Sparklite

Sparklite is a top-down, action adventure title by Red Blue Games. Straight away, it is easy to notice the inspirations from the 16-bit era of gaming. The classic, SNES style graphics are packed with charm, detail, and whimsy. Sparklite begins with the protagonist, Ada, losing control of her airship and crashing into the land of Geodia. She finds the land tainted, with a mysterious and evil Baron using his Titans to undo the otherwise peaceful world. This opening scene is cleverly used as a quick tutorial for the game’s controls, operating as both a clean intro to the story, and acclimator to the game’s mechanics. This game does a fantastic job of quickly on boarding a new player and getting things moving.

The gameplay of Sparklite is smooth and enjoyable. Controls are tight, and moving around the world is genuinely fun. Smashing into enemies with your trusty wrench has weight, and you always feel in direct control of your movements. Aside from the wrench, Ada can find blueprints for gadgets that she can craft and have permanently accessible for every future adventure. These gadgets are uniquely powerful, and often are required for progression into new areas. Widgets are temporary items found in the world; they range from mines to healing packs, but always have limited uses. Ada may also find “patches” for her patch board while adventuring. These can be fitted and customized when in town, offering advantages like more health, higher damage, or exposing locations on unrevealed parts of the map.

Every visit to the world of Geodia is randomly generated. Major progress and currency is kept between attempts, but all widgets and explored areas of the map are lost. This is explained in the narrative, and works well for the “rogue-like” adventuring. What I feel Sparklite does better than other “rogue-likes” is the world map it generates has some geographic consistency. Always starting around the middle of the map, each of the other zones is consistently located (the swamp is always to the south, for example). Randomly generated areas do have their downsides, though. Twice during my playthroughs rooms were created that had no exits (the exit tile was above the wall). That left me with no other option but to quit and return to the main menu, losing all progress. On another session, enemies that I needed to dispose of to open a door slid outside the room through the walls, causing another end to a long, potentially profitable adventure.

The soundtrack is memorable, appropriate, and energetic. Every different region you visit has its own vibe, each entirely fitting for the game. Aside from the beautifully smooth pixelated artwork, a major component of the charm for Sparklite is its music. Composer Dale North has done some excellent work in the past on titles like Wizard of Legend and The Long Return. A composer I think we should all keep an eye on.

My total time played with Sparklite was around 5 hours. I fully completed the story, and was impressed with the world that was built, the story that was told, and the boss fights that brought it all together. Outside of a few technical hiccups, my entire experience was enjoyable. I am usually very skeptical when it comes to randomly created maps. I am of the opinion that a hand crafted world will always contain superior gameplay to that of a generated tile set. However, Sparklite somehow surpassed my expectations and consistently crafted maps that were largely engaging and full of adventure.

~~Ian Voegtle~~

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