Lightracer Spark Demo – First Impressions – Amending worlds, one nation at a time

Gare – Tuesday, February 7, 2023 11:23 AM
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When I first got my hands on the demo of Lightracer Spark, I wasn’t quite sure what to make of it – I’m usually not the type to delve too deep into strategy/resource management games, but at the same time, I’m also the kind of person who reads every single tidbit of lore while scanning planets in Mass Effect 2, so… you know. Either way, my point is that I quite enjoy losing myself in all the nitty-gritties of fictional futuristic worlds, and Lightracer Spark, with its fairly unique premise, seemed like it would give me just that. And, well… it did.

But let’s actually talk about what kind of game this is, because that’s the part I found really intriguing. Essentially, you take on the role of a so-called Amender, a member of a higher civilization capable of interfering with the evolution of extraterrestrial worlds – by influencing the economies of various nations, settling wars or even recruiting key personnel with promising backgrounds, you can shape how a given world’s history will unfold. Why do all that, you may ask? Well, the prologue more or less introduces you to the Amenders’ motivations, but the gist of it is that you’re trying to prevent the end of the universe. Sort of. In order to tackle this cosmic threat, you need trusty allies – and so, you visit multiple worlds, “amend” their civilizations and potentially recruit them to your cause.

I’ll admit that the actual gameplay portion of Lightracer Spark might, at first, feel a tad intimidating if you’re not used to sifting through half a dozen menus while spending your resources and managing all the various aspects of your chosen nation, from diplomacy and production all the way to military exploits and important investment decisions. Don’t be too alarmed, though – at least based on my experience with the demo, the stuff I’ve described above isn’t as complicated as it sounds. For one, the tutorial gives you the basics, and you can more or less follow the examples laid out before you (invest in this, construct that, etc.) as you progress further, but even as the training wheels come off, things still stay relatively manageable. In the end, the missions I completed in the demo didn’t require too much economic know-how, allowing me to instead focus on the narrative aspects of the title – which, to me, were its true highlights.

Each mission undertaken by the Amender is presented in a visual novel-esque format, with the player occasionally given some choices in terms how to handle each situation. To me, this really elevated the demo from a dry resource manager to more of an immersive sci-fi experience, where you don’t just see numbers and statistics in a menu, but actually gain some insight into the personal stories that may shape the course of a given civilization. Harvesting resources and reaping investment returns is nice and all, but once the narrative and all the juicy sci-fi lore came to the forefront, I was fully invested (excuse the pun) and eager to learn more – and let’s be honest, being an almost godlike entity that’s secretly on a mission for the greater good is just a really snazzy premise. Frankly, even the tutorial/prologue gives you a fairly memorable, albeit endlessly bittersweet demonstration of an Amender’s responsibilities, and it certainly sets the mood for the rest of the demo.

So, my overall advice would be this: don’t be too intimidated if you’re normally not into strategy/management sims – Lightracer Spark is advertised as a sci-fi narrative game, so if you’re at all intrigued by its larger-than-life premise and want to read about some cool sci-fi stuff, I say give the demo a shot and see if its unique premise and atmosphere draw you in. I, for one, enjoyed it quite a bit.

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