Something I totally forgot to mention in the last progress log is that the candles littered around the levels can be seen regardless of how dark it is, even before they’ve been lit. This is one of those design decisions that ultimately has a huge impact, as having to constantly light to locate them would probably be a mess. Instead, you can freely wander around the darkness to find them if you want to, and that makes lighting them a much more enjoyable process than it’d be otherwise.
Levels are still being creative
The gameplay has evolved yet again by including these platforms that come into being for a short time when you light. You’re not just manipulating their visibility (I checked, which is why I almost immediately fell into a pit in the above video), but their very existence. Successfully getting through a level requires occasionally lighting to check for these platforms, then, as well as allowing some of them to disappear so that you can fall to another platform below. Once or twice, I even had to make one platform disappear and then quickly light to create another of these platforms below it. These levels also have blocks that move rhythmically and can crush you, and all of this combined makes for some weirdly relaxing levels.
Not a fan of what comes after
Once I moved on from those levels that I liked, things really took a turn for the worse. The gimmick here is that you have to navigate based on your position in the mirror, which effectively means having your up-down controls mirrored. On top of that, candle ghost things show up periodically, and with one exception that I’ll cover below, they don’t add anything positive to the experience. The truly annoying thing about these levels, however, is that there’s no way to get back up onto the higher platform once you drop down, and some of the candles are placed on the higher platform. That means that if you go for the first candle you see below, the only way to light all of the candles is to jump off of the ledge so that you respawn higher up.
The ghost things make sense here
I’m not a fan of the ghost candle things in most levels they show up in, but this one where the version of the candle you control is the one in the mirror (which means nothing is reversed) has an interesting mechanic where you’re constantly emitting a blue light, and the shadows you create can trigger switches that move blocks. The ghosts initially seem like distractions here, but you eventually have to lure them in such a way that they cast shadows on switches, which is pretty great. I wouldn’t say that it’s enough to make up for the preceding levels and all of the groan-inducing stupidity they required putting up with, but things like this certainly help.
Levels after that are decent, but not really remarkable. There are a ton of interlocking cogs that you have to use to climb up higher, but the areas eventually become large enough that finding all of the candles becomes a bit of a lengthy process. I kept thinking that one would be hidden inside of a larger cog, so I ended up wasting a lot of time standing around and watching them turn. The last candle I needed ended up being in plain sight at the very end. It just required pushing forward to become visible, and moving forward so much is a little daunting when you’re still missing something and you can already see the glowing end point.
Be sure to note that this is Candleman: The Complete Journey rather than simply Candleman. The final level (which could be considered a spoiler, so I’m not embedding it) is a kind of escape-the-boss encounter where tons of things are being destroyed around you and a beam of light melts you if you don’t use the environment to block it. Needless to say, this is a huge departure from the gameplay that makes up the rest of the game. This is where the game originally ended, and given the cutscene I got after the level was completed, I can absolutely see where reviewers were coming from when they mentioned that Candleman’s ending was depressing and came out of nowhere. However, 9-10 months after the base game was released, it received a free add-on called “Lost Light,” and that’s included in the Steam version as well. It’ll be interesting to see if it ends the game on a more fittingly whimsical note or sticks with the downer ending of the original. More than anything, though, I’m just glad to be able to play some more Candleman. Despite a few levels that I’d consider missteps, the vast majority of the gameplay thus far has been great.