Redefining the Classic Adventure Game with Sparklite at GDC

Sparklite at GDC
credit// Merge Games

Red Blue Games' Sparklite is a brawler-adventure with procedural world generation, but its classic influences are pretty obvious even at first glance. The game's rogue-like level map generation, and sardonic humor set it apart as a fully modern invention, but the top-down isometric view, world-building, and art style are clearly reminiscent of early Nintendo classics, particularly the Zelda franchise. Except this time, Sparklite is the currency of choice, and you can use various guns and gadgets as your weapons.

The official description reads:

Everything in the world is tied together by Sparklite… it's the life force of the planet, and the inhabitants have learned how to channel it for their own gain. It can be harnessed, or it can be consumed for a surge of power with grave consequences.

The Baron has devised a plot to mine the world's Sparklite core. He mines Sparklite and burns/consumes it to fuel his powerful war machines, but the pollution from the consumed Sparklite is corrupting the world. Animals have turned to violent monsters, and the environment is rotting away. But the world has a natural defense in its Sparklite core. Periodically, the core causes a Disruption which rearranges the world, setting back the Baron's efforts. If the Baron can obtain the core, he will gain the power to create a new world where he has ultimate power.

Sparklite at GDC
credit// Merge Games

The gameplay for Sparklite is as simple, but challenging, as a top-down adventure game can be. Control inputs are single button, and there aren't any sophisticated combo systems, but the enemies are still tough enough to kill you if you aren't careful.

You also have the ability to build up your hub city, which allows you to unlock new gadgets and weapon upgrades to make the various levels easier to complete.

All told, Sparklite manages to be nostalgic without being stifled by outdated gameplay conventions, which is something rather singular as far as retro-inspired games go. It also helps that the protagonist Ada is as reluctant to take part in the adventure as she is, because the humor created by that dichotomy is particularly charming.

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Madeline RicchiutoAbout Madeline Ricchiuto

Madeline Ricchiuto is a gamer, comics enthusiast, bad horror movie connoisseur, writer and generally sarcastic human. She also really likes cats and is now Head Games Writer at Bleeding Cool.
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