Candle Light

Engine : Unity Engine

Language: C#, C++

Development Time : 10 month

Platforms : Windows PC

Team name: Somnia

Genre : Horror, Adventure, Stealth

High Concept : 1st person horror game


Candlelight is single-player, 1st person survival horror stealth game with an emphasis on light and sound. The player, trapped inside a strange temple, must remain hidden from the enemy that hunts them down, solve mysteries, and break the curse before their candle burns out.


Design Pillars

  • A memorable player experienced based around anxiety and sadness.

    • Specifically, we’re aiming to foster the emotions of loneliness, tension, panic, dread, grief, desperation, and guilt.

    • We also want to use a cult, which should add a weird and eerie feeling to the game.

  • The manipulation of candlelight will be our core mechanic.

  • The game uses a first-person perspective with a silent protagonist, and relies heavily on the environment, direct actions, and collectibles for storytelling.

  • If time allows, the game should include a hidden ending with an alternate objective, in order to add more content without expanding the approximately 15 minute length.

Engagement Types & Player Motivations

Engagement Types

  • Discovery (Primary): Emphasis will be placed on exploring the environment to find an exit and secrets. Hidden collectibles, objectives, and shifting terrain will aim to make most of a relatively small space. The aim is an engaging environment, not a large one.

  • Catharsis (Primary): The game will utilize a story that aims to stir emotions such as grief and loneliness, as well as to add to the feeling of fear in a way that enhances the horror game play. The story will mostly be told through environmental storytelling and direct actions. The player should experience fear and occasional panic as they play the game, making it an emotive experience. The narrative, and aesthetic details such as art and sound, should form a foundation for the game’s feel.

  • Sensation (Primary): Similarly, the mixture of atmospheric aesthetics, narrative dread, and near constant game play tension should create an intense feeling of sensation for the player.

  • Achievement (Secondary): While the game is more experienced based than mastery based, we want the player to feel accomplished whenever they complete a puzzle or find a secret collectible. These moments drive them forward through the game and create a feeling of progress.

  • Challenge (Secondary): Similarly, the stealth elements add a challenging aspect to the game, and should increase the feeling of tension and the resulting accomplishment when the player escapes.

Player Motivations

  • Safety (Primary): Much of the game is based on a constant feeling of tension and dread, as well as moments of panic. The goal of the game itself is to seek safety. This will make the moments of relief even more potent, and taps into the powerful survival instinct present in nearly all players. This battle between danger and the desire for safety is the driving force of the game, and what we most want players to take away from it.

  • Connection (Primary): The game is themed largely around loneliness - therefore, the absence of connection. This makes the relationships that the player does have with the other characters - the cultists and especially their twisted lost loved one - more powerful. This should make the moment when the cultists vanish effective, as well as foster the player’s desire to save their loved one from their lonely fate, as well as their desire to save themselves.

Target Audience

Fans of horror games, in particularly exploration based horror games such as Amnesia: The Dark Descent, should enjoy Candlelight. Fans of story-driven or atmospheric games may also enjoy it, especially if they also like the horror gameplay or narrative genres.

Target Length

The game should last 15 minutes for one ending, with an initial target of 5 minutes for the “first draft” of the game. If time allows, we may add an alternate ending to add more content and replay value without expanding on the overall length. The goal is to make a tight, polished, intense experience with strong engagement curves, rather than a prolonged one.

Rating & Content Restrictions

Due to DigiPen’s content restrictions, the game’s content rating can’t be higher than the equivalent of the ESRB’s E10 rating.

This means we must be careful to avoid using direct violence and graphic imagery (including blood) in the game. We will need to aim for more psychological and super-nature scares.

We also must make sure we don’t reference real world religions, rituals, or belief systems, as doing so requires special approval and is generally disallowed by DigiPen. We’ll need to design a cult, ritual, and belief system unique to only this game’s world instead.

Game Play

Candle Mechanics

A monster will pursue the player throughout most of the campaign, and the player must flee or hide.

Confirmed Components

  • The candle provides constant ambient light.

  • The candle constantly burns down - this acts as a “health” stat, and the candle burning out triggers the lose condition.

    • It can be replaced (“refilled”) by finding new candles.

    • It burns down faster in the monster’s presence.

  • Players can shine focused candlelight to interact with the environment.

  • Candlelight reflects of the monster’s locket - a tool the player can use to notice the monster.

    • Many other objects reflect light, including most other interactive objects, but the locket shine is visually distinct.

Possible Components

  • The candle can be used to dispel objects that only exist in shadow (walls, etc).

    • There are some situations where the player should be careful not to dispel objects that only exist in shadow (bridges, steps, etc).

  • The candle can be used to light other torches that act as checkpoints.

  • The candle’s light turns blue and/or its flame tilts in the monster’s direction.

  • If the candle burns out, the player’s heart will begin to pound with intensity that increases over time. If their heart pounds too loudly, it will draw the monster closer if she is not already in the area.

  • Unlikely Possibilities:

    • Lighting certain objects (curtains, etc) on fire? (too much tech work?)

    • Using candlelight to cast shadows for use in puzzles? (too much tech work?)

Stealth Mechanics

A monster will pursue the player throughout most of the campaign, and the player must flee or hide.

Confirmed Components

  • The player will need to avoid the monster’s AI by paying attention to sound and visual cues.

  • The monster occasionally emits a sobbing sound. When the monster is near, the player can also hear the tinkling sound of the monster’s locket.

  • The player’s candlelight also reflects off the monster’s locket. It can reflect from farther distances while focused.

  • If the monster sees the player, the monster will follow behind the player, making the candle burn out faster.

Possible Components

  • The player can move at 3 speeds, which affect how far away the player can be detected. Some floors also affect how far away the player can be detected.Running: The player can be detected from a long distance, drawing the monster closer nearly every time the player chooses to run.

  • If the player runs across a noisy floor, they can be detected from any distance.

  • Walking: The player can be detected from a short distance.

  • This becomes a medium or long distance if the player is walking across certain floors (creaky wood floors, etc).

Nightmare Room/ Exploration Mechanics

Confirmed Components

  • Some rooms will use localized, non-Euclidean physics to create intense horror experiences. These locations are called Nightmare Rooms.

    • For example, an endless staircase, an elongating hallway, a void-like room, etc.

    • These rooms will craft cinematic experiences and express dramatic narrative moments.

Unconfirmed Components

  • Environments may incorporate simple light puzzles.

    • These puzzles may primarily focus on aiming light reflections to correct locations.

    • Players can light checkpoint torches.

    • Players can discover and highlight collectibles (keys, journals, etc).

    • Players can dissolve objects made out of shadows (walls, boxes, etc) or use them while being careful to not dissolve them (bridges, hiding places, etc).

  • Unlikely Possibilities:

    • The player can use focused candlelight as a rope or grappling hook in Nightmare Rooms.

© 2020 By Wonjae Jung