STAFF REVIEW of Candle: The Power of the Flame (Xbox One)

Wednesday, August 1, 2018.
by Kirsten Naughton

Candle: The Power of the Flame Box art I have only been reviewing video games for a short while now, but I have been exposed to a mixture of genres. Some I've liked, and others obviously not so much. There are only three games that have blown me away completely, and Candle: The Power of Flame is one of them. You're in for a treat ladies and gentlemen, as Merge Games have outdone themselves. I am a sucker for beautiful graphics, or in this case, the artistic style. I have a couple things that I quite enjoyed about this game, and also a few I didn't as much.

The first thing I enjoyed about this game is of course the watercolor artwork and visual style, so props to the individuals who no doubt spent hours and hours painting everything for this game. Truth be told, I can't draw very well. In fact, today I drew a picture of my manager's head and the drawing looked like a five year old drew it. It didn't look like him whatsoever. So where am I going with this?

Well, I wish I could paint (or even draw) a fraction as good as these fantastic artists who helped bring the game alive. You can tell as you make your way through the game, and watching the beautiful cutscenes, that someone put their heart and soul into the visuals. The artwork compliments the narrative in way that one has to appreciate. Actually, it complements the narrative so well in fact, that they go hand in hand. In my opinion, the game would not be the same without one complimenting the other.

The second thing I really enjoyed about Candle: The Power of the Flame is the narrative and overall story line. Even though I'm a sucker for graphics, I'm also one for a good story. Something that draws you in keeps you interested and makes you want to play more.
In the very beginning of the game you play as Teku, a tribesman. The narrator takes you through some history in the beginning, explaining that the gods used light to create the Earth. Once water and plant life had become fulfilling and sustainable, they stepped back and watched as evolution took over. Initially the tribesmen lived a peaceful existence, but then greed took over and the want for power became stronger.

As you can imagine, things started to go wrong. Unfortunately, the gods didn't appreciate what was happening with the way things were going, so they destroyed the world and started over again... four times is the current count at this point. Fifth times a charm, right? Well, no. Teku returns to his village as it is going up in flames! As I respect those gamers that don't like a lot of spoilers, I won't say anything else, but I assure you, this story gets much, much more exciting and captivating. But with any game, especially those fantastic games that had me near speechless, video games aren't perfect.

What I didn't enjoy about this game was the controls for Teku. Now, usually controls are pretty standard for a platform title, hit a button and your character completes an action. I'm okay with those kinds of games, as it makes the experience relaxing and easy going, but with this game unfortunately, I feel the controls are a little clunky. If you happen to stumble upon a cliff where you think you need to jump onto the other side, you will likely die. Very rarely was I able to jump freely and make it to the other side of the cliff. I found myself getting frustrated because the places I thought I could jump, I actually couldn't, even though it looked like there was something there I may want to see. I like to explore the environment in a video game, as I get curious. Especially the kind of games that have puzzles that I have to complete to progress.

Another thing I didn't enjoy about this game was the puzzles. Now, let me explain. The puzzles are fantastic... once you figure out what the puzzle is. There were quite a few times where I was wandering around the same areas, going back to a different area, wandering around there and heading back to the last place the narration took place, utterly confused in the process.

There isn't much hand holding in this game, which is fine for some folks who are quick with understanding the narrative right off the bat, but when you're stuck, the narrator doesn't repeat themself regarding what they last said to at least remind you of what you should be doing.

When you press the action button and it isn't what the game wants (e.g. you're not doing what it expects you to do), Teku just puts his arms up and shrugs which, after two hours of playing this game with mostly Teku shrugging his shoulders at me, had me irritated slightly. That was, until I randomly figured out the puzzle and then ended up dying because something came out of nowhere without any warning. So, you'll try again over and over, and again, you die. Even though you try jumping out of the way, or coming at the thing that is killing you at another angle, you die. Now, surprisingly this is not a deal-breaker but something worth noting, and something you will have to adjust to. I still enjoyed my time with Teku, this is just something that I know will annoy some gamers.

Despite the couple of hiccups, Candle: The Power of the Flame is well worth the time to play, and personally, I don't feel that I wasted my time. At the end of the day, it's a fantastic, beautifully painted and well thought out piece of art that I would recommend to anyone. Buy this, sit down and prepare to have a good time, because this flame isn't going out anytime soon!

Please make more games!

Overall: 8.0 / 10
Gameplay: 7.0 / 10
Visuals: 9.5 / 10
Sound: 9.0 / 10


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