Sparklite (PS4, Switch, Xbox One, PC)

The land of Geodia is powered by Sparklite, but when an evil Baron starts mining it to keep all for himself, the land fights back with tremors that change the environment to hinder his mining.  But to stop the mining for good, a plucky young mechanic named Ada will save the day.  Armed with her shapeshifting wrench, she’ll use Sparklite to invent gadgets and gizmos to help her progress in this top-down Zelda style adventure.  It’s available to download on all current consoles and PC, but reviewed on PS4 here.

Ada can run around in all directions and swing her wrench like a sword to attack enemies, and when you hold the button down, she’ll charge up and her wrench will morph into a hammer for a powerful attack when you release the button.  Another button activates your rocket boots so you can dash over small holes.  You can also use gadgets like a crossbow or remote bombs, but you have to go a roundabout way to get them.  Along your adventure you will come across caves that let you try out these inventions.  And then when you come out of the cave, you don’t get to keep that gadget, but you can reverse engineer it back at your base, which is a flying island.

When you run out of energy while exploring the overworld, you’ll collapse and a grabber crane from the flying island will pick you up and take you back to rest.  On the flying island you can invent the gadgets you tried out in the overworld as well as buy widgets that are one time use items that you can take with you.  But all this costs Sparklite, which is kind of the currency in this game, too.  So to open up the workshop, you have to pay some money, then pay more to create a workbench where you can craft an item.  Then crafting the item costs Sparklite, too.  And if you want to make another invention, you have to start the process over again.  This made progression in the game for me a bit of a slog.  It also felt like having in-game purchases in the game, except with Sparklite instead of real money.

When you are ready to go back down to the overworld, the constant tremors will change the land so your map will be different each time.  You’re supposed to find caves with mining titans to defeat, but because of the randomly generated maps, the goals and objectives are very unclear.  Plus the learning curve is set a bit high with enemies that can take off two hearts with one hit.  Pretty tough when you only have four hearts total.  And when you do run out of energy, all the quests you’ve been working on are reset, except you do get to keep your Sparklite you’ve collected.  Me personally, I’d rather have one well-designed level map instead of a bunch of mediocre randomly generated ones.  Because of all this, I had a hard time really getting into the game.  I did like the top-down Zelda gameplay and 16-bit style graphics, though.  So if you like randomly generated games, you might enjoy this one more than I did.

Kid Factor:

Sparklite is rated E-10 with an ESRB descriptor of Fantasy Violence.  You can smack enemies with your wrench, hammer, or explosives, but they just disappear when defeated.  When you run out of energy, you just fall over and the floating island picks you up so you can start anew.  And that’s about as violent as it gets.  Reading skill is a must, and younger players may find the game too difficult.

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