App Reviewed on: iPhone SE
User Interface Rating:
Replay Value Rating:
Just in time for Halloween, Tako Boy Studios and Crescent Moon Games have released a spooky arcade roguelite called Candies n' Curses, and as it turns out, it's pretty great. It may not be quite as sleek and straightforward as the incredible Downwell, but Candies n' Curses offers up some great, seasonally-appropriate action nonetheless.
Light in the darkness
In Candies n' Curses, you play as Molli Pop in a mansion that is crawling with supernatural baddies. Armed with your trusty light, it's up to you to shine your light in the darkness to take down your foes as you fight your way up to the Phantom King.
Reaching the Phantom King isn't exactly a walk in the park, though. It's very likely you'll die in Candies n' Curses before you even reach the first boss on your first couple playthroughs, but that's all part of the fun. As a roguelite, each death lets you power up slightly before diving back into the game from the very beginning.
Each level of Candies n' Curses is a variation on the same idea. You're presented with a stage that has four different floors that you can jump between at will. Your goal is to navigate these narrow floors and use your light source to kill all the ghouls and ghosts that appear in hopes of making a boss appear.
If you're able to make your way through the stage and boss fight, you get the opportunity to pick up a small powerup before continuing on. Do this six or so times without dying and you get a shot at taking on the Phantom King and beating the game.
Candies n' Curses may sound like a simple variation on Downwell, but there's a ton of detail present throughout the experience to make it stand out. First and foremost is the game's style, which manages to convey a ton of Halloween-y personality in its pixel art aesthetic. More importantly though, Candies n' Curses sports stuff like daily challenges, different light sources to unlock, and equippable charms that help make every run in the game feel different.
These added mechanical layers to Candies n' Curses make it feel like more than a standard arcade game, but it's also where the game's monetization scheme inserts itself most aggressively. Every unlock and upgrade in the game costs currency. This currency can be earned just by playing the Candies n' Curses, but you can earn more of it more quickly by watching ads and/or spending money. Don't get me wrong, Candies n' Curses is a fun enough game that I'm happy to spend $4.99 to get rid of pop-up ads and other things, but some “watch ad” to continue or earn more currency things still persist after making this purchase. Things like this just kind of cheapen what is otherwise a great experience.
The bottom line
Candies n' Curses is a great arcade roguelite with a slightly disappointing free-to-play model. It's fast, fun, and bursting with enough spooky personality to make this a quality game to revisit every October. It'd sure be nice to get all of that without having to think about watching ads or purchasing currency though.