Project Spark

Project Spark was advertised as the ultimate creation tool. We were told that we could to create everything from worlds to games inside of the game.  Essentially, Project Spark was to be a tool let our imaginations run wild in a new domain. I was very skeptical of such capabilities, and for free none-the-less. However, gamers have come to realize that “free” rarely means free of charge.

Upon starting Project Spark, I was tempted to jump right into creation, but decided to give the single player a try first. There is an option to play a journey with one of three “champions” to play as. I had a lot of fun with missions that were simple but enjoyable. The game is mindful of itself - a creation tool book ended by single and multiplayer - and doesn't try to be something it is not. I did run into a few issues during the single player experience. First of all, the game locks up frequently. Combine that with the complete lack of checkpoints and this can lead to a semi-frustrating experience. Keep in mind, none of the levels are very long. I never felt like I was wasting tons of time because of the freezing, but I really hate having to redo things as a result. There was another problem with the game, one that prevented me from progressing further into the story. Pay wall, pay walls everywhere.

Free to play games usually have pay walls, though characters and other non-essential items are typically the items that require money. This is actually a huge issue in Project Spark. I was stopped mid-story and the only way to progress was to buy a new character, the reason being that this specific person could enter the next area and no one else. This was the first time in my video game career that I was forbidden to progress in a story without spending money and I couldn’t believe it. It would have been understandable if the entire story was locked out as a sort of expansion. Instead, I had limited access and it was infuriating.

Singleplayer is an afterthought in the grand scheme of Project Spark. The main focus is creation. When you boot the game, it tries to get you into a creation tutorial. This tutorial to be extremely tedious and somewhat useless. This may be because I learn from making mistakes and having something hold my hand doesn’t really make the information stick. The kind of creation is reminiscent of “forge” in the Halo series, where players can place scenery wherever they want. Additionally, you can craft the landmass; similar to the Far Cry series. If you want to create a floating island then you can. The most unique thing that’s possible is creating enemies. You can also mess with the movements and tendencies of any “player” you decide to place in the world. Your imagination can run wild and anything you can think of is possible… if you can figure it out. I found much of the creation process to be wildly complex. Too much so for the casual creation tool it was made out to be.

After playing Project Spark for an extended period of time, I must say I was disappointed. A game built around creation makes it frustratingly difficult to do so. Combine that with a singleplayer mode stifled by pay walls and the options are pretty limited. I must say, my personal disappointment does not make this a bad game. I had a lot of fun playing and if you don't mind paying a little then there is value here. The creation isn't bad either, just too challenging. It was a game of great promise, but in the end it couldn’t live up to the expectations created for itself.