๐Ÿ’Ž⛏️⚔️ Sparklite | REVIEW | "Sparklite Me Up, Buttercup!" ๐Ÿ’Ž⛏️⚔️ #GameDev #IndieGames

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Sparklite is a charming top-down action-adventure that has flecks of Moonlighter, Zelda and others, Sparklite will definitely light up the eyes of players as they work their way through the steampunk world before them.
Set in the ever-shifting world of Geodia, Sparklite casts you in the role of an adventurer and her robot companion, Glitch as they strive to stop the evil Baron from over-mining the titular Sparklite. Sparklite acts as the lifeblood of the planet and, when harvested safely can result in energy and currency for all. The Baron, however, the little tinker that he is, intends to ruthlessly mine it and damn the consequences! What a sausage.
The core gameplay loop in Sparklite has you dropping down to Geodia from your floating, airborne village (suspended by a huge balloon, natch) and making as much progress as you can, entering dungeons, defeating bosses, killing enemies and finding secrets to collect that all-important Sparklite with which to upgrade not only your items and equipment but also the facilities available to you, which can make your journey much easier.

From extra hearts or defence to fully-revealed maps, each ‘patch’ that you add to your character takes up precious real-estate in your limited slots and so you need to choose your setup carefully to get the maximum potential out of what is available and what you intend to achieve in your current run. Upon your death, you are returned to the starting hub in your village and can spend the collected Sparklite before again heading down for more explorative action.

As in Moonlighter, there is an element of procedural generation but this is used in a positive way. Each ‘land’ of the world has the tiles shuffled and so the same dungeons, facilities and environmental/enemy hazards exist in each run but shifted around to make things a bit more exciting.
This really works in the game’s favour  as it means that the subtle mix-up in variety adds spice to your travels, the fact that there are secret caves and items buried in both earth and rock, requiring different tools or items to access means that the screens can be a lot richer in content than they initially appear. The five boss fights in the game that act as the end of each land are pattern-based and, whilst initially overwhelming are best approached with a sense of patience and timing.
Visually, Moonlighter is again a touchstone. I also got vibes of Golf Story and Secret of Mana, yes, 16-bit stylings are the way here complete with a soundtrack that rang to me of Shining Force, Monkey island (pipes galore) and, oddly…for a moment…Tears for Fears, it’s all really well-written and catchy stuff but I would have preferred some more variation as fully exploring each new section can take a few hours and more than one music track per run/area would have been appreciated, although this is a minor issue as the music that IS in the game is top quality.
I’m really enjoying Sparklite, the casual randomness and easy-going characters with its simple story were great to kick back with and play through for an hour or two at a time.
Death isn’t punishing and so you feel like you are always making progress, unlocking new, cool items and weaponry that not only assist in battle but can also be the difference in unlocking new areas to explore.

There are some issues, some of the one-use items can be impractical; with bombs, mines and power-ups requiring you to hold down L1 for a couple of seconds to use, the fact that they aren’t instant means that it’s very tough to find a use for them in combat, which is a shame and I found myself ignoring them with the exception of health packs. I also had a couple of audio/visual glitches but again, nothing deal-breaking.

Finally, there is a local co-op mode included in the vein of Super Mario Galaxy where one person can control your companion, due to the level of interaction this offers (minimal) it’s a nice inclusion but not something that I can imagine would get much use, this is most definitely a single-player title and a darn fine one!
Right, I’m off to make my fortune in Sparklite!

Ratings Explained
ICE COOL (Great Game Recommended)
MELTING (Recommended with reservations, one to consider if you are a fan of the genre)
MELTED (Not A Recommended Purchase)

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