If there’s one thing you can’t say about the Nintendo Switch’s ever increasing library of titles, is that it’s lacking variety, even in the download department. From endless runners, first person shooters, visual novels, RPGs, horror games; the system has just about got it all even though it’s less than a year old. Sparkle 2 EVO has arrived giving the system an evolution simulator. It’s not a new genre, having games like E.V.O on the SNES and Spore on PC, but it’s a genre we only get once in a while, and it’s impossible not to be intrigued by them.
Now, this review is coming from a guy who loves science about life, about animals, evolution, survival of the fittest and so on, so the chance to review Sparkle 2 got me rather excited.
You’ll begin the tutorial as a fresh new life form with the ocean ready to taken.The controls are fairly simple, you can move around your life form with the left analogue stick or, since this is a port of a mobile game, you can use your finger on the touch screen! Personally I prefer to stick to physical controls and I hate putting fingers on my lovely Switch screen!
Part of the gameplay has you diving into the void, adventuring into the ever increasingly dark depths of the sea to find bigger, badder, even more tasty things. This is done with either of the left shoulder buttons. You can also return to the previous layer with the right shoulder buttons. Each stage of the game only has a limited amount of layers though and I think that separating the game into levels kind of did it an injustice. I would have thought an open world structure would have suited this game much better.
As you’d expect, the game is about evolving and there are three different elements you can choose to affect which evolutionary form you take. Green ones make you more genteel and herbivorous, reds make a more aggressive hunter and the blue is a bit of a balance. You eat enough of them, you level up and grow, even obtaining an ability to use.
So far, so great, right? Well, it kind of falls apart in the first level. So there I was, my new little life form fresh and ready to be whatever I wanted it to be. I decided on an aggressive hunter, so naturally I had to go for the red nutrition as you would expect. I did so, collecting everyone in every layer, seemingly competing with one other species. It wasn’t long before an eyebrow was raised though. I was pretty confident I’d picked up every single red one in the level, avoiding any unnecessary genre pool toxic blue and greens. But nothing happened. So I searched around more, and more and more, but there were really no red ones left. In my confusion and haste, I’d accidentally ate some blue and greens and “levelled up” my hunting animal by devolving it into something else? I was confused and exited the level to try again. I ate all the red ones again, but guess what. Nothing happened. At this point I stopped caring and just ate everything I saw. Low and behold I got a pop up saying I’d “won”. What? I’d changed into something I didn’t want to be too!
How does that make sense from any gameplay perspective? It makes the whole point of the idea behind the game moot. Once you get to the second level, however, and realise what you have to do, the game is an absolute cakewalk and the realisation that everything you do has so little consequence sets in. It’s almost depressing. You make your way through each of the levels, hoovering up all the little nutrition until you have enough to go to the next one. That’s it.
Sure there’s a little excitement to see your life form become bigger and evolve, but that’s nothing to do with you. You’ll switch between the red, green and blue creature so frequently that it just shows the fallacy of the game. You’ll come across a variety of sea creatures who also increase in size and you will have to find ways to eat them. Sadly it’s just not compelling.
It’s not a game that will last you long either, just a few hours at most. Maybe you can argue that it’s a game more about being chilled out and relaxing to the music (and there is a mode specifically for that), but I don’t see how you wouldn’t get bored.
The one good thing Sparkle 2: Evo has going for it is its visual, of which are gorgeous. The bioluminescence of you, the creatures and the environments against the black background is incredibly eye-catching. The only issue I have is when you dive further down, the effects for that aren’t so great and does kind of standout. But aside from that, it’s a game that looks rather nice.
Overall, if it’s not obvious by now, I’m really disappointed in how Sparkle 2 turned out. The concept of evolution and choice is such a great one, but it’s completely squandered here by total lack of consequence or meaning. I know it’s just a port of a very cheap mobile game, but that still can’t excuse the disregarded potential. Sure, it’s an absolutely stunning game at times, but even that wears thin and all you’re left with is a very hollow experience. This is not one to recommend in my mind.
Game provided by Forever Entertainment