Sparklite review - A new awakening

Red Blue Games is taking us back to the old-school action-adventure mashup, but is Sparklite more than just a nostalgia trip? Our review.

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The action/adventure genre has seen much evolution over the years. Franchises such as The Legend of Zelda and Tomb Raider have defined what we expect when jumping into a new game. With such a wide spectrum of what an action-adventure can be, there’s always plenty of room for innovation. Red Blue Games, the developers behind several mobile titles are looking to make the jump to the classic genre with Sparklite, an original 2D game set in a fantasy world.

Familiar territory

Our protagonist, Ada finds herself crash landed in the land of Geodia after her ship goes down in a storm. Shortly thereafter, she discovers the refuge, a floating colony of people who take her in as their own. Many of them with their own skill sets and purposes. Ada learns of the Baron, a villainous being with a plan to suck up large portions of sparklite, the life-blood of Geodia, and use it to fulfil his desires. The pollution produced from this mass mining of sparklite is destroying the environment and corrupting its inhabitants. Ada, with the help of some new allies, must take down the Baron and restore peace to Geodia. 

Sparklite’s story is serviceable. I didn’t hate any of it, but there wasn’t enough to leave a lasting impression on me. There’s obviously some commentary on the state of the world and how we treat our planet, but I’ve seen it many times over. Sparklite is a great game, but it’s story is far from my biggest takeaway.

A trip down memory lane

Red Blue Games describes Sparklite as “an inventive twist on classic action-adventures.” I whole-heartedly agree with this sentiment. Although it’s a brand new IP, Sparklite instantly feels familiar. Traveling Geodia and taking on monsters, crawling through caves, and discovering new items and weapons hits on all of the same notes as some of gaming's most beloved titles. However, Sparklite manages to inject enough of its own identity and personality to keep things from feeling like a rehash. For example, the use and integration of sparklite itself.

The fantasy land of Geodia is completely reliant on sparklite. This blue mineral works as currency, armor, and a power source. When building workshops and other facilities, you’ll need to pay with sparklite. The puzzles that block the path to new locations and treasure are powered by sparklite, and the material must be manipulated in order to solve them. Looking to power up or recharge a weapon? You guessed it, sparklite. Not only is sparklite the lifeblood of Geodia, but it’s also the central motif of the game itself. Operating as a narrative mcguffin, while opening the door to some interesting nuggets of lore. 

It’s dangerous to go alone

While adventuring through Geodia, you’ll use an assortment of gadgets to solve puzzles and take down foes. I noticed an interesting pattern when discovering new gadgets throughout my exploration. After entering a cave, there would be a brand new gadget sitting on a pedestal, straight up Indiana Jones style. Of course, I snatched it down and took it with me. The rest of the cave would feature a number of puzzles that would require the use of the newly acquired device. Upon making it to the final room, I had to place the gadget back onto a pedestal in order to exit, forced to leave it behind.

This perfectly captures how Red Blue Games expertly lays out Sparklites systems and mechanics. Allowing the player to take a new gadget for a spin without having to spend their hard earned sparklite is fair and convenient. Taking that a step further, the puzzles ensure that you’ve got a solid grip on how to control and use said device. In the end, you’re rewarded with the schematics, which you can take back to the refuge and use sparklite to construct. You’re now fully equipped to make an informed decision on which gadgets and facilities to prioritize, rather than blindly picking what sounds cool or seems useful. 

As for combat, there’s a number of ways to take down the different enemies you’ll encounter. They each have their own unique behaviors, rather that be charging at you like a bull, or giving you a good gonk on the head if you get too close. There’s different melee, ranged, and gadget attacks that are better suited for defeating different monsters. That being said, I noticed some odd difficulty spikes when getting into the big showdowns. The first boss specifically felt pretty unforgiving for how early on the encounter is. This didn’t frustrate me too much, as the death penalty in Sparklite isn’t too harsh. Still, an odd occurrence in a game with sensible enemy and combat mechanics.

In living color

One of Red Blue Games’ biggest successes with Sparklite is their ability to carve out a clear identity for their new intellectual property. This can be greatly attributed to the work done visually and artistically. The world of Geodia is beautiful and whimsical. From the lush plains and dense forests to the super industrial mineshafts and workshops, this world is bursting with personality. 

Sparklite sports a pixelated 2D art style, clearly taking inspiration from retro classics. That being said, Sparklites art style is hardly a thing of the past. Each character has a distinctly and detailed sprite, with fully animated movements. The monsters also have a diverse range of designs. From the menacing animal-like creatures wielding a sword and shield, to the peashooter plants, there’s a solid number of offerings in the enemy department.

Above the clouds

Sparklite is an impressive outing from mobile developer Red Blue Games. It’s visuals and core mechanics harken back to classic action-adventure titles. At the same time, cleverly designed and well defined systems provide for something fresh and exciting. All of this tied together by a gorgeous pixelated art style. Sparklite is a welcomed addition that honors what came before it, while setting out on its own path.


This review is based on a digital download code provided by the publisher. Sparklite is avaialable on Xbox One PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, and Steam for $24.99

Donovan is a young journalist from Maryland, who likes to game. His oldest gaming memory is playing Pajama Sam on his mom's desktop during weekends. Pokémon Emerald, Halo 2, and the original Star Wars Battlefront 2 were some of the most influential titles in awakening his love for video games. Donovan is currently studying broadcast journalism at Bowie State University with hopes to join the Shacknews team full time after graduation. He is a huge Star Wars nerd and film fanatic that will talk with you about movies and games all day. You can follow him on twitter @Donimals_

Review for
Sparklite
8
Pros
  • Clever gadget system
  • Beautiful locations and landscapes
  • Combat variety
Cons
  • Story leaves a bit to be desired
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