Sparklite is a top-down action-adventure with roguelite features, and it comes with aspects that resemble those found in some of the early Zelda classics. In this new adventure from Red Blue Games, you must battle against the Baron's forces in Geodia, a lovely-looking pixel world filled with monsters.
Starting out on an airship, players take control of Ada. Doomed from the start, the airship is overrun by enemies, destroyed in a storm and eventually, Ada has to abandon ship. Once you've plummeted down to the ground below, it's time to roam the lands of Geodia. This is where the adventure truly begins, and after a short timed puzzle and an introductory battle, you face-off against the first boss. Things don't go too well but Ada is saved up by a giant claw and is taken to a floating camp in the sky, and this is where the fight against the Baron truly begins.
This is also where Sparklite finds its footing. Dropping into the bright, beautiful world that is Geodia you'll discover new monsters to battle, allies who will help assist you in your adventure, and a minigame that can earn the player some extra sparklite, the currency used in Geodia. Obtaining enough sparklite is no easy task and requires plenty of grinding through enemies and chests, although thankfully, enemies eventually respawn when returning from dungeons and other locations, so there's a fairly constant supply. Once enough sparklite is obtained, it can be spent on upgrades for your wrench, shop upgrades and patches that help Ada grow stronger.
Despite growing stronger, you'll still die a lot. However, with each death, players will drop all items collected in their supply bag, and these items are easily obtained during the next run. As well as this, each time the player travels back down to Geodia, a fracture will cause the map to change, and reshuffle the locations of bosses, mini-dungeons and enemy camps, which keeps things feeling fresh.
Ada has the ability to reverse-engineer gadgets into blueprints allowing her to unlock them for use later. To unlock these blueprints players will have to take on mini-dungeon type puzzles, similar to shrines in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, just on a smaller scale. Upon entering these buildings, the gadget will be available for pickup. After completing a few different puzzles and learning how to use these gadgets, Ada will then be able to take the blueprint back to camp and use sparklite to craft it.
The gameplay in Sparklite is engaging and enjoyable on the whole. The combat seems to resemble early Zelda games with the flowing motion of swinging a wrench. Enemies range in difficulty, some being taken down in one hit whereas others will require the use of Ada's dash to dodge incoming attacks before going back in to finish them off. Bosses bring in a new level of challenge and will require preparation; you'll need to choose the best patches, find the right items and use your arsenal of gadgets wisely if you're going to be able to take down each challenging opponent.
Sparklite is not without its issues, though. Using Ada's dash in boss battles is essential to winning but after each dash, Ada pauses for a moment; this slight pause is the difference between life and death at times, which can be frustrating. For some players, this may bring in a welcome added level of difficulty, but we found that it hindered us more than anything. Also, boss battles seemed to have drastic spikes in difficulty in comparison to the enemies fought in the lead up to these fights. This takes nothing away from the enjoyment of the game, however, be prepared to take on a boss multiple times before defeating them. You'll need to learn its move set, prepare patches, and use everything available to you if you're to overcome them.
All in all, Sparklite's blend of action and adventure delivers fun and enjoyment, with bright colourful world design and a soundtrack that is at times both calming and intense (depending on the location within the world). With lots to explore and many allies to be made, we found ourselves wanting more at the end of our adventure. What's more, Sparklite also delivers a fun co-op option, allowing the involvement of a secondary player to take control of Ada's trusty robot sidekick and assist in the world.
In the end, Sparklite managed to bring a nice mix of features to an ever-growing genre. The engaging combat kept us entertained throughout, and whilst the story isn't the main focal point, the small amounts of dialogue and AI interactions gave us just enough of a connection to the characters that we wanted to save them and defeat the evil force trying to destroy the world.
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