In a shocking turn of events, arcade-styled games starring evolutionary entities searching through petri dish detritus for food are not in fact a dime a dozen. Sparkle 2 EVO is a game by which you experience a world not unlike what you’d find under a microscope in biology class, in order to climb the chain of transformative life by either being an unquenchable predator or a passive phytophagous. Is it worth a trip to the lab?
In Sparkle 2 EVO, you control a micro-organism as it searches for food in order to evolve into something bigger. The layout is simple; you can move it around with the analogue stick and rise up or sink into the depths with the shoulder buttons. It’s also possible to play with the touch screen, but with the action obscuring your view it’s not recommended. You collect various coloured amoeba to satiate your hunger, each shade leaning you towards being a carnivore, herbivore or the omnipresent omnivore. Unfortunately, none of this has an impact on the game in terms of how hastily your creature moves, or even the potential for an extra move you can perform with the Y button that just pushes you towards eating more things.
The game can be played in one of two ways. The first is that you compete against AI controlled organisms in a sort of race to see who can gobble up the most proto matter. While the game pushes you towards taking a certain path by eating specific coloured foodstuff, you can effortlessly glide through the game by eating everything in sight, which will often have you overcoming your opponent handily.
The other is a more experimental take, which removes the opposition completely and just has you hovering around and gluttonously devouring everything in sight until the level complete signal triggers. Its low expectations of the player in turn make for a low expectation of the game. It can feel rather dull, actually.
The visuals in Sparkle 2 Evo have a definite pop. It’s like looking into a microscope and seeing the oscillating and undulating world through a neon lens. Your little critter swims across a world awash in a dark sea with bright strands of DNA setting the stage and guiding you towards your next meal. As you gobble up microelements it can be fun to watch your evolutionary avatar grow pincers, segments and legs. The whole experience is surrounded by a neat soundtrack that is part ambient noise filter, crackling speaker and mellow looped electronic beats.
It can be fun to behold, but the fact that the actual gameplay itself doesn't offer a great deal is a disappointment. It very much feels like a proof of concept that isn’t given the push it needs to be something more engaging and impactful.
Sparkle 2 EVO has an interesting visual and sound design, but lacks a truly compelling gameplay hook. In its attempt at catering to both the tense competitive gaming crowd and the chill experiential group, it fails to fully entertain on either front. it's neither challenging nor relaxing, which in turn limits its appeal.