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  • Writer's pictureFrankieW

Game Review #222: Mana Sparks (Nintendo Switch)

Reviewer: FrankieW

Developer: BEHEMUTT

Publisher: QubicGames

Category: Action, RPG, Roguelike

Release Date: 12.22.2018

Price (at time of review): $9.99

Buy Mana Sparks from the Nintendo Switch eShop here.

Not the easiest expedition

I don’t know if you have put it together yet guys, but I’m kind of the Rogue-like guy around these parts here at JP'S SWITCHMANIA. I love those rough and tough bite sized adventures that keep me coming back for more and more, as I unlock more options that let me do more crazy stuff and the cycle continues. Mana Sparks hit me something special, and has had me coming back for more nonstop. The gameplay is not rife with flashy effects and huge damage, but more akin to Dark Souls in that you have your few options, and it's up to you to truly master it. This game is rough, but man does it FEEL GOOD! I have put some time into it, and I STILL haven’t gotten too far! But I’ve certainly got a good taste of what Mana Sparks has to offer and I can’t wait to tell you more about it.

You Vs The World

Mana Sparks takes place in a world of swords and magic, with demi humans and monsters of all kinds and sizes present. In this world, humanity is on its last legs, generally ruled over or hunted by the more prevalent life forms. It is up to you to bring together survivors, build a town, and find your one hope to save humanity, the all-powerful Mana Spark. Between you and that goal however, is going to be hours and hours of fighting monsters, dying, and building up your emerging guild’s town! The stage is set for this game’s pretty and simplistic pixel art style to grab your attention, as you adventure through forests, dungeons, libraries, and more in order to get to your goal, but don’t let the simple graphics fool you, as this game’s combat is deep!

These baddies can work together!

Mana Sparks is NOT a game where you will be tanking hits from the enemy; early enemies can one-shot-kill some heroes, or at least kill you in two hits if you aren’t careful. You will have to master each character’s abilities the best you can in order to know when to dodge, when to attack, and from what angle. One of the most interesting things I came across is the enemy AI, which is just plain FANTASTIC! I can’t just drop traps between me and an enemy and have them beeline into it, they will actively walk around them, try to flank you, and stagger their attacks to keep you on your toes, or turn a costly mistake into a fatal one.

More than once I’ve thought I had the AI figured out and it in turn surprised me again and turned a situation on its head to keep me reeling. I really loved this about Mana Sparks. There are a few different characters that will have different ways of dodging and attacking that keep things fresh. Your first character has a bow that you have to stop moving to aim and shoot, and has a cooldown to grab another arrow to fire, so you cannot just attack constantly, you have to pick and choose when to attack and when to keep trying to find a hole in the enemies defense. He also has a dodge roll complete with invincibility frames so you can escape from some nasty situations.

In contrast to him, the second character you get has a crossbow that does less damage, fires quicker and most importantly allows you to move while you attack, at the cost of less total health! She doesn’t have a dodge roll, but instead a quick dash that is governed by a meter that stocks up to 3 dashes and regenerates quickly. You will have to master positioning and movement if you want to excel with her!

Rebuild your future

I really dug slowly watching my people come together and build a bigger camp and provide me with permanent bonuses or a new sub weapon I could start my run with. The auto turret is a life saver! This game’s tunes aren’t anything too wild or memorable but I never found them annoying, or turned them off so that is not exactly a bad thing, and to mix it up the sound effects were all crisp and satisfying. This game might not tickle the fancy of someone who is looking for a Roguelike where you end up in a flashy mess of bullets and passive effects, but for someone looking for a very skill-based Roguelike with a defined upward progression in story and strength of characters, Mana Sparks will certainly treat you well!

Score: 8/10

Buy Mana Sparks from the Nintendo Switch eShop here.





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*Review Code Provided by QubicGames

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