GDC 2019 Hands-On IMPRESSIONS: Sparklite

Friday, March 29th, 2019

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Sparklite

Publisher(s): Merge Games (ID@Xbox title)
Platform(s): Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, PC
Release Date: September 2019
Website


Sparklite is one of those games that you can tell the developers grew up while playing and loving theĀ 1991/92 SNES classic, The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. Everything from the pixel art style to the action fighting RPG style and music is clearly used as a base inspiration for Sparklite to then blossom outĀ into its own in a procedurally-generated, rogue-like title.

Sparklite | Dig site

Sparklite | Fighting

You play as Ada in Sparklite, a RPG clearly inspired by 1990’s classic RPG titles such as The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. (Images courtesy of Merge Games).

The gameplay is deceptively simple: you play as Ada, an engineer whose airship goes down and crashes into a strange land. Ada then works to save the world from monsters who want to mine the precious Sparklite (see where the game’s title comes from?) to fuel war machines. However, Ada can also collect Sparklite herself as she fights enemies and kills them off. When Ada dies, which will happen, she is then whisked away to a flying city in the clouds. At that flying city, she can then use the Sparklite that she has collected in order to build new weapons, make herself stronger, give herself more health, and so on, before she returns back to the planet below to continue her quest. The thing with that, though, is that the game will randomly regenerate the entire terrain. So even though Ada is back and more powerful than ever before, she will not know where she is…only that she still has to complete her quest and of course, collect more Sparklite. Oh, and she has a gun that she can shoot enemies with when she isn’t melee attacking them.

Sparklite | Death

Sparklite | Cloud City

Death is a necessary mechanic in Sparklite. When Ada dies, she comes back to life in a city in the clouds. While there, she can spend her Sparklite to develop new weapons or buy character boosts for herself for when she goes back down to the world below. (Images courtesy of Merge Games).

While I fought enemies and subsequently a multi-legged boss in Sparklite, I found that the combat was ‘fair’ and clearly strategic. You can hit/shoot enemies, and if you memorize their attack patterns, then you can do it mostly unscathed. This ID@Xbox title also clearly leans heavily into the challenge that this type of gameplay presents. I died frequently, but the combat in Sparklite made me feel like I could win if I paid just a little bit more attention to what was going on and I remember what happened last time before I died. Death, in other words, never felt unfair and cheap but instead constituted a good learning experience and made eager to dive right back in. This is one of those cases where procedurally generated terrain really serves as an exploratory boon in making the world fun to go back into over and over again, despite Ada’s repeated deaths.

Sparklite | Boss

This is the boss that I attempted to fight at the dig site during my hands-on Sparklite demo. I lost repeatedly, but it came down to me just not knowing the timing of when to hit and when to dodge. And each time I died, I would come back stronger to fight again. (Image courtesy of Merge Games).

Sparklite is coming out in September 2019, and I am excited to see all that Ada can do when she has near-unlimited Sparklite at her disposal. Furthermore, Sparklite is clearly a labor of nostalgic love for the development team Red Blue Games, and one that I cannot wait to see come to full fruition.



Are you excited for Sparklite? Would you prefer to spend Sparklite on developing new weapons or on character boosts between deaths?

Let us know in the comments below!

About Quentin H.

Likes pina coladas and getting caught in the rain. And video games. Cannot forget those video games. Anime too. Should not forget that either.