What do you get what when you take puzzle elements from Zelda, rogue-lite elements, and a bizarre, unique storyline and put them all together? You get Sparklite, a quirky game with loads of charm, personality, and potential. With a storyline that’s engaging and unlike anything I’ve ever played before, I was drawn in from the very beginning and Sparklite didn’t let go. Challenging boss fights made playing Sparklite even more fun to play. The rogue-lite element was something that I was not expecting to enjoy but was pleasantly surprised.
In Sparklite, you play a character named Ada, a girl who is about to learn that she is the key to an important prophecy. Only she can save her home, Geodia. Geodia has a problem with what Sparklite calls “fractures.” Basically, they are earthquakes so severe that it literally shuffles around the map. These fractures are being caused by a big baddie named The Baron who along with his titans is trying to take control of the different stones in Geodia. If he succeeds, he’ll be very powerful. The titans are causing so much damage to the local environment that the world is literally fracturing.
I thought initially that like other rogue-lites, the map was being procedurally generated every time it changed but the longer I played, I realized that the map was literally just being shuffled. I wasn’t expecting to be able to recognize the different places that had shown up in previous runs, but I enjoyed it. The way the game gave me that level of predictability and the knowledge that I would eventually have an understanding of everything I would run into in a specific area, helped me not feel like I was lost every time I started a new run.
Sparklite is the currency in Geodia and the way that you beef up Ada during the game is to go down from an air-borne city and fight monsters, look for titans, and collect Sparklite. You can spend Sparklite upgrading your character through a medical facility, a device workshop, and a widget shop. I was so happy to have it be straightforward. Everything was based on a simple easy to understand leveling system. If there’s one thing I can’t stand it’s a skill tree. I’m happy to report that Sparklite chose not to go that route but instead gave you the ability to just spend your money on upgrades that make you better. The more I upgraded my city, the more options I had going down for a run. The more I upgraded my character, the stronger my attacks or ability to defend myself. I was simply more prepared for the challenges ahead.
The only problem the upgrade system created was a need for increasing difficulty in Geodia. Sparklite relies so heavily on its increasing difficulty to be fresh, that it misses the mark on enemy and level designs a bit. What I mean is that in the beginning of the game, I needed to kill enemies and keep fighting until I died in order to build up my Sparklite reserve. Later on the enemies were looking like copies of enemies I had seen in other parts of Geodia. What set them apart was that sometimes they were stronger and harder to kill even after character upgrades and sometimes they had special abilities.
For instance, one enemy shot at me from a planted position. In the first area, one hit was all it took to kill it. In the second area, it took 3 hits. By the last area, it took several hits and could freeze me. The result was that I was more inclined to stay in the starting area of each run to collect money where the enemies were easier and only go into the area where my next objective was when I was ready to. What this also meant was that I was skipping through those sections of the map and potentially missing a lot of the hidden gems the game had to offer. For instance, some buffs were hidden in chests that you might not see your first time through or even your fifth, but eventually in the starting area, I was fairly confident I had found everything. In the later areas, I was just interested in finding the titan and moving on.
There are five bosses in Sparklite. Each boss has their own unique weapons and fighting style. Each one has a different strategy needed to beat them. All of them are brutally difficult especially the first few times I fought them. They were the best part of Sparklite. Even late in the game when I didn’t care about going into their part of the map, I knew that finding them would provide a much needed challenge and refreshing change of pace. The bosses were in a cave guarded by monsters. Upon entering, I had only a few hearts to take down a titan with a big health bar. At first, the titans were impossible to beat because their attacks were incredibly strong and after just a few hits, I was dead. However, after a few runs, I was able to detect some patterns that helped avoid attacks while I took down the boss. Due to the challenging nature of these bosses, they were still hard and didn’t go down just because I had discovered the pattern.
Most refreshing for me is the simple fact that normally I do not like rouge-lite games. When I realized that I was playing a rogue-lite, I had no real expectations to enjoy it. How wonderful to get so addicted to it, that when I wasn’t playing it, I was thinking about the next time I would get to play it. It literally consumed all of my gaming for an entire 10 days. Where I normally play a variety of things throughout the week as to not get bored with one thing, even now my Switch is asleep ready to go straight back into Sparklite as soon as I turn it back on. Yes, it’s that good.
Visually, the presentation reminded me a lot of Stardew Valley or Undertale, which isn’t a bad thing. The soundtrack was fun without getting itself drilled into my brain. I won’t have this one stuck in my head. The best part about playing this game on the Switch was hand-held mode. Yes, I could have played this on my tv but this game was meant for hand-held mode. It was the perfect game for five minutes or five hours.
Sparklite is incredibly fun. From the story, to the unique rogue-lite game-play that kept me coming back for more, Sparklite captured my attention and maybe even my heart. If you're looking for a game right now that isn't Pokemon on the Switch, I can enthusiastically recommend Sparklite.
- A fun and bizarre story is a great hook to keep coming back.
- Challenging boss fights keep Sparklite from getting too monotonous.
- A great rogue-lite experience even if you’re not used to that style of gaming.
- Relies too heavily on the increasing difficulty to keep the game fresh.
- Enemy and level design often use models from earlier in the game.
- Sparklite is so good, 10 hours just isn’t enough.