Sparklite Review

Sparklite is a top-down, procedurally-generated roguelike set in the world of Godea, a land plagued by quakes and overrun by monsters. To progress in the game, you battle, explore, and solve puzzles as Ada to collect power-ups and money in the form of sparklite. This can then be used to upgrade both your base and the NPC’s that provide your weapons and equipment. Sparklite is a hybrid type of game, equal parts action-adventure, role-playing, fighting, and retro. It’s component parts mesh well together and make for an enjoyable romp.

Core gameplay is an explore, fight, loot and upgrade loop. When done well – and with Sparklite, it is done well – this mechanic compels the player to do just “one more run”. It nibbles away the time until before long it’s 5 am and the sun is rising on another day. Yet still, I felt loathe to put down my controller.

The controls are easy to pick up. There’s a dash, a weapon swing and assignable gadget/power-ups; everything is a touch or a tap away. Home base is a floating platform, only accessible by airship (presumably) although I only got there after dying, via a “claw” similar to the dollar-per-game amusement contraption, my carcass hoisted into the air  only to awake sometime later in my bed rejuvenated and ready for another go.

After awakening, I could spend my hard-earned coins to buy permanent power-ups (sort of like runes) or equip ones that I found on the surface. The catch is that there is only a certain amount of space in the container that holds them. Less powerful runes, for example, might take up one square, but better, stronger runes may be several squares in size. There’s a measure of rune management where sacrificing a powerful rune for several lesser ones may work on one run, but not the next. However, larger containers can be purchased with sparklite. Luckily, sparklite isn’t forfeited on death and each run nets at least a little of it, so upgrades can be saved up for.

Before heading back to the surface it pays to stop by the power-up vendor. He gives out a free one before each trip which was great because they all drop on death. It’s a nice mechanic because it promotes using them – no need to hoard them when they all go away anyway. Not to say that they shouldn’t be used judiciously, but on my trips to the surface I almost always had enough to get me through whatever situation called for them. On the floating platform there is also a gadget inventor, and he keeps a shop open to convert blueprints/recipes found on the surface into equipment. Both shops can also be upgraded so that stronger power-ups and gadgets can be built.

The characters in Sparklite explain the procedural generation of each run through quakes that randomize the surface. On the surface are caves, buildings, monsters, loot chests, and other surprises. Each area is a separate biome accessible only after beating the boss of the current biome. Progression gets increasingly difficult as the cost to each next level gets more expensive, and that’s the loop – do more to get more to do more to get more…

Conclusion

The core loop to Sparklite certainly holds some appeal, the loop sucking you into just one more go – time and time again. Fans of procedurally generated rogue-likes will find ample here to keep the interest and perhaps even new players may be drawn into the loop too.

This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox One. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version. Game provided by the publisher.
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Good
  • Pixelated graphics are easy on the eyes
  • Has a compelling gameplay loop
  • Progression is well-paced and achievable
Bad
  • Not a ton of depth - the loop is all there is
8.3
Great
Gameplay - 8.5
Graphics - 8.5
Audio - 7
Longevity - 9
Written by
I was gaming way before it was cool or accepted, when games were sold in ziplock bags and gaming clues required a letter and a SASE to the actual developer. I’m not saying that like it’s a credential or an odd badge of honor, but as a statement that video games can be fun and engaging independent of graphics, the number of player choices allowed, or game mechanics. I felt the same sense of joy and exhilaration with text-based games of yore as I do playing the most advanced games of today.

1 Comment

  1. Great review! This was a game I was interested in playing and probably still will at some point. I may move it back on my list though.

    Reply

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