A sharp looking adventure with a somewhat disappointing pay-off.
If you are in need of a puzzle platformer, the Nintendo Switch has plenty. Candle is a game that fits nicely into that niche. Well made in various areas, it never reaches too many highs. The atmosphere is engrossing, but the fixation on certain elements drags down the experience.
The story is decent and the meaning isn’t very subtle. The naughty Wakcha has taken a Shaman hostage, and it is up to you to make things right. As the fearless leader Teku, you must keep the village organized in order to make it thrive. Teku journeys through lush environments solving puzzles. The story highlights the everyday struggles as well as serving a higher plain. It is intriguing, but only goes just far enough to make you keep playing. There aren't really that many surprises here, which I found disappointing.
Candle delivered a big mishmash of feelings. The controls are fine, but there is an odd feeling to it where everything doesn't feel exactly right. This is frustrating, particularly in moments where precision is key. An abundance of checkpoints helps to balance the frustration. A Metroid-esque design makes backtracking key and thankfully enough surprises are in store to make these detours worth your time.
Puzzles are a bit harsh. A good chunk of them I actually really enjoyed, but the required details never seemed too obvious. This worked sometimes, but I found myself relying too much on the hint system. Even at that, the hints that Candle provided me weren't always great. I found myself looking at everything in the world. The exploration aspect is enjoyable, but Candle becomes more guesswork as a result. I had the most fun when I came up with my own solutions, even if it required more legwork. At the very least, the puzzles tried some creative things, which made the experience a bit more special.
As an experience, Candle scrapes by just being enough of everything. This is in comparison to a stellar presentation, which is a sight to behold. I was shockingly impressed by the sheer amount of care put into the environments, as they are multi-layered and lush with color. Add in a very atmospheric soundtrack and you have a delightful, vibrant world.
Candle is just fine. With some unresponsive controls and frustrating puzzles, it doesn’t stick the landing. That isn't great, but there is enough to like here if you are craving a new puzzle platformer. The presentation is, thankfully, utterly brilliant. Once it is all over though, you won't really feel a desire to return. The experience is an uneven one, but it balances just enough on the right side.