Wednesday, 27 November 2019

Asylum Reviews: Sparklite [Xbox One].

Red Blue Games' Sparklite is a fantastic Legend of Zelda style roguelite, with a beautiful world filled with adventure. You play as Ada, a young hero who, after her airship is destroyed, must set out to save the Sparklite and rebuild atop a floating city hub.

The tutorial explains the basics of the game and through talking to NPCs you will learn how various mechanics work such as where you restart from after dying. You are plucked from the ground upon death (by a giant claw no less) and brought back to the hub world in the sky. Here you can use any Sparklite you've already collected to build shops to unlock Widgets and Inventions which will massively help you on your way.

The procedurally generated world does wonders to keep things from feeling too stale and keeps you coming back for more. It feels like an older Zelda game with its simple mechanics and puzzles, and adorable art style. Controls are fairly easy to pick up, with you having a main weapon attack - that can be charged up for more power - as well as gadgets, known as Widgets, that can be assigned to help you progress through the game.

Throughout Geodia you will come across small dungeons known as Vaults. In these vaults, you will be taught how to utilise new weapons or equipment to work your way through the challenges, ultimately gaining the blueprint for the weapon at the end. In order to gain access to this item, you must then return to the floating hub and provide the blueprint to the Workshop. First tip of the day should definitely be to unlock the Workshop as soon as you can. I made the mistake of unlocking the Widget shop first, holding me back from accessing the newer weapons I'd found.

Due to the randomised nature of Sparklite, many areas you come across will be seemingly impossible to get through. You might be stressed out trying to figure out a puzzle only to discover you are actually missing a key weapon or piece of equipment that will allow you to progress, I know I certainly was. Just keep in mind that many items will come later and that you can backtrack through these areas once they become achievable, and you'll feel far more enjoyment from the game.

You have limited capacity for all of the weapons and widgets you own, so you need to think wisely when figuring out what is the best loadout for you. Your inventory is made up of small squares, and items can either fit neatly into one tile - typically the simpler items - or they can sprawl across multiple and require careful planning to maximise the space you have.

As mentioned before, the art style is adorable. Colours are bright and environments are detailed and interesting. Sadly, the story is fairly basic and doesn't draw you in terribly much, however the addictive nature of playing run after run of this, much like other roguelites, helps to negate this. The sound design is well matched to the gameplay, with delightful tunes composed by Dale North. These too are reminiscent of early Zelda titles, and are really a pleasure to listen to.

Lastly, Sparklite includes local co-op. All I can say of the co-op is don't bother. Only playable once you've played into the game a little bit, the second player takes control of Ada's robot sidekick. As player two, you have limited capabilities - digging at first, with the option of add-ons later. It does get better with further patches, such as the ability to then pick up items, but even at that you are still very restricted. Stick with the single player - trust us. Playing single player, we had a decent bit of fun for what the game entails, and at £19.99 it's reasonably priced for what it is.

In the end, we decided to give Sparklite the Collecting Asylum rating of 6.5/10.

Have you played Sparklite yet? What did you think of it?
Let us know in the comments below!

- V x

Thanks to EvolvePR for the Sparklite Xbox One review code!

Tuesday, 12 November 2019

Asylum Reviews: Lonely Mountains: Downhill [Xbox One].

Lonely Mountains Downhill is a delightful simple looking game from its exterior, but sneaks up on you with its challenging core. You play as a nameless (and faceless, might I add) character whose one true goal is to tackle all of these mountains and their exciting, twisted trails. 

Each level has a few different difficulties, and different challenges that go along with those. This can be something as (seemingly) simple as completing the track under a certain time, or with fewer than x amount of crashes. Sometimes these can seem quite easy, but instead prove to be a little more difficult once you factor in the stress of some areas on the tracks that are trickier than others.

As well as the main track, there are a vast selection of off-the-beaten-path type routes to the finish line. Some which can simply shave a few seconds off here and there, while others can drastically reduce your overall time. Half of the fun of Lonely Mountains: Downhill is finding these alternative routes and doing everything you can to not only survive (since they're generally harder than the main track) but to perfect them, and get your time - and number of restarts - as low as possible.

There are good customisation options, allowing you to alter the look of your rider as well as your bike. You can change between male and female, different hair style and colour options and tweak the skin tone to how you wish. New costumes and bike parts can be unlocked by satisfying the conditions of various challenges laid out for you.

Visually, the game is gorgeous and has a very pleasing aesthetic. Locations are beautifully crafted and the lighting just adds another layer to the look. Sound design is fantastic also, with really catchy tunes to go along with your peaceful journey. The controls felt great for the most part, with only a few minor gripes where turns felt less responsive than they should, but this didn't make the game feel unplayable at all.

In the end, we really enjoyed Lonely Mountains: Downhill and have decided to give it the Collecting Asylum rating of 8.5/10

What did you think of it?
Let us know in the comments below!

- V x

Thanks to Thunderful Games for the Lonely Mountains: Downhill Xbox One review code!

Asylum Reviews: Party Hard 2 [Xbox One].

After really enjoying the first Party Hard, I was desperate for more. And when PH2 was released in 2018 I was so excited, but it wasn’t...