Lightracer Spark Review
Have you ever wondered what it would be- like to be a god, but, like, an actual deity instead of a near-invincible firstperson shooter protagonist? There are plenty of games on the market that let you play as an omnipresent being who controls everything from tanks to troops, however, for one reason or another, the same can’t be said for titles that put you in the space sandals of a mostly uncaring dude from proverbial heaven. Save for the entire 4X genre, and whatever we’re calling Civilization clones these days, there aren’t a lot of literal god games on the market. And for better or worse, Lightracer Spark shows us lame old mortals why that’s the case, because the game isn’t a lot of fun.
In case it wasn’t obvious from the previous paragraph, in Lightracer Spark, you play as a celestial being from the overworld. Well, technically, you take control of an amender from a high civilization, but potato potato. Your task is to guide a far-away world to prosperity by influencing the lives of key individuals on the planet through text-based gameplay, determining how conflicts play out with Civilization-lite army management and telling folks what to research so they can hopefully avoid getting consumed by some sort of generic galaxy-ending threat. You also need to manipulate the universe’s economy, make improvements to your mothership and learn new skills.
For the most part, then, Lightracer Spark’s gameplay is fine. The title’s roughly ten- hour-long campaign plays out a lot like a quick run of the oft-mentioned Civilization games, but without any of the aspects that make those titles interesting. There are no cool units to look at, no intricate political systems to mess with, and even building up cities just isn’t especially satisfying. There also aren’t a lot of elements in Lightracer Spark that let you feel like a deity, save for the fact that you’ll often have to wait literal years for your projects to be completed, and so overall, the non-story elements of the title ultimately feel boring when compared to the much better entries into the literal and not-so-literal god game genre.
It’s worth noting, too, that when Lightracer Spark isn’t boring, it’s often frustrating. A lot of the systems in the game are incredibly in-depth, and if you aren’t constantly paying attention to all of them, you can easily find yourself stuck and unable to progress the story. For example, if you forget to construct buildings in your cities before a war, you may be unable to recruit enough troops to win a war that you’re required to fight for the game’s narrative. Thankfully, it’s easy to manipulate your save files to circumvent this issue, but it does make the gameplay feel at odds with the game’s premise of playing as a deity.
Sadly, Lightracer Spark’s story feels at odds with its premise, too. In lieu of an interesting gameplay loop, the title puts a heavy emphasis on its narrative, which just isn’t very good. It’s unique to be sure, as taking control of an omnipresent being who ultimately doesn’t need to pay attention to the lives they’re influencing isn’t something that’s been explored in gaming to any significant degree. But the problem is that the very long-winded visual novel-esque cutscenes in the game are often a chore to sit through. There’s an astronomical amount of characters, cities, events and technologies to keep track of, all of which have surprisingly detailed entries into your codex, and like with the title’s gameplay, you’re forced to remember at least some of these if you want to understand what’s going on.
This means that, taken as a whole, Lightracer Spark feels like a game that’s constantly in conflict with itself. Although its story is unique, and its gameplay is good as far as non-mainstream strategy games go, the need to constantly be paying attention to so many things while simultaneously being able to spend in-game years doing literally nothing is just strange. If you’re looking for to quench your sci-fi fix and don’t feel like subscribing to Disney Plus, there are certainly worse ways to spend 10 hours, but if you’re not in the mood to be confused about an experience that isn’t especially noteworthy, you should just re-install Civ 6 instead.
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