Mana Spark is a roguelike procedurally-generated dungeon crawler that can push you toward grinding, but it’s worth the effort.
The aim of Mana Spark is to fight your way through the dungeons fighting various enemies, collecting buffs and mana runes.
Dual Thumb Skills Required
Mana Spark excels through its combat; it’s tense and risky though well designed so you feel like you earn every victory. The left stick is used for movement and the right to aim your weapon.
The story revolves around humans being subjugated as they lack mana in their bodies compared to other races, resulting in them being massacred and enslaved.
This means you are dependent on defeating enemies to obtain mana runes, that will be your upgrading camp currency.
There’s no backup in the dungeons, unless Snake is in one of these boxes.
Your camp features several characters who can help you by cooking meals to give you a boost, a blacksmith that can make you items as a secondary attack or buff and a researcher who can make certain monsters weaker to your attacks.
I really enjoyed the combat, it’s fast paced and requires quick accuracy with both thumb sticks to dodge and shoot.
Rolling is also very useful to make some space between you and your enemies, whilst having it mapped to the left bumper makes it easy to access.
As the game initially relies on ranged combat; due to the two early characters using bows, it’s advantageous to learn your enemies attacks to hit them when they’re vulnerable.
I also learned to draw enemies into traps whilst leading them around to save my health, as unless you have the flask equipped that will restore health or get lucky to have an enemy drop food, health is precious in the dungeon.
Gotta Hate Those Skeletons
The first real test I had was with shielded skeletons, who you need to bait into an attack to hit them from their weak side. Though they throw quite a few enemies at you that it can be overwhelming at times making you have to think tactically about each move.
It didn’t take long for me to realise that taking the “definitely not an Estus Flask” item was really important to help get further, as death means going back to your camp and starting all over again.
The games first boss; a classic one eyed floating orb with cool tendrils had an annoying habit of spawning help which was initially overwhelming, as it also had several attacks to assault you with, whilst it’s lackeys slow you with projectiles.
This showed the depth of the combat and reinforced the need to make smart choices on what buffs you acquire during the previous dungeon floors.
The runes better be worth this insanity!
A Peculiar Room
Between the dungeon levels is the Peculiar Room that allows you to deposit the runes you’ve collected that are used to upgrade at the camp and also use coins collected to add one of three bonuses to your character.
The Peculiar Room also allows you to save which can be helpful when playing on the move.
Switching your secondary weapon in this room can help to change up your play style for the next area, especially if you know what’s coming up.
The secondary weapons can be really useful if you’re struggling with an enemy, with the bear trap damaging them and the web slowing them down just to name two.
Loadout is Critical
It’s very important to pick your loadout before going into the dungeon, this means picking the right food to give you a buff and the right secondary weapon based on your play style. Also getting weaknesses on enemies can boost your survival potential.
There are 3 characters available to use, but you only start with one and have to progress to unlock them, one after the first boss and the other a little later on in the game.
All three characters play differently with the starting character the Hunter having a slower but stronger attack than the Guard; who can also move and shoot faster.
These two offer a ranged option compared to the Warrior who uses a sword and shield to get up close to slash and block.
Graphically this game won’t blow anyone away, but the style is fitting and combined with the games music imparts a genuinely charming atmosphere (as charming as being mobbed by skeletons can be).
- Great fast paced combat
- Customization for differing play styles
- Grinding can be fun
- Loading times
- No checkpoints
- Lack of differing environments
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Dungeon crawling on the go
- Overall - 7/107/10
Mana Spark offers a great experience in quick bursts on the go.
The combat is fun and challenging, with various ways to play.
Not the longest game but you’ll die often enough it’ll give you value for money.