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Candleman review - A subtly illuminating platformer


For: iPhone   Also on: iPad
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Waxing lyrical

Product: Candleman | Format: iPhone | Players: 1 | Version: Europe
 
Burning the candle at both ends. The light that burns twice as bright burns half as long.

The humble candle sure is a handy metaphor for mortality, huh?

Which brings us to Candleman, an elegant platformer with a fascinatingly flawed protagonist.

Wick-id, man

Our little candle-man (aha!) can run and jump like all the other platformer stars, but its main ability comes at a price.

You can flare up at will with a press and hold of the right side of the screen, which enables you to light the other static candles dotted around each gloomy level. However, you only have enough waxy substance to fuel said burn for 10 seconds in total.



That sounds pretty measly, but it's comfortably enough to get you through each of Candleman's streamlined levels. What it does do is subtly transform a simple platformer into a more strategic, puzzley affair.

Is that extended walkway bathed in darkness? Then allow yourself a tiny blip of light, commit the layout to memory, and concentrate on sticking to the appropriate line.

Burning brightly

Besides managing your light usage, Candleman's challenge resides in straight forward jump timing, simple spatial puzzles, and finding all of the unlit candles before you reach the level exit.

The platforming is hardly revelatory, but there are some imaginative settings here. The opening chapters take place on a creaky old ship, which tilts with the waves, giving context to those moving platform sections.



It's the same thing with the puzzles. These usually involve bumping into objects to move them to a more advantageous position, but the physical nature of these objects - a floating wooden lid, a rolling jar - provides tactile seasoning to the game.

Indeed, the entire game is rendered in exquisite detail, with wood, metal and flora all looking, sounding, and reacting convincingly. The subtle lighting effects, meanwhile, do a good job of keeping you in the dark whilst still showing off this moodily pretty game world.

Short fuse

In the case of both the platforming and the puzzling, Candleman's imprecise controls let the side down a little.

The virtual analogue stick is a little wallowy and hard to predict, which caused some annoying falls during the more precarious challenges.



Similarly, swiping up to jump never feels quite as intuitive and responsive as is could be. I also found myself frequently blipping the flame function just prior to a jump.

It's enough to pull the game back from classic status, but it certainly doesn't ruin the run. Candleman remains one of the most compellingly beautiful mobile platformers I've played this year.
 
Candleman review - A subtly illuminating platformer
Reviewer photo
Jon Mundy | 30 March 2018
An elegant, imaginative platformer with an intriguing mechanic and beautiful visuals
 
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