HandsOn Sparklite Is a Fun ZeldaInspired Roguelike

HandsOn Sparklite Is a Fun ZeldaInspired Roguelike

first_img If you’ve read my work here on Geek.com or seen some of my tweets then you’ll know I’m not exactly a fan of roguelikes. I made this abundantly clear in my review of Rad. As I said in that write-up, though I don’t care for the genre, I’m always willing to try out new games to see if one clicks with me. I’m here to tell you that I have found this mythical roguelike with Sparklite. This title is the very definition of a surprise and one which I hope sets a new precedent for roguelikes.Though a roguelike at its core, Sparklite takes strong inspiration from The Legend of Zelda series. Specifically, games like A Link to the Past, The Minish Cap, and Link’s Awakening. Its top-down camera angle, screen transitions, map design, and pixel art hearken back to those classic Zelda titles. Of course, the big difference here is that Sparklite features randomly-generated maps and its own take on permadeath. These disperate elements serve to create a unique and satisfying experience.Sparklite stars a protagonist named Ada, who uses tools and gadgets to explore her strange world. Persistent earthquakes cause the land’s geography to constantly shift. This plot element is a genius way to explain the randomly-generated maps. Though the land changes, the one constant in this world is the sparklite element. With this, citizens power their floating cities and machinery. However, dangerous monsters, both great and small, stalk the land in search of the very sparklite Ada seeks.Core combat consists of melee attacks. In the demo I played, Ada used an upgradeable wrench to dispatch foes with a series of quick slashes. What spices up combat is the ability to dash. Some of the foes I faced, particularly the bosses, forced me to keep a steady finger over the dash button in case I had to make a quick escape. Considering how you’re thrown back into the main hub when you lose health, you’ll want to use dash to avoid any and all attacks if possible.Permadeath is a key feature of roguelikes. While Sparklite has a form of permadeath, it isn’t as punishing as it is in other titles. When enemies render Ada unconscious, she returns to the game’s hub world. You lose all progress with regard to missions. For example, if you found a quest item, you will lose it upon death and need to retrieve it again. What makes permadeath tolerable is that Ada remains as your main character and she gets to keep any and all collected sparklite. This is important since it prevents players from feeling frustrated over losing their progress upon death.The other key element that makes Sparklite digestible is the ability to upgrade. During my demo, I farmed to get 100 sparklite in order to upgrade my wrench’s attack. I died several times in the attempt but I rested assured knowing I’d always leave with some sparklite on every run. My persistence paid off when I eventually had enough sparklite to procure the desired upgrade. This encouraged me to brave the wilds instead of giving up in frustration.The randomly-generated maps I explored contained the same basic elements in different configurations. What I found interesting is how some maps seemed nearly identical to each other while others were wildly different. Since the land always changes, it is easy to lose one’s way. Thankfully, the in-game map always displays your objectives. This is a great feature that prevents players from wasting time wandering around looking for things to do.During my travels, I ran into a number of NPCs that gave me side quests. These quests are also randomly generated. For example, during one run, I found a boy seeking his lost sister. He tasked me with giving her half of a medallion. I died during the middle of the quest, thereby canceling it. On another run, I found the sister who gave me her half of the medallion. During this instance, I managed to find her brother and complete the quest. This approach to quests (like most of Sparklite) keeps subsequent runs feeling fresh.Along with weapons and health, you can upgrade your home base and turn it into a functioning society. After completing quests for NPCs, they’ll join your base and set up a workshop where you can purchase upgrades and equipment. This incentivizes players to scour each of the different maps looking for these useful characters. I didn’t get a full taste of this base building-ish aspect, but I can see myself becoming obsessed with finding every NPC I can. After all, every upgrade helps you survive the harsh world and shops are the only way to make that happen.The big highlight for me was the one boss battle I experienced. Taking place within a dark dungeon, I battled a giant mechanical foe whose main weapon was a ball and chain. Dodging the oncoming ball proved challenging but I managed to do so by studying the boss’ movements. The biggest challenge came when the ball began to suck in air. The trick to avoiding the powerful vacuum was to run instead of pressing dash. I didn’t get to defeat the boss, though I came close. The battle proved exhilarating and I can’t wait to see how inventive the other boss battles get.Sparklite is pure eye candy. Its bright, vibrant graphics recall the glory days of the 16-bit eras. Animations are buttery smooth and it’s easy to read enemy movements. Despite the random nature of maps, each has a life of its own. I mostly played within a forest, but the game also has other environments to explore. Even in an industry overflowing with “pixel art” games, Sparklite stands out with its distinctive and inviting graphics.Sparklite is the one roguelike I actually, well, like. Though I did enjoy Skyhill, Sparklite is more up my alley because of its overt nods to the 16-bit eras. It proudly wears its Zelda inspiration on its sleeves. Combat feels tight and responsive, while the randomly-generated maps keep players on their toes. The fact that you’re always making some kind of progress is what helps raise Sparklite above other roguelikes. I had a blast playing the demo and eagerly await the finished product. Sparklite is a winner in my book.Sparklite will release later in 2019. Pre-order it on Amazon.More on Geek.com:Hands-On: ‘Ghost Recon: Breakpoint’ Has Something for EverybodyReview: ‘Gears 5’ Brings a Fresh Perspective to the Franchise‘Oninaki’ Is an Interesting Game Marred by Poor Design Choices Sorry, You Can’t Date Keanu Reeves in ‘Cyberpunk 2077”Star Wars Pinball’ Has Your Favorite Brand in Ball Form Stay on targetlast_img

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