Candy Raid reminds me of those old-school games where you don’t REALLY know what you’re doing, but it’s continually taking you in a random direction that feels like it’s off the beaten path, but then BAM, you’re actually going the right direction.
The first thing I noticed about this game was it’s passing similarity to Legend of Zelda. It’s got the top down view, the move in 4 directions thing, but, instead of shooting magical swords out of your sword in a way that doesn’t make any sense, you shoot magic, and you shoot magic regardless of how much health you have. You have three types of power, Fire, Ice, and Wind, and you can switch at will. The game starts off with you trapped in a box surrounded by trees, that you can burn with fire. The game tells you nothing, just figure it out! The rest of the puzzles are the same, but, that’s where the novelty and fun come from in a game like this, actual exploration, like the Legend of Zelda, on NES.
Graphically, the game’s super basic, it’s not aggressively bright or realistic, and, honestly, I’m really happy with them. You’re a wizard girl, Harry, and that basically means you walk around blasting things with fire, ice, and wind powers. I really appreciate the music. It’s bright, and kinda cheesy without being annoying. The game touts itself as a family-friendly non-violent puzzle action and adventure game, and it totally fits that description. Sometimes you don’t need to kill things for a game to be fun, and this definitely fits the bill.
The game has your standard mysterious puzzles/obstacle courses to get through to get to the end of the game, while also collecting candy along the way. The thing is, candy is not a requirement in the strict sense, you need to get it for the endings, but, overall, it’s just something for you to collect on the way. This means the game is designed around hiding candy in ways that is satisfying to find.
One of the things you should know in advance, this game is extremely short. There’s nothing wrong with that, it’s about the length of a classic NES game, probably will beat it your first time at about 45 minutes. This helps fit the retro aesthetic and it’s important, because the mechanics are great for this. It also helps build up a speedrunning community. (I believe the top time is in the low 10s, now.) If you’re going to get all upset about getting a short game, this isn’t the game for you, but, if you’re looking for something with a retro aesthetic and some solid level design, by all means, you’ll find it here. I particularly enjoyed the “arrows on the floor” room where you had to figure out which pathways to go on to get to the end, it was frustrating, but, once I figured it out, I felt like a champ. It wasn’t luck, either. I could have just… made some observations and been through it faster. Everything in the game follows this design philosophy. If you make an observation of a rule in the world, then it’s always true. So, you learn pieces about the game to progress.
An example, when you start inside that box of trees, the game starts you with the fire spell on. The reason is that fire burns trees, and you’ll learn to fire by mashing buttons because nobody reads instructions. After that, you know that trees can be burned down with fire from then on. They are used in a few more areas, but, that’s a really simple mechanic, so, it’s kinda dropped fairly quick, because things like walls attached to switches become more common, then walls attached to switches with turrets, it stacks to make you learn more and more about the game’s rule set.
I’m completely satisfied with the length of the game vs. the mechanics in the game. It’s just set up to be fun without becoming a painstakingly long game where you’re reusing mechanics and puzzles, or artificially padding length by backtracking. This game removes all of that nonsense. It’s unnecessary, and it’s why we think that every game needs to be 80 hours long. We accept busywork instead of actual gameplay.
I really enjoy the game. It’s classic feel and overall fun are things that are missing in a lot of new games that attempt to be retro, and, I have spent quite a bit of time talking to the developer. He’s a young man, early in his career, but he’s smart and headstrong. I’m happy with the way things are working out, and, if this is just one piece of a much larger collection of games he’s involved in, it’s going to be a good collection.
Disclosure: We received this game for free.
Developed by: KR Game Studios