Sparklite is a very cool adventure game being developed by two brothers out of North Carolina, coming from Merge Games, a publisher known for their work on Dead Cells or Moonlighter. I got to spend 25 minutes or so wandering around in its world, and I adored everything I saw from it.
At the top, I was told that this is very much a vertical slice of things, so things may changed between now and next fall when it’ll be coming out, and some things and places were inaccessible to me there. All that being said, I was still really impressed with what I saw. You play Ada, a young girl who’s ship has crashed into the mainland from the sky, and she has to make her way back up to the sky village where everyone lives in this world. Ada is a genius engineer, and her main weapon of choice is a wrench, but beyond that her skill set is heavily focused around building new tools and growing her abilities through that genius, rather than only being limited to combat.
The gist is, these “Gremlin” creatures have taken over the overworld and are causing these distortions that change the world, shifting its plates around, but mechanically that manifests as changing the layout of each area you explore every time you come down to the overworld from your floating sky village.
What this creates is a loop of gameplay I ended up really liking. You start your adventure waking up from your crash and wondering until you’re hit once, and from there you die, or are knocked out, and are pulled up to your sky town by a giant crane. Here, getting your bearings, you are told hold the world changes constantly because of these violent earthquakes called disruptions, and you can journey down to the surface at your own risk over and over again. You can use your time on this station to use rare materials found on the surface to expand and develop the town. You can use them on your own personal workbench to expand a skill tree, allowing for big move upgrades like a charge attack that turns your wrench into a slamming hammer, or more passive things like increased health. Each minor upgrade costs more common materials called scrap, which are essentially coins distributed throughout the world.
The rarer materials can also be donated to the denizens of the town to create new shops and equipment given via those shopkeepers, like a place to create small guns for ranged attacks, or a reusable medkit as the only way of healing yourself on the ground. The village expanding as you put more tools into it and your repertoire of getting more skills as you dump points into your skill tree just feels really great. With how the world changes and evolves every time you go down to it, and dying being the only notable way I saw to come back to town, it has a loop almost like Rogue Legacy. You go explore, fight monsters, do mini games, get money, die, and then come back to spend it to expand your skills and equipment.
Only what’s different is the overworld and the vibe and feeling as you explore is straight adventure-like, putting it on more of a Link to the Past level. The top down action feels great and what’s more, the animation and sprite work is just phenomenal. The music is also wonderful, creating a really outstanding style across the board. Everything jumped out to me, and for a vertical slice it felt polished and ran wonderfully.
Its a synthesis of ideas that’s really excited, and while the dungeons were closed off to me, I saw instanced and randomly spawned areas like a chest mini game (full Link to the Past style), a room-by-room battle arena, and a challenge room of traversing a dangerous path without taking damage. It seems like there is a lot here, and while the economy here may be a bit concerning (a lot of rare materials were given to me in my brief time with the demo) it was still all very compelling. I wanted to settle into the loop here, just as much as I wanted to continue exploring the world.
All I know is Sparklite is coming fall of next year, or at least it’s targeting that. Hopefully we’ll be seeing more of it soon, but what I saw at PAX West was very much my jam.