Sparklite – Xbox One Review
Our Xbox One review of Sparklite
When I first saw the trailer for Sparklite, my first reaction was to reminisce about how good the old top-down Zelda games were. Getting my hands on the game, I was a little concerned that I’d spend the whole time comparing the two… credit to Red Blue Games, Sparklite is a lot more than just a gimmicky copycat!
Set in the ever-changing world of Geodia, you play Ada the hero tasked with stopping the evil Baron. Your objective is to stop him from mining all of the precious Sparklite, for his own greed. However after your airship crashes, you wander the land of Geodia for the first time and find a den. In here you find one of the baron’s henchmen, and your captured robot friend.
Armed at first with just your trusty wrench (a Lock’s Quest homage?!) you stand no chance of defeating the baron. To say you are quickly defeated is an understatement. For a split second, whilst the game loads, you’re left wondering if this is some sick Darksouls-esque game. I confess I nearly gave up there and then! Thankfully that’s not the case, as you load into a new scene and Ada lying on a bed.
When Ada wakes up is where the game officially begins, and you meet a group of new characters. It turns out they pulled you from the jaws of death on their airship/city/thingy. Each person you speak to explains that you will need to be a lot stronger to have a chance to beat the baron. One upgrades your wrench to allow for the inclusion of widgets. Another explains Sparks and how you can use them. The widgets crucially offer bonuses to damage, health, map reveals and more. As you move through the game you will unlock more powerful widgets and perks. You will also be able to upgrade your existing ones, freeing up more room!
As well as the weapon power-ups, you will find on your journey a number of limited use boosters and also unlock Spark-powered gadgets. The first two you get are a crossbow and exploding balloons, both of which prove vital in trying to survive the ever-changing landscape of Sparklite.
It is this ever-changing landscape that is a key factor to keeping this game fresh, and prevents exploring getting a bit repetitive.
Red Blue Games have incorporated a procedurally generated mapping system into Sparklite. This means that every time you leave the map (by dying), when you return to the dungeon you are faced with a brand new map layout, and a number of new unique tiles. Thankfully you can unlock maps that mean you are able to foresee the new map layout. Something that I think was very important so as not to frustrate players having to fully explore every time!
Sparklite is one of those games whereby dying frequently actually aids you. You can continually collect Sparks, and there are a number of new upgrades each time you revisit the dungeons. In time you will reach a peak whereby you cannot really find any more unique upgrades and items… That’s when you want to face the first boss, Boris the tunnelling Titan.
This boss, in fact all of the boss battles, again feel very inspired by the old-school Zelda games, a balance of skill, timing and a little bit of fluke. My suggestion for every boss fight is to look at what is probably the weak points, and attack them!
When you finally beat Boris you also free your robot mate. It turns out it has a very helpful claw digger, which opens up the next dungeon. You will continue in this way, unlocking more features as you defeat bosses. Each one helps to move the story along and open up new dungeons. In time you advance on your journey to wipe out the evil Baron’s grip on Geodia!
One thing I enjoyed a lot was the replayability of each of the older dungeons once you’ve unlocked traits like the Claw Digger. There are a lot of extra exploration options for players who want to enjoy the full experience, and for those that want to power through the campaign ASAP you can happily do so. For me, I prefer taking my time and finding any hidden extras (the birdsong chorus, where you have to find all of the birds is a great albeit lengthy side quest!).
Sparklite is one of those games that can take you an hour or a year to complete! If you are a fan of the top-down action games of old, then you’re going to especially love this game! The joy of it as I said in my intro, is that it is clearly inspired by but not a gimmicky copy of the classic Zelda games. The narrative is well thought through, there’s plenty of personalisation and interesting unique characters to entertain you, and allow you to play the game how you prefer… just watch out for those pesky charging warthog things!!
Thanks to Merge Games for the review code