A rogue adventure

A lot of developers have tried to capture the magic that is the Zelda series for years. Now, with so many games dropping on a weekly basis, there is even a subset of games that are mixing its formula with rogue-like elements. Sparklite is in fact one of these games, and it doesn’t shy away from its influences. From the structure of the game to its “inspired” characters, it feels like it wants to borrow from Nintendo’s offering in a whole host of ways. It succeeds in some areas while falling short in others, much like every other game that takes a stab at the genre.

The setup is simple: players have a hub in the form of an airship. In between runs they use collected currency to upgrade stats and weapons. There are a set number of dungeons, each with their own unique item that is used to progress. The world of Geodia is colorful and familiar. Players assume the role of Ada as they attempt to collect the currency aptly titled Sparklite.

MSRP: $24.99
Platforms: XB1 (reviewed), PS4, Switch, PC
Price I’d Pay: $19.99

What I like about the game is its no-nonsense approach. Runs are straightforward and each one teaches the player about the systems in play. It never veers off the formula very much, making repeating areas not as frustrating or tedious as other games like it. The combat feels good. Hits land with a satisfying blow and the enemies all telegraph their moves to help players learn how to deal with them. It borrows the polish from the games it’s inspired by in the best possible ways.

While this is a run-based game, it does have progression. The starting area is always the same, but certain areas are not accessible until the boss of a previous one has been defeated. This gives a sense of linearity to the game similar to Children of Morta. It is nice to have a game of this type with more structure in its story. It is weird to see games based on runs to be slowly evolving back into standard game types, almost as if the genre was starting to wear out its welcome. Sparklite would have benefited more from leaning into this as opposed to focusing on run-based game play.

This is in fact Sparklite’s biggest flaw. It feels like the developers wanted the checkbox in the marketing that it was a rogue-like game. The function never makes the experience better. Each dungeon and boss is well-crafted and backtracking through the starting area each time becomes a chore as the game comes to a close. I found myself dreading these parts of the game more than anything else. If it had been a simple linear adventure it would have felt so much more satisfying.

In the end Sparklite feels like a game that could have been great, but ended up just being good. It leaned too heavily into shoehorning in mechanics that did not need to be there. With a little more focus and some expansion on its ideas it could have been something special. As it stands it is yet another pixelated indie game that I will enjoy experiencing, but be hard pressed to remember.

Review copy of game provided by publisher.

  • Combat feels good
  • Great art style
  • Rogue elements do not compliment design
Written by
Ken is the Editor-in-Chief of this hole in the wall and he loves to troll for the fun of it. He also enjoys long walks through Arkham Asylum and the cool air of Shadow Moses Island. His turn-ons include Mortal Kombat, Metal Gear Solid and StarCraft.