Rogue-lites and I have a love-hate relationship. I want to get into them; I like the idea of randomly generated worlds to keep the levels fresh, and appreciate the simplicity that focuses on core gameplay mechanics over flashy gimmicks. I keep trying them periodically, but I never click with them over the long haul. Sparklite is a game that tries to remedy this by including a story and making its gameplay more accessible without watering down the core ideas. Did I finally find the perfect rogue-lite for me?
Sparklite’s story starts with Ada crashing her ship into Geodia and trying to free her floating robot companion Wingnut from a robotic boss. You’ll take on a new boss in each new biome over deserts, ice, woods, swamps, and a jungle area. Each boss and area coordinate to tell a story about a world being polluted and dominated by a nasty character called The Baron.
Sparklite refers to the magical mineral found by defeating monsters, and in chests and plants. It acts as a currency when you are in The Refuge, a floating base filled with people who are resisting the Baron. You can free some of them as you play, and you can pay to improve their shops and make purchases to help you improve.
The improvements are where you can tailor some of the gameplay. They come in the form of blocks that will increase the number of hearts you have, increase the damage with your wrench, and increase the power of your gadgets and energy meter. By adding and combining these on a grid accessible in The Refuge, you can also increase or somewhat decrease your difficulty as well. You’ll have to make some choices about what you want most. There is a limited amount of space, so you may not be able to fit an automatic map of the Vinelands area or another defense block.
Each area is taken in turn and unlocked after you beat the previous area’s boss. You’ll explore a map to remove the fog of war effect and collect Sparklite, and dying randomly generates a new map. Beyond killing individual creatures, you’ll find underground areas to explore with little puzzles to solve, a forge with multiple floors to clear out for a reward, and the boss. You can open a new area and immediately fight the boss, but it will probably fail. You will need to go through the levels multiple times to gather Sparklite to find or buy upgrades and find new weapons and devices to build.
This loop is repeated over every new area. Some of the enemies are harder versions with a new skin, but there are enough new creatures to keep things fresh. The challenge level raises too, but people who want something harder can always tweak their upgrades. For the most part, the difficulty is fair. There are a few places where you can’t see your character if they are standing behind an enemy and swinging your wrench isn’t hitting when you were making contact for the last two swings, but it’s usually very good.
As per rogue-lite law, the art is pixelated, and it looks really good. There are little particles from the explosions, and animations and designs are nice. The music sounds nice too. The overall presentation is very good.
On the technical side, there are some minor issues. I would recommend playing after you download the patch. The game isn’t buggy, but it fixes 99% of the problems. There is still an issue with some enemies jumping off the screen that forced me to restart, but it happens infrequently.
For people like me who want to love or just not hate rogue-lites, I would recommend Sparklite. It gives you everything you need to ease you into the experience and allows you to tailor the difficulty if you are a seasoned pro. Dying allows you to keep the Sparklite you collected with only the loss of your items. Running back through the randomly generated levels is not a punishment, and you can take on the boss at any time. All of this is wrapped in a story and a good presentation. If you are new to rogue-lites or just want a new one, Sparklite doesn’t create a new formula, but its mix of rogue-lite elements makes it a good choice.
Sparklite PS4 Review
Overall - Very Good - 7/10
Sparklite may be the rogue-lite that pleases genre fans and newcomers alike. It has a nice little world to explore and offers you plenty of upgrades. There is the occasional bug, but the charm, gameplay, accessibility, and story kept me jumping into the world again and again.
- Rogue-lite that can be played as hardcore as you like (or don’t like)
- Good art and music
- Includes an actual story
- Occasional bug
- Sometimes hard to see character
Review Disclaimer: This review was carried out using a copy of the game provided by the publisher. For more information, please read our Review Policy.
Reviewed using PS4 Pro.
Jason became terminally addicted to videogames after receiving the NES at an early age. This addiction grew to include PC gaming and was cemented with the launch of the PS2. From then on, he was afflicted with epic RPGs, tense shooters, and deep strategy games, never becoming skillful, but never able to quit. He continues to play games (poorly) and share his passion for them to anyone willing to listen.