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Candle Knight: A Dazzling Adventure in the Realm of Wax

First and foremost, let’s talk about Candle Knight—it’s a splendid game. Featuring a literal candle as the protagonist, the game places a significant emphasis on gameplay and aesthetics, excelling in both aspects. Call me shallow, but it was the graphics of the game that initially captivated me. Having spent a considerable time playing the preview version, let me tell you what makes it a winning experience and what aspects need a bit more attention.

Aesthetically, Candle Knight is a blend of the somewhat niche Death’s Door and the darkness of Dark Souls. While Death’s Door opts for a bright and colorful style, performing excellently on Sega’s short-lived game machine, the upcoming game from Dracma Studios promises a dark and weighty experience, paying considerable homage to From Software’s design style. However, this darkness implies that light sources are genuinely prominent.

You take on the role of a humanoid candle in a medieval knight’s attire, but the preview version hasn’t revealed any information about the narrative or background. All I know is that, in true old-school platform game style, you must move to the right, navigating enemies and obstacles in each level. All of this takes place in a striking 2.5D perspective, mostly clear and occasionally switching to an overhead view in specific situations.

Combat and jumping take center stage and show promise but haven’t reached their peak yet. The attacks have considerable force, and the enemies pose a significant challenge. You start defenseless but quickly acquire a sword and then a shield, enabling basic attack and defense options. As you progress, you gain ranged attacks, as well as traditional sprinting and double-jumping. These mechanics blend to create some fantastic platforming sections that, by the end of the preview, are just beginning to showcase their uniqueness.

The key unique selling point here is the built-in risk and reward mechanism; attacking enemies or unlit candles increases your burning state. This enhances your attack power but comes at the cost of enduring an equal amount of damage. You can extinguish the flame by using ranged attacks or exhaust, but the latter makes you vulnerable during combat, so it’s not recommended. It’s a clever idea, but reaching full burn and then encountering spikes or disappointing collision detection can result in instant death.

So far, everything is inspiring. However, despite thoroughly enjoying my time with this preview version, Candle Knight still has some work to do to reach its full potential. Controls are decent, but jumping feels quite clumsy, especially when you unlock wall jumping later on, and there are currently too many blind jumps. The boss fights I engaged in were also disappointing, especially a snake/worm boss that felt like it hadn’t fully come together. Better indicators are needed, as in one area, I entered a painting but found myself teleported nearby instead of going through the painting. Many chests (of which there are many hidden in levels) seem to contain nothing of substance, and there’s a section where you climb shelves filled with breakable jars, and the walls seem to be transparent.

However, these complaints are expected to be addressed before release, and so is the optimization of the game. I believe a relatively straightforward 2.5D platformer (albeit a beautiful one) shouldn’t have my RTX 2060’s fan roaring and power usage at 100%. Considering it performs exceptionally well on my Steam Deck and might actually be more suited for handheld devices than sitting at a desk, it’s a bit disconcerting. Nevertheless, I’m still looking forward to checking out the final version later this year, as Candle Knight has all the necessary elements to shine brightly.

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