Review – Sparklite
Sparklite, from RedBlue Games, is an action-adventure game available now on Nintendo Switch, PC, PS4, and Xbox One (version reviewed using code provided for review) that plays heavily on your nostalgia for the ‘good old days’ of gaming while still being its own unique thing.
This is a fascinating mix of gaming generations. There’s the 8-bit/16-bit art style and game design, particularly heavy – and obvious about it – on the Zelda influences, but there’s also the wildly ‘love it or hate it’ roguelike elements that have crept into so many modern games.
Players take the role of Ada as she takes on the Baron, an evil overlord who is mining all the Sparklite, an energy-producing resource, out of the lands of Geodia, causing it to crumble. If you’re choosing sides between an evil overlord destroying the world and the displaced inhabitants forced to live in a ramshackle town held up in the sky by balloons, the choice seems obvious. The evil overlord…oh, the townspeople, right! Yes, let’s help them.
That little bit of safety in the sky becomes the hub for the roguelike (or rogue-lite for this game) portions of the game, with Ada venturing down to the surface to explore Geodia and then return with new gadgets, newly rescued NPCs to inhabit the town, and Sparklite to spend. It’s these incremental upgrades that will allow Ada, in time, to take down the Titans that are mining the Sparklite from the world before they can get to the world’s Sparklite core, and gamers can grind out upgrades or try to rely solely on skill to get past tougher enemies.
And there are some tougher enemies out there. The boss fights, in particular, can have difficulty spikes that feel unfair until you figure out their patterns and the appropriate counters, and it’s entirely possible to just not be fully prepared enough to win a fight – though I’m sure there’ll be ‘no upgrade’ runs that show how it’s possible if you have otherworldly skills. I never really felt like a boss fight was impossible though, it just showed me that I needed to explore more and get Ada’s strength up or expand the town to make more items available.
It’s worth noting that the game is primarily single player, but once you’re past the opening sections of the game a second player can drop into the game to control Ada’s robot companion. Unless you’ve unlocked some abilities for them to use, however, this may not hold their interest for long.
What I liked:
- superb throwback artstyle
- awesome soundtrack
- good mix of puzzles
- wealth of upgrade options
What I didn’t like:
- can run into ‘grind out upgrades’ difficulty spikes
- some boss battles can have hard-to-read patterns/weakpoints