Project Spark Review – Xbox One

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There are a lot of words that I could use when talking about Team Dakota’s game making sandbox title Project Spark for the Xbox One. Amazing, diverse and inspiring are just a few. As someone that’s dreamed of someday designing the games that I love to play Project Spark is an amateur’s peak at what goes into creating a game and how they work. While I probably won’t be joining the ranks of game designer anytime soon my time with Project Spark has been a rewarding one.

The first couple of things about Project Spark that one should know is that it’s free to play and that it’s not so much of a game as it is a game maker. That’s right you don’t have to pay a dime to experience Project Spark if you don’t want to. That said I’m here to review the $39.99 Project Spark Starter Pack which included all the following content in one introductory package:

  • “Champions Quest” Episode 1: Void Storm
  • Sci-Fi: Galaxies theme
  • Arctic Glaciers landscape
  • Yeti’s Rage
  • Sir Haakon the Knight Champion
  • 1 Month of premium – accelerates XP and credit earning by 2x
  • Massive World Builder’s Pack

There is a plenty of content included in this starter pack but that is only the tip of the creativity iceberg as there is so much more available in the Project Spark’s marketplace. Now this is the part where micro-transactions come in. You can drop real money to purchase new locales, props and even characters with Tokens. Don’t feel like spending money, no worries you don’t have to. Everything with the exception of Spark Premium can be bought merely by playing Project Spark itself. Everything from logging in to spending time with your own creations to completing challenges rewards you with credits that can be used to buy content. It’s what you do with that content that really makes Project Spark special.

But before you start crafting your own worlds or remixing others it’s a good idea to check out the episodic co-op adventure “Champions Quest”. This fun Action RPG, not only acts as Project Spark’s campaign mode but gives you an idea of what you could create with this suite. I like the fact that once you unlock some more content you can remix and edit “Champions Quest” to make it your own. One of my favorite things about “Champions Quest” is that it includes Kode Glitches, small puzzles that you must complete to make it farther into the story.

These puzzles cleverly give you the first look at Project Spark’s signature koding brain system that gives players an idea of how things work when a game is actually coded to make things work like flipping a switch and making a lift move as a result. Truth is every object in Project Spark has a brain which defines what that object does or how it reacts when interacted with. Most of them contain pre-made brains like the ones that make goblins hostile. You can swap these brains out with other premade ones or if you’re up for the challenge you can create your own from scratch with the role defining Kode tiles which is pretty cool.

After I made it through the first episode, I turned my sights on trying my hand at actually creating my own adventure. There are a couple of ways to do this but going through the tutorial is a solid way to get a grasp of what you’re getting yourself into before you do it. For the most part it did a really good job of putting me on the right track though the only issue I really have is that the menus, especially when switching between them, takes a bit to actually get used to at first.

Players can then use the knowledge gained from the tutorial to either start their own worlds and stories from scratch for the more adventurous or get a helping hand for those still a little uneasy about how things work with premade locations like rolling hills and biomes(environments) such as deserts. While my early creations are far from ready for community viewing, I look forward to one day building something that I’m really proud of.

Sometimes creativity takes more than one person to flourish much like the game development companies of the world. Here in Project Spark, you can use Xbox LIVE to join up with your friends and create something special. If level design isn’t your thing then try your hand at painting the terrain or designing the characters with all the unlocked content that you have. That’s one of the beauty of Project Spark, you can almost be your own little game development with your closest friends. While you won’t be gaining any royalties from these creations you can share your works with the rest of the Project Spark community.

Usually this is the part where I go over graphics and audio, but with Project Spark this a hard section to cover. Spark features so many types of themes with accompanying audio that it’s hard to put them all to words. Character models and props while all being different, do share the same cel-shaded feel to them so there is consistency there. As I perused the online offerings though it’s interesting to see how many themes can go together in just the right way. The audio effects while all were pretty good, I sort of grew attacked to the wolf and necromancer sets for their audio. I also dig the fact that actor Jim Cummings with his distinct voice is the narrator for all of your adventures in Project Spark.

As a game-making suite, Project Spark is easy one of the most accessible ones I’ve ever tried my hand at with its tutorials and broken down presentation. The fact that Project Spark includes so much content and flexibility with more on the way, and that you can experience it all for FREE is astounding. I love Team Dakota’s built-in story but it’s the stories created by the world at large that I can’t wait to experience. If you want a look into the world of what it takes to make a videogame then you have to check out Project Spark for Xbox One today.

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