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Sparklite Preview: A Link to Roguelites

/ Oct 26th, 2018 No Comments

Sparklite Preview

The roguelite genre has become to indie games what open-world games once were for AAA developers. They have grown in popularity and ubiquity. Despite that, many people still find it hard to grasp the concept of roguelites. Sparklite aims to help people better understand the roguelite concept.

The game is described as an “accessible roguelite” that aims to make the genre easy for anyone to pick up. Saying that is one thing, but how do you achieve it? After playing the demo at PAX West, it is easy to see how North Carolina-based Red Blue Games plans to make good on that vision.

Legend of the Mines

Cataclysmic earthquakes have been shifting and disrupting the terrain, causing everything to change when one occurs. To make matters worse, gremlins have shown up eager to drain the land of its precious sparklite. The extraction of the magical sparklite are the machinations of a mysterious villain called the “Baron.” Ada, a genius engineer, is the one person bold and brave enough to traverse the ever-changing landscape to take a stand against the gremlins and the “Baron.”

The game channels the spirit and look of A Link to the Past to ensure that even if you don’t understand how roguelites work that you are keenly aware of how the gameplay works. While the gameplay feels familiar, it doesn’t feel derivative or simply a clone of The Legend of Zelda. What sets it apart (besides the rogueliteness of it all) is its speed.

Melee combat is easy to pick up. With a single button press you’re able to deliver fast and deadly melee strikes. What changes the feel of combat is Ada’s dash ability, which can help you avoid danger handily.

The speed and evasion comes at a price. Ada’s dash can only be used so much before the meter depletes and has to recharge. Making sure you’re mindful of how many dashes you have, especially in hectic combat, is the difference between continuing your run or having to start over.

The demo wasn’t simply a clean vertical slice of one level with a main objective. It gave a good sense of how the game’s procedurally-generated world will work and how satisfying or agonizing each run can be. Every time you hop back into the world, Ada discovers the land has changed. Sometimes it is only a minor tweak, but other times can be a radical shift.

Sparklite Preview

Ada’s goal is to find mines and clear out the gremlins inside them.

What makes doing a few runs exciting is seeing what new things show up. In one run, I stumbled upon a carnival where I could play a mini game in the hope of a big pay out. Coins are precious, but the allure of getting a huge boost was too hard to pass up. However, in the full game it is easy to see how the decision may be more difficult as losing may mean you can’t afford a vital upgrade.

Upgrades are a major part of what makes Sparklite so digestible to those new to the roguelite genre. The coins you collect in each run are cumulative. Whether you get 50 or two coins in a run, you’ll add to your total coins. That means even if you’re having trouble making headway, you’ll earn enough coins eventually to give you more of a competitive edge.

Ada’s upgrades can give her extra health, better combat prowess, new abilities and access to different weapons. These new abilities and weapons not only make you more formidable in battle, but also open up new areas to explore. The upgrade tree is pretty big, but coins alone won’t help you gain all the upgrades. That’s where finding precious minerals and materials comes in. These items unlock additional upgrade paths.

Sparklite Preview

The random nature means you’ll encounter interesting sights.

While finding odd occurrences in the world like that carnival are fun, the main goal for Ada is to reclaim dig sites. There are several different dig sites strewn across the land. In the demo, I came across one smaller one and one larger one.

The smaller dig site was basically a vertical dungeon where Ada fought through rooms of gremlins. Each room became progressively harder the deeper into the dig site she went. By besting the gremlins, Ada earned a precious material that unlocked her second tier of upgrades.

It was the larger dig site that proved more tantalizing. Unlike the smaller site, there were hazards immediately upon entering the site. It also required additional abilities and weapons to get into it. Due to time, I was unable to fully explore this dig sit, but I can’t say I wasn’t intrigued by it.

I found it hard to put down the Sparklite demo at PAX West. If I could, I would have played it for hours or until the demo stopped.

Sparklite comes out in fall 2019 for Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC.


Kalvin Martinez

Kalvin Martinez

Senior Editor at Gaming Illustrated
Kalvin Martinez studied Creative Writing at the University of California, Santa Cruz. He writes reviews, prose and filthy limericks. While he is Orange County born, he now resides in Portland, OR. He is still wondering what it would be like to work at a real police department. Follow Kalvin on Twitter @freepartysubs
Kalvin Martinez

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