In Tom Sparks and the Quakes of Ruin, Tom Sparks – the Freddie Mercury of the gaming world – is on a mission to do… something, because… something happened. While none of that is clear, what is clear is that this game is making an honest attempt at making something with a sense of humour and pick-up-and-play playability. While currently in Alpha stage, these two elements have been developed quite well. Sadly for the time being, not a lot else has.
The game uses the standard and expected WASD key combo to move Tom throughout his underground world. Normally even people who game on consoles have little trouble playing a game with these keys. However, in Tom Sparks, the world is in an angled isometric view, making movement much more difficult than it needs to be. Basically, through most of the game two directional keys will need to be used to avoid falling off a platform. The mouse is used to aim your character, so much of the time, you will be sprinting through the underground backwards.
With the game being in early alpha stages, not much content is available yet but the developers mention the game will feature “crazy weapons”. They certainly have some planned for the full game, including the Wormbait Launcher and the Gnome Squad. However in the alpha the craziest gun is a TNT Launcher, which works in the same way to the other projectile weapons. Your weapons do level up and improve with enemy kills; frustratingly though, in the middle of combat.
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Combat is described as exciting. Unfortunately at the moment it isn’t really that exciting. You only have limited ammo for your firearms, and until they’ve levelled up it’s pretty easy to unload most of it into a single enemy. The normal enemies deal an absurd amount of damage, which is almost unavoidable when you’re forced to resort to the only melee weapon in the game, your wrench. Luckily it doesn’t matter at all if you die, you respawn at the previous checkpoint which is usually only a few metres away. You don’t even lose any of the in game currency, gears, nuts etc.
That currency is used to develop weapons that you uncover in the form of blueprints. These can be found throughout the game but at the moment these are very basic, as is the crafting system. Hopefully in the full version of the game we’ll see further attachments and customisations. At the moment, they’re a bit lacking.
After finishing the demo, I’ve decided that there may now be more games that include a giant spider as a boss than games that don’t. More originality is needed to make this a memorable experience when it’s fully released. This boss encounter was also perhaps the easiest part of the game because by this point you’ll have several firearm weapons that you can fire at him (he’s big and hard to miss), while staying out of harms way.
If you find yourself with an hour to spare, there are certainly worse ways to spend it and there’s definitely potential for Tom Sparks to become an enjoyable game. The game is currently up for voting on Steam Greenlight, and is being funded through Kickstarter.