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In Which You Are A Candle: Candlelight

Candlevania: Symphony of the Light.

By all rights, Candlelight should be the significantly dimmer prequel to Torchlight, but it’s not. The reality of the situation, however, might just be even better. See, you play as a candle. Now, if you just got into videogames four seconds ago, you might not know that we don’t normally coat our heroes in wax and set them on fire. Not often enough anyway. Not often enough. But Candlelight looks to take that uncommon concept in an attractive, surprisingly apocalyptic direction, so thank goodness. And honestly, the basic needs, desires, and life aspirations of a mournful, world-weary anthropomorphic candle might just lend themselves to an interesting game. Seriously! All will be illuminated after the break.

Right then, here is the disarmingly lonely tale of THE LAST CANDLE ON EARTH.

“After a series of catastrophic events extinguish all candles in the land, a lone surviving candle sets out on a most important adventure to bring light back to the land. The lone candle’s journey will not be easy as it must battle through rain, wind, water, lava, TNT and more. Will the candle’s life be extinguished before the journey is complete? Only you can help determine this land’s fate.”

And no, they’re not just playing up the whole “life extinguished” thing for dramatic effect. It’s an actual gameplay element. Now, if you just got into candles four seconds ago, you might not know that they normally slough into nothingness under the duress of their own fiery burden. But yeah, that’s a thing they do. So you’ve got to budget time between exploration and speeding to the end of areas. Otherwise, it’s lights out. Permanently. Forever. Which is pretty much the most mundanely depressing game premise I’ve ever heard.

On one hand, things like this make me seriously wonder if we’re running out of ideas for platformer heroes – or really just game heroes in general. But on the other, I find the notion of a lone candle on a dread journey to save the very thing that’s slowly consuming its body to be joyously sorrowful. Or maybe I’m just reading too far into it. But I hope not.

Then again, that element of harsh timing could make for a rather frustrating game – especially if levels are too long or checkpoints too few and far between. And of course, platformers live and die on tactile feeling. On a scale of one to swan, I don’t feel like candles would come out particularly well in terms of grace. So there are reasons to be slightly concerned. But the atmosphere seems to be in place, and there’s something about this candle’s plight that amuses me to no end. It’ll be out sometime this year.

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Nathan Grayson

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