Posted by Evolve on Sep 4, 2018 | In: General News
Action RPGs are one of the most user-friendly variants of the long-running genre, but there haven't been many that also incorporate a Souls-like battle system. Mana Spark is one such game and turns what could be a normal, everyday game that risks getting lost in the shuffle into a memorable experience. It provides a blend of Souls-like combat and rogue-like structure, with a hefty challenge to it. Enemies learn your strategies and force you to grow your skills in order to do well. Every enemy has their own set of skills that you will have to get accustomed to. If you have a long-range enemy that has a weakness to shorter-range attacks, then you have to be careful to avoid their attacks and make sure to land every shot you can.
The goal of your character is to rebuild your village and help maintain it. You'll meet characters and find new traps to attack enemies. Combining traps and regular combat looks to be a key to succeeding in the game's harder sections. There appears to be a fair amount of diversity with the game's design. Beyond using procedural generations for dungeons, you will also have a wide variety of long and short-range attacks. Sword attacks can start out as super short-range and then evolve into dashing attacks that allow you to destroy several foes at a time or in rapid succession.
The game's pacing looks like a blend between fast-paced and deliberate. Much like a Souls game, you do need to watch every movement that both you and your enemies make - but the pacing as a whole is faster because you always need to be at the ready. You can try to attack with reckless abandon, but doing so will probably get you killed more than anything else. The big key in a game like this is to attack, but do so with some forethought. Rushing into battle will lead to you focusing too much on offense and not enough on defense, leaving you open to quick and deadly beatings.
Trial and error will also tell the tale in Mana Spark. One great thing about Souls-like games is that you learn enemy patterns fairly quickly because if you don't, you just keep dying over and over again. Until you improve your skills, death is a certainty and you know you're getting better at the game's mechanics when you can topple a previously unbeatable enemy. Combat like this tends to be a mix of both frustrating and fulfilling.
The game's pixel art style is something that helps it stand out. While in theory, it gives it a look similar to Hyper Light Drifter, in execution, this goes for more of a 16-bit look, with some lighting that really couldn't be done on the hardware of that time. Mana Spark launches on September 27 via Steam and will be playable on Linux, PC, and MacOS - making it a rare game that sees release on all three major computing operating systems at the same time.