5 Reasons To Look Out For Upcoming Indie Adventure “Sparklite”
It’s not every day you pick up a brand new, accessible, lighthearted game that takes you straight back to the glory days of old school gaming, but now you may be able to do just that with Sparklite. Sparklite is an indie action-adventure game developed by Red Blue Games that’s set for launch on all platforms on November 14. I met with the developers to preview the game last month, and this week I’ve had the chance to explore even more of the game in a new exclusive, hands-on demo. After my extended time with Sparklite, I have a good handful of things to be excited about, and so should you! Here are five reasons you should be looking out for this beautiful, charming indie adventure.
It’s Chock Full of Retro Goodness
If you’ve heard or seen any coverage for Sparklite prior to this point whatsoever, I’m sure you’ve seen the comparisons drawn between Sparklite and The Legend of Zelda — and those correlations are pretty spot on. Sparklite has the look and feel of a classic Zelda game (think: A Link To The Past), with just a few twists added on. This is, in no way, a bad thing. Sparklite doesn’t feel like a rip-off so much as a brilliant, feel-good iteration, and while it provides challenges in gameplay and mechanics very similar to a Zelda game, it also has a level of lighthearted accessibility that both respects your time and makes it easy to pick up where you left off no matter when you take a break from the game. Sparklite has a gorgeous pixelated art style, and the difficult bosses are sure to remind you of games you played as a child as they take a lot of repetitive practice and physical skills to defeat.
Sparklite gives you a fair amount of freedom from the get-go, without virtually any hand-holding. You are free to explore the world however you choose so long as you are equipped to survive it, but don’t expect to see any quest markers, hints or directions. You can stumble upon NPCs in the world that will give you quests, but it’s totally up to you to find them and figure out how and where you will complete their objectives. They will, of course, give some clues in their dialogue, but these are only helpful to a degree. Sparklite invites you to explore and discover everything on your own. You will have to turn over rocks to see if there are secret passages underneath and keep track of where you’re going and where you’ve already been. If this is a concept that frustrates you, you will have a tough time progressing.
A Procedurally Generated World
The map in Sparklite is ever-changing. Every time you die you wake up back on your home base in a floating city, and when you descend to the world below you for more adventures the map will be different every time. There are a few different types of biomes that will always be there, but the order and layout in which they appear will change every single time along with the spread of monsters, chests and shrines. This does add a particular challenge to the game, especially because sometimes there are consequences you dying and fracturing the world such as having to relocate quest givers and restart their quests all over again if you died before completing them. It also, however, provides a cool sense of liberation: every time you die, it makes it easy to start and stop the game as you commit to each run one at a time and once you die, there’s no fear of being lost or confused when you pick up the game again the next day.
Fun Weapon and Upgrade System
The weapons and gadgets in Sparklite are smooth and fun to play around with. You begin the game equipped solely with a giant wrench, and you can perform both simple light attacks and heavier, charged attacks. As you explore the world you will discover shrines, which give you a weapon to temporarily solve puzzles with upon entering. Once you beat the shrine, you learn the blueprint for that weapon and can build it yourself at your home base. Not only can you build weapons at your home base, but you can also upgrade your character’s health, energy and abilities by purchasing and assigning different “patches.” I enjoyed the simplicity and freedom of this weapon and upgrade system because it doesn’t cut you off or limit you at the beginning. If you want to keep gathering Sparklite (also the name of the currency used in-game), returning to your home base and purchasing as many different perks as you can before going in to defeat the first boss, you may. While the game may seem punishing with its roguelike death system, you at least always keep the currency you gathered and it opens up the possibility to make purchases and upgrades before going down again.
You Can Play with a Buddy
I find myself constantly on the hunt for games with campaigns I can play all the way through with a buddy, and Sparklite actually offers that to the table. Once you defeat the first boss, you can unlock local, assistive co-op where one player controls Ada (the main character) and the other controls her trusty robot friend. Given the open-ended and roguelike nature of the game, the draw of having a helpful partner is strong and the fact that Sparklite offers co-op throughout its campaign is a huge selling point.
Sparklite launches on November 14 for PC, PS4, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch.