Sparklite was developed by Red Blue Games and released on November 14, 2019 for the PC/Mac, PS4, Xbox, and Nintendo Switch for a MSRP of $34.99-24.99 depending on the platform.
I would liken it to a classic Legend of Zelda game mashed in with a little bit of Metroidvania with a sprinkling of Rogue-lite on the top for flavoring. It’s fun, it’s quirky, it looks and sounds great, and the controls feel tight. I recommend this game.
The game is light on story as it focuses mainly on exploration and action. You start off the game as Ada, the wrench wielding protagonist of the story, accompanied by faithful robot companion Wingnut. Your airship crashes on a mysterious land that is being corrupted and attacked by the industrious Baron. Along the way you meet charming side characters such as Hawkins, the gadget seller, Corwin the professor of beasts, Teddy the peaceful forest caretaker, Rocky the Rocket, Margo, and Pogo.
Margo & Pogo
There is a mini game where you have to find Margo and Pogo on the map without dying and they reward you with a map patch, which they claim they don’t know how to use. That explains why they get lost so frequently. You get charming moments like these once in a while that flesh out the story and characters a bit but they are light and infrequent. Another interesting but morbid tidbit of information is that the cute and adorable Beats in the game die if not found due to the pollution in the land. Yes, they die. This is lore. Moving on, the main narrative is told in segments after beating a boss, where the history of the land is revealed. The story is serviceable and not the main focus of the game. It does have a slight undertone of protecting the environment against industrialization which is a relevant topic to our society today.
This is where the game shines. It is definitely reminiscent of the classic Legend of Zelda series. You even cut grass!
You start off in a hub world, your base of operations where you can interact with NPCS, purchase upgrades, check a Bestiary, and select consumable items. The upgrade mechanic is pretty unique in this game and gives a fresh twist on the action RPG genre. Upgrading your character is done by adding on patches to your wrench multitool’s patchboard. The board is simply a two dimensional board and the size can be upgraded later on in the game with Sparklite, the game’s equivalent of rupees. The board is limited in size so you can’t place all the upgrades you find/purchase on it, making you decide on how to spec your character. You can focus on regular melee damage, modifying the charge attack with things such as reducing the move speed penalty, increasing the AOE of the charge attack, focus on your gadget damage, increasing either the available energy pool or increasing the rate at which you g et energy back, increasing health pool, or increasing your defense making you take lower damage. You can combine patches together from bronze, all the way to gold to increase their stats and also to take up less space on the patchboard. There’s an incredible amount of freedom in customizing your character based on your play style.
Speaking of customization, your basic attacks consist of a regular melee attack with your wrench, and a charge attack which turns the wrench into a hammer and slams down on the ground causing increased damage in an AOE. Along with the regular melee attacks are gadgets, which are unlocked by finding the blueprint in a vault on the map, one vault per area, and created with Sparklite from the tinkerer in the hub area. The gadgets include active weapons such as a Tesla cannon, remote control air bomb, and passive abilities such as being able to dive in deep water and shrink your size in order to travel through tubes ala Minish Cap. The active gadgets use energy and you recharge energy by hitting enemies with your basic attacks. This creates a rhythm of swapping between regular attacks and gadgets depending on your play style. Once equipped you are now ready to explore the over world.
You explore a pretty large map which are divided into 5 areas, the Vinelands, the Goldenwoods, the Acid Bog, the Shifting Sands, and the Titan Ridge. Each area is distinct with different enemies and tactics. Each area is generated randomly and each area may have a surprise. One such example was an area where you had to break the ice to find a diveable spot in the water which would lead to a chest. This was a pleasant surprise and creates a nice diversity in the game play and encourages exploration of the map.
Once you die, you are returned to the hub world. You lose any consumable items you found and the map is reset. You keep all the Sparklite you found though, as well as any gadget blueprints unlocked.
You can control your robot companion as well. You can do things such as dig up items in the ground, clean up goop which may reveal hidden items, and light up dark areas. You can play co-op and have someone else control the robot as well.
The controls are tight and feel responsive. You can do some advanced movement techniques by using the Dash move in certain situations as well as moving in one direction while attacking in another to kite certain enemies.
Graphics are quite lovely and charming. High quality pixel art that looks great in motion. The art has a charm to it.
Music is well made as well. A solid track that brings back memories of playing old school 2d adventure games, and going on a quests.