Tales From Candleforth Review – Grandmother, What Powers You Have!

Under the Bed Games’ 2D point-and-click folk horror puzzle game, Tales from Candleforth, starts by first introducing us to a mysterious collection of fairy tales within a magic, forbidden book. We then kick off into the prologue, taking control of Dorothy who is desperately trying to leave her home as tears begin to appear throughout the house; the text of the book is bleeding out, and we must solve a selection of puzzles before escaping, leaving a note for our granddaughter. After the prologue, we carry on Tales from Candleforth as Dorothy’s granddaughter, Sarah, who runs the family apothecary and goes searching for her grandmother, having inherited her powers which enable her to see and manipulate the tears, each of which show a puzzle presented in a 2D cutout aesthetic, much like a fairy tale picture book.

Tales from Candleforth acts similar to an escape room game.  We must search for key items and solve the tear puzzles to find the ingredients our grandmother needs to escape her predicament. We use point-and-click mechanics to search each room and building for key or interactable items. Unfortunately, these aren’t highlighted unless you hover the cursor directly over them, so a lot of my time spent on Tales from Candleforth involved pixel hunting for anything I’d missed – an immediate pet peeve of mine with point-and-click games. In fact, some things that are interactable in puzzles, such as a slider on a puzzle where we could slide the background from night to day to complete it, can be highlighted at all and you have to find them by just randomly clicking and dragging the cursor across in hope that something might move – meaning I spent even MORE time thinking there was nothing more to interact with only to discover this.

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I’m sure this is nothing to be concerned about.

While plenty of Tales from Candleforth’s puzzles are unique and challenging, which a nice mix of them too so they don’t get repetitive, there was a frustrating number of puzzles that simply required remembering a selection of symbols in one room and then going back to enter them into a puzzle in the next room. While these are fine every now and again, after completing Tales from Candleforth my phone was filled with images taken of symbols so I wouldn’t forget them.

Tales from Candleforth is also guilty of my second puzzle game pet peeve which is puzzles that you can have the answer or key for, but they aren’t interactable until you’ve progressed in the game elsewhere – giving the player a false sense of not having what they need to complete that puzzle so they end up wasting time looking elsewhere. Tales from Candleforth did this a number of times during its short play length and I needed to go searching all the rooms and buildings again just to check if a tear had appeared that I needed to complete before I could progress with a certain puzzle – or determine that I just didn’t have what it needed yet.

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This puzzle required clicking on the tab in the upper left hand corner and dragging it across to turn the background into day, only the tab wasn’t highlighted as an interactable item so I didn’t notice this until much time was spent wondering where I was going wrong with this.

That being said, Tales from Candleforth was still fun and only took me around four hours to complete. While its story did end quite abruptly and could have done with a little more context, it was still intriguing. Without giving much more information, Dorothy requests in her letter that Sarah bring her three items to release her from the trouble she’s in. While we’re not given much time to get to know these characters or grow attached to them, I do find that sometimes short puzzle games such as this simply don’t require an epic plot to carry them. That being said, some further information on the circumstances behind Dorothy and Sarah’s powers would have been nice and also some further scenes at the end to give the game a proper send off rather than just cutting to the credits.

On top of this, the art style of Tales from Candleforth also takes full advantage of the 2D cutout aesthetic, setting it apart from other games in this genre. I took plenty of screenshots of certain scenes, which were truly beautifully illustrated with a gorgeous use of color and cutout layers. While doing general exploration, the game adopts a more sketchy, illustrated look, which suits it really well. I also enjoyed the orchestral soundtrack which uses the same tune throughout at varying intervals of dramatic significance, from a soft piano track while exploring the house, to a more epic style during intense moments.

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Tales from Candleforth’s cutout aesthetic is what truly sets it apart from other games in this genre. 

At four hours long, Tales from Candleforth is a neat puzzle game to complete in one sitting despite its design flaws.

Jess reviewed Tales From Candleforth on PC with a review code.

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