Sparklite Preview – A Bright Take on the Roguelike Genre

At the [email protected] event during GDC 2019, we had a chance to play Red Blue Games and Merge Games’ upcoming Legend of Zelda-esque roguelike Sparklite. Even with our short time with the game, we can already say that it shines bright like a diamond. This is mainly due to the fact that it’s the most approachable roguelike that we’ve played in a long time, to the point that any player, of any skill level, will enjoy embarking on plenty of adventures within the game. 

Sparklite has players take on the role of Ada, a genius engineer who uses gadgets like wrenches, hammers, and guns, along with gizmos — rather than the typical sword and shield combo found in most roguelikes. Unfortunately for Ada, however, her airship has crash landed, and she gets stranded in a strange new land thrown into turmoil by gremlins. It’s then up to Ada to not only find parts to repair her ship, but to also help save the world from invaders that have been extracting the last of its life-blood, known as Sparklite. With Ada’s mission all set, the player then begins an epic adventure.

Sparklite 2

Right at the start of my time with Sparklite, I could tell that it’s clearly inspired by classic Legend of Zelda games — and the developers confirmed with me that it was one of the many inspirations for their game. Similar to that of old-school Legend of Zelda games, combat is pretty straightforward in Sparklite — consisting of mostly smacking or shooting enemies down and quickly dodging attacks. With that said, it’s very fluid, tight, and responsive, so any player will be able to get a hang of it rather quickly.

While combat may lean more on the simpler side of things, Sparklite‘s overworld and underworld are massive and have tons of paths to explore, items and resources to gather, and a slew of enemies to fight along the way. Defeating enemies is a necessity in Sparklite as doing so grants the player currency that can be used to upgrade stats or buy new gadgets. Remember how I mentioned that combat was easy to learn? Well, fights in the game are actually pretty challenging. For the build I played, the enemy AI was impressive and definitely kept me on my toes — especially when I fought against a massive lumberjack robot boss with spinning saw blades that sliced away at me and heavy log legs that smashed me down with ease. 

Sparklite 5

Needless to say, death is inevitable in Sparklite, but isn’t all that bad. Yes, death does result in players having to go back to the game’s main hub space, which is Ada’s airship. However, thankfully, players don’t lose everything in their possession after, just some items here and there, so it’s easy to just die, get a chance to get stronger, and try again in Sparklite.

On the flip side, death does make one major change in the game. Every time the player die, the world’s layout changes slightly as earthquakes caused by over-mining shift the landscape. This causes the player’s objective location to change a little. While this sounds like it’d get annoying after a while, I found myself not really minding it all that much, especially because of the game’s handy dandy map. Also, the mechanic causes players to not have to explore the same areas over and over again, which is a nice change of a pace.

Sparklite 4

Visually, Sparklite is without a doubt one beautifully crafted game. The pixel art is intricately detailed, and the game’s colorful, steampunk vibe is glorious.

I only had a chance to briefly play Sparklite, but I can honestly say that it shines in more ways than one. From its beautifully detailed pixel art style to its vast and unique overworld and underworld, we’re excited to play even more of Sparklite, which is set to release this fall on PC, Mac, Switch, PS4 and Xbox One.

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Brad Crespo

Editor-in-Chief - On a quest to play as many new games as possible while trying to finish an endless backlog.