Candle: The Power of the Flame is the debut title by Teku Studios. When I saw pictures of this game I was awestruck by the art direction and immediately requested it for review. You play as Teku, a tree-like character who must save the village shaman from the villainous Wakcha tribe. They have destroyed much of your peaceful hometown and kidnapped the elder. The game gives the illusion of peace and harmony with the light-traveling music and beautiful environment, but every step you take is full of danger in all forms. Gamers who love ruthlessly challenging puzzles mixed with classic 2D gameplay should take notice.
Candle is a puzzling/platforming adventure that reminded me a lot of a lighter-toned Limbo (recently released for Switch) or Out of This World (SNES). These types of games always present an enormous difficulty level for me and Candle is the hardest of any of them. You must solve an array of multiscreen puzzles to overcome your current dilemma and move forward to the goal. If the Wakcha tribe doesn’t kill you or mystical creatures haven’t taken a bite out of you, then surely one of the countless environmental hazards or falling off a cliff definitely will. I’ve never played a game with so much trial and error or died so many deaths. Fortunately, you begin right where you met your end, otherwise the game would be impossible. Unfortunately I have to blame the controls for many of the deaths I experienced in the first hour of play. It takes some time to adjust to Teku’s slow and sluggish movements. Jumping is a chore that comes with often-deadly consequences. After a while I reconfigured my brain and hands to become accustomed to the odd movement, but honestly the game should just handle better.
The controls and deaths aside, the real challenge lies with the game’s many puzzles. This game borrows adventure elements from titles like Maniac Mansion, so you must pay close attention to detail to solve the multistep puzzles. They are often a blend of using and altering the environment to your advantage, locating and using items to assist you, and interacting with friendly creatures and fellow tribesmen. The game often isn’t as clear as I’d have liked and as a result I found myself wandering back and forth a lot trying to find out what I missed or what to do next. Thanks to Teku’s slow movement and play control, I found this more annoying and tedious than a fun challenge.
The power of the flame is one of the game’s main mechanics and is fun to utilize throughout the quest. Teku can light one of his hands when coming across a fire and then he can use it to activate panels and to frighten off enemies. However, there’s a downside to playing with fire: enemies can detect him and so he will need to extinguish it to avoid death.
Candle features a long introduction that explains the world’s history both past and present and the narrative continues as you progress further into the game. I found this to be extremely long-winded and quite boring. I did not care for the voice acting – he reminded me of a D-grade David Attenborough of Planet Earth fame. The story is a distant second to the gameplay and it didn’t really capture me.
The music and sound effects come across better. The soundtrack is best described as Latin American rural traveling music. It’s very light and soothing, which is a perfect fit for the peaceful atmosphere. Although the tracks were far from memorable, they served as quality background music while trying to figure out puzzles and where to go next in this difficult game.
Where this game truly excels is in its breathtaking artwork. The whole world has been hand-drawn in watercolors and looks incredible. The illustrators did an amazing job throughout the game with the landscapes, creatures, and characters. Every detail is gorgeous and full of life. I only wish a stronger story would have accompanied these stylistic graphics.
This game features graphics like no other game I’ve ever seen and is the most visually appealing indie game on the Switch. However, a game is only as good as its gameplay, and style over substance is never a recipe for a truly fantastic title. The controls are tough to master, and as a result the puzzles can be extremely frustrating. The fun factor just wasn’t there for me, and after a few hours I was ready to move on to a new game. Still, $14.99 is a reasonable price for a game of this caliber and if you enjoy pretty visuals and high difficulty, then you’ll find a lot to like with Candle.
Candle: The Power of the Flame was reviewed using a final retail Nintendo Switch download code provided by the publisher.
Aaron got his NES in 1991 and has loved and collected video games ever since. In addition to gaming, he enjoys Stephen King novels, Twins Baseball, and his cats.