Sparklite is a beautiful action-adventure inspired by Zelda with a delicate roguelike touch. Just know it’s either the “Grind Way” or the Highway with this game.
The lands of Geodia need a hero to step up and take down an evil mining magnate hoarding all the Sparklite, the planet’s lifeblood. Grab a wrench, fight the local wildlife, and grind for all the Sparklite you can carry.
Explore the Lands of Geodia
The greedy Baron and his four Titans are polluting the lands of Geodia, poisoning, and mutating its inhabitants. They mine for Sparklite, a blue ore that contains a tremendous amount of energy, to power their war machines. It’s up to you to stop them from doing any more hurt to the planet, and save Geodia.
The five evil titans rule the five districts of Geodia. Each region is different in its ecosystem, color scheme, and soundtrack. The creatures who dwell there adapted their appearance, and combat style, to fit the environment.
Earthquakes scramble the layout of the land each time you visit, adding a much-needed roguelike element through procedurally-generated levels. However, no matter how hard the earth shakes, each screen still contains the same creatures and treasure chests. As a result, most runs feel very similar to previous ones.
Everything in this world, from the environments to the characters and vicious wildlife, is rendered in charming pixel art. The game’s simple design sits well with the art style and doesn’t feel like it needs high-fidelity graphics. The soundtrack immediately throws you back to the era of classic top-down adventure games, and marks Geodia as a world worth exploring.
A Young Mechanic and Her Robot
Opposing these titans of industry are Ada and Wingnut – a young mechanic and her loyal robot companion. When your airship crashlands in Geodia, your goal becomes clear – defeat the evil Baron and his henchmen. And collect lots and lots of Sparklite.
You play as Ada most of the time, and you swing your wrench at the mutated wildlife and dash your way between the different areas of Geodia. But while you’re zipping around, you’ll run into puzzles, which is where Wingnut comes in.
Wingnut is as useful as it is loyal. You can take control of it to pull of sorts of things out of the ground, clear mud off the floor, and even light torches when it’s too dark to see.
But Ada is where the action’s at, and you’ll spend the majority of the game with her, collecting Sparklite, upgrading your tools and power-ups, and building shops. You’ll need everything you can get if you want to survive a fight against a Titan and not end up in the clouds above before your time.
Ada in the Sky with Upgrades
Your hub hovers above Geodia. It serves as a refugee camp for the charming, yet underdeveloped characters you save during your quest. It is also the place you happen to spawn when you die.
After constructing and powering up some of its facilities, the hub is where you go to gets stronger. It’s where you equip patches on your omni-tool to increase your health, damage, and defense. Some patches can also help you navigate once you land back down on Geodia.
For an extra edge, you can collect random consumables and craft gadgets such as a Spark-Slinger and a Boom-Ballon after you obtain their blueprint. Unfortunately, everything costs a fair amount of Sparklite, so you’ll need a lot of it. This is where the grinding-fest begins.
Not Everything Sparkles
You quickly get to a point where you have to grind for Sparklite, or you just can’t deal enough damage to fight your way through the game and progress. Grinding can be fine if you’re working towards a new skill or advanced weapons. Unfortunately, you can only enhance your health, defense, and damage, so you keep griding just to stay slightly ahead of your enemies.
A few other small things make you feel relatively weak throughout the entire game. Your ranged weapons deal little to no damage, but still consume your limited energy. Even when you use your patches to increase their effectiveness, it’s not enough to make a significant difference.
Also, offensive consumables are nearly impossible to use during a fight since it takes too long to use them. You can only rely on your patches (which you can only upgrade in the hub) and a few healing potions to get you through a tough encounter.
You cannot change the game’s difficulty, so the only way to make things easier on yourself if you feel stuck is to go out there and grind for more Sparklite.
An Adventure for One
Sparklite supports local co-op once you beat the first Titan. However, the second player gets to play as Wingnut and not a second character that can do everything Ada does. Asymmetric co-op is nothing new, but player 2 will get very bored very quickly as Wingnut. There’s just not a lot they can do.
Giving the cuter robot even a couple of offensive and defensive abilities would’ve created a fun co-op experience for both players. Wingnut could perhaps pick up small enemies and throw them off ledges, or suppress large mobs for a short duration. It could’ve possibly even grant Ada a shield or revive her after she receives a fatal blow.
Sparklite is an immersive top-down action-adventure game with a roguelike touch. The pixel art and the classic soundtrack cultivate a warm and nostalgic feeling from beginning to end.
Suitable for a single-player, the game provides a short, fun experience. Due to its forgiving nature, it welcomes new players to the roguelike genre. As long as they don’t mind the grind.
Developer: Red Blue Games
Publisher: Merge Games
Release Date: Nov. 14, 2019
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