Sparc wears its influences on its sleeve. From the very mechanics of the combat itself to the neon-edged aesthetic style, Sparc is clearly influenced by Tron. This is not a bad thing. The clean lines suit it well, with the glowing lights drawing the attention exactly where it needs to be – on the action.
The basic premise is very simple – throw a glowing ball at your opponent. Try not to get hit by the orbs your opponent is throwing. From such simple concepts have amazing things been built, however. Sparc is about skill. To get the most out of Sparc you will need to spend time practising, honing your hand-eye coordination to make sure your aim is perfect, and your timing flawless.
Sparc is one of the most physical virtual reality (VR) titles for the PlayStation VR. Where most videogames, even most VR titles, would handle blocking and dodging with a button press, Sparc involves movement. A successful block and rebound requires you to move your arm and the PlayStation Move controller into the right place at the right time, dodging means you have to bend and flex out of the way, throwing is a physical action as well. The straps on the PlayStation Move become vital here as your hands get sweaty and the controllers become harder to grip.
Playing Sparc requires a much bigger playing area that most PlayStation VR titles, so its important to clear the area of furniture, toys, cats, dogs and small children before firing up the PlayStation VR. For anyone experiencing any kind of back or shoulder problems, its also a very good idea to limber up before playing, and perhaps consider giving yourself a time limit, as this is not a title that is easy on the body. Great if you need a workout, though.
Multiplayer is the focus, here. Though there are various single-player challenges available to allow players to perfect skills, it is very clear that they are not the focus, there isn’t even an AI to play against. If you want to most out of Sparc, you will need a PlayStation Plus subscription to access multiplayer. There are three main game modes in multiplayer – Basic, Advanced and Experimental. The objective is the same for all of them – hit the opponent with the ball. Basic mode is a three-minute timed match, Advanced is a race to see who can get four points fastest. Experimental is where things get odd, as the arena is tilted, offering new surfaces to bounce the ball off, offering a different dynamic.
Sadly, there are few other options outside the three game modes, and the arenas all look somewhat the same. Some variety would have been pleasant. You can customise your avatar, however. Despite the stripped-down art style, there are a pleasing number of customisation options available to make your avatar unique.
If you fancy a break, you can hang out in the spectator gallery and watch other matches in progress. If someone talks here, it buzzes through the air with an odd reverb as if a robot was speaking, or it came from a PA system.
Sparc is a well-crafted multiplayer experience that can cheerfully absorb many hours of your time, if you have the stamina (and space in your house) for it. The lack of variety in the arenas and the dearth of single-player features is something of a disappointment, but overall, Sparc is an exciting and fun multiplayer title.