Sparklite is an isometric action-adventure rogue-lite developed by Red Blue Games. Previously a mobile developer, this is Red Blue’s first effort on consoles. As such, Sparklite does have some elements that make it feel like a mobile game at times, but I’ll talk more about that later.
I come away from Sparklite with conflicted feelings. The responsive combat and competent upgrade system make for a fun time, but it’s held back by some grindy mechanics that feel out of place in this Zelda–inspired title.
The Fractured World of Geodia
Sparklite begins with our protagonist and amateur mechanic Ada crash landing on the world of Geodia. After being allowed to explore for a bit, we encounter a boss fight that Ada has little hope of defeating with her current tools. After your likely demise at the hands of your enemy, Ada awakens in the game’s hub world and we learn what that whole ordeal was all about. It turns out Geodia is being exploited by resident bad guy ‘The Baron’, for personal gain. That thing we just encountered was one of his servants, and with the help of the nice folks on our new hub world, we might just have a chance at taking it down.
This is when we get into the meat of the game, and we’re introduced to various mechanics that make up Sparklite’s gameplay. For now, I want to talk about the plot and worldbuilding of Sparklite, so we’ll get into the guts of the gameplay later.
Sparklite’s story isn’t really anything special, but it manages to sell its world through visual storytelling. Each area you visit tells its own story, be it a desert full of goblins or a swamp full of venomous insects. As you find ancient vaults you learn more about how Geodia was formed, and surprise surprise: Ada is the hero destined to save it. This ham-fisted attempt at telling a generic fantasy storyline feels unnecessary, as each area tells its own story well enough on its own. The aforementioned desert area is very open, and only has walls on the edges of the map. Each room is connected, so it really feels like an open space. It makes sense that the goblins are here too, as this is the harsh environment that the Baron has recruited them from. It’s little details like this that tell Sparklite’s narrative, accompanied by a pretty catchy soundtrack.
Wait, Wasn’t I Here Before?
Sparklite’s bouncy flora and fauna match well with the upbeat music and colorful particle effects, I just wish that the art direction had a little bit more personality. Sure it’s cutesy and vibrant at times, but it’s not memorable due to its large similarity to plenty of other indie titles of recent times. Years down the line I think if you showed me a picture of Sparklite, I would have trouble differentiating it from other Zelda inspired indies of its time. I don’t find Sparklite to be an ugly game by any stretch, I just don’t find its cutesy style interesting and I’ve seen it far too many times to be wowed by it now.