Mana Spark is a grind. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Dungeon crawlers are action-packed but tend to require at least some time investment.
As the title lays out, mana is pretty dang important in the world of Mana Spark. Humanity is relegated to slavery by stronger, nastier creatures, all because our collective mana level is effectively zero. Do you even mana, bro? Spoilers: not yet.
That’s where you come in. As a fledgling archer, you must venture out into the world and collect as much mana as you can. You dive deeper and deeper into more and more difficult dungeons, all randomly generated. The greater the risk, the greater the reward. You can grab upgrades to make your attacks stronger, faster, and add a few more hearts to your health bar. The only problem is once you’re dead, you’re kicked right back to the beginning, where your dungeon crawl began.
That’s fine, actually. Because remember, the name of the game is mana. After you collect a bunch, you can mail it to your small, but dedicated encampment. The more mana you collect, the more campers will join your plight. Campers come armed with knowledge, sub-weapons, and even snacks, all to aid you in your quest. Easy enough, right? Yes, in fact.
Attacking took some getting used to, but it’s pretty intuitive. The right Joy-Con control stick aims your arrows, and the right trigger fires them off. Different enemies require different attack strategies, but most you can face head-on. Plus, as you progress deeper and deeper into the dungeons, you can revive fellow warriors who were turned to stone. That, coupled with the varied sub-weapons and power-ups, offers quite a bit of variety in a game that requires at least some grinding. For the slower folks amongst us (i.e. me), the grind won’t be minutes or hours. It will likely be days.
And this would be an easy pill to swallow if it weren’t for the loading times between dungeon levels. I suspect it’s because of the procedurally generated levels, which I could honestly take or leave. Yes, levels are “new,” but don’t expect many surprises when you visit levels you’ve been to before. The variations are subtle and don’t exactly make up for the monotony of the loading screen.
That said, the presentation is enough to make Mana Spark oddly addicting. Mana Spark does a lot with less, in one of the most minimally designed dungeon crawlers this generation has to offer.
Review: Mana Spark (Nintendo Switch)
Mana Spark’s premise pays off and will turn into a time sink for anyone even remotely into the dungeon-crawling genre. Despite the addictive nature of this simply presented game, the loading screens will make you shout expletives out loud: especially when progressing, or worse, dying.