrosting ice, and even warding off spirits.
The catch? You only get a total of 10 seconds per level to burn your wick, so learning to use it strategically is a big part of the game.
The game’s aesthetics are gorgeous and magical, and the way the light and shadows are used serves to create a gloriously dreamy landscape, perfectly ripe for a whimsical quest. In one particular level, you must hop and float up a cascade of books, its pages moving and pulsating with blue magic.
The sound design is one of the game’s strongest features, with hypnotic and almost oddly satisfying acoustics, which utilize effects like reverberation perfectly to recreate the atmosphere of each level. There is almost no music throughout the game aside from light whimsical ambiance, which really underscores the sound design and gives it a refreshingly unique and grounded vibe.
Within each level is a series of small candles you can ignite to gain more points, some of which are tougher to find. The puzzles aren’t anything too complex, which may disappoint some, but, being someone who isn’t the biggest puzzle game fan, I actually found it refreshing.
Just as in life, there are some twists and turns in Candleman’s journey for purpose. Without giving too much away, our hero learns some valuable lessons about himself and his identity. We can shoot for the stars and some of us might indeed reach them, but sometimes it’s what we’re able to accomplish along the way that makes the most lasting impression to those around us.
Candleman: The Complete Journey is something special, and is especially impressive for an indie title. Many will be less engaged with its familiar use of puzzle game mechanics, but those who appreciate a solid story with beautiful aesthetics without having to think too hard will be more than satisfied with their investment.
Now, here’s to hoping my dreams will all look this good…
I give it 4.0 beacons out of 5