Sparklite is a beautiful rogue-lite adventure game bursting with character and full of charm. You play as a young girl named Ada, accompanied by your loyal robot companion, Wingnut.
The game starts as your ship crash-lands on a mysterious land called Geodia; a dangerous place full of monsters where the land is constantly changing due to the world fracturing. When you inevitably lose all your health, you’re scooped up into the sky to a place called the Refuge. Every time you go back to Geodia to explore, the world’s layout changes slightly due to the fractures, so it’s never quite the same.
There are five different areas in Geodia to explore, ranging from an acidic swamp zone, to a vibrant autumnal woodland. You start in the Vinelands, and can’t progress to the next area until beating the boss. This stays the same throughout; every time you beat a boss, you earn a new tool that will allow you to gain access to the other areas.
Each area contains a boss battle, various hidden secrets, mini dungeons, and a Vault, which houses a new tool for Ada to use. If you complete the mini puzzle in the Vault, you receive the blueprint to make the tool for yourself back in the Refuge.
The Refuge acts as the hub-world; as you progress in the game, more characters appear for you to talk to, and some of them have their own facilities for you to invest in, that’ll give Ada different perks, weapons, or items. How do you do this? Sparklite!
Sparklite is, in simple terms, the currency in this game; you collect it when exploring Geodia (not in the Refuge), mainly through defeating monsters. Generally, the harder the monster is to defeat, the more Sparklite you get. You can also find it in chests and trees, and various other ways as you gain access to more tools.
Your progression in the game basically all relies on collecting Sparklite. Building or upgrading a facility? Sparklite. Making a tool? Sparklite. Upgrading your stats? Sparklite. Hotel? Trivago. Makes you wonder where they got the name of the game from really.
At first, this felt a little tedious, as in Ada’s base form, she might only last two hits from an enemy before getting knocked out and sent back to the Refuge. Even though you keep all the Sparklite you collected when you’re sent back, it felt frustrating that barely any progress was being made, and it was basically just a grind-fest to gather as much as you could before having to do it all again. However, it didn’t take long before it started to feel like much more than that.
Once I made it past the first boss and got a taste of the game’s story, everything just started falling into place. By that point, I’d gathered enough Sparklite that I could give Ada some significant upgrades on her patch board; a panel full of slots that you place tiles onto, which provide different buffs. It also felt like there was a purpose to collecting all the Sparklite, as it previously felt like you were collecting it for the sake of collecting more. Having a reason to improve and something to strive for made everything just feel a lot more worth it.
One brilliant thing about how the upgrades work in this game is that it allows you to pick your own difficulty; you can add and remove upgrades from the patch board as you please. Want to go back to having your base amount of three hearts? Go ahead! Equally, you can almost infinitely grind out upgrades if you’re really struggling, so the game can be as hard or easy as you want it to be.
It also needs to be said how cute the style of the game is; the pixel art style is reminiscent of previous 2D Zelda games, and the colours are absolutely gorgeous. The music is also beautiful to boot; the soundtrack is full of relaxing and atmospheric tunes to accompany your adventure.
Overall, Sparklite is a brilliant little game that’s definitely worth trying out. Even if rogue-lites aren’t really your thing, the difficulty options make it very accessible regardless of your skill level. Full of fun characters and oh-so-satisfying secrets to discover; you’ll be hooked for hours.