If we were to call Sparkle 2: Evo a strange and beautiful game, we’d only feel mistaken on one point: that it’s a game. Your goals are so simple and unimpeded that it’s almost more appropriate to call it a toy with gentle suggestions about what you should do during your time in it.
In Sparkle 2: Evo, you control an organism that you essentially guide through an evolutionary process that is determined by which color of food you choose to eat. There are three colors of food– red, green, and blue– which also classify the different kinds of creature you can turn into.
However, the first of many confusing aspects of Sparkle 2: Evo is that you can make enormous leaps in your avatar’s anatomy that don’t seem reasonable. You can change from a fairly advanced green creature into a basic blue creature without an obvious reason. It’s only more baffling that, each time you make one of these changes, the words ‘Level Up’ flash on the screen. Those two words as well as the game’s context make the occasionally regressive ‘evolution’ of your avatar that much more confusing.
Progression in this game is unusual in general though, to say the least. The game has a very light structure, and all you have to do is collect a certain number of one kind of food to unlock more content. There isn’t really a story driving you forward, and there aren’t even that many obstacles in your path.
Somebody call the exterminator.
You’d think that would make Sparkle 2: Evo a bad game, and maybe it is. The game mechanics aren’t explained very well, nor does it seem like a tight game if you compare it to the few games like it (Flow and Spore come to mind). It’s oddly compelling, regardless. Its luminescent aesthetic and engrossing soundtrack can easily gain a vice-like grip over your attention, and its other-worldliness makes it difficult to criticize on the grounds of typical gaming conventions. It’s hard not to give this app the benefit of the doubt just because it’s so alien and arresting.
One thing we can’t give the benefit of the doubt, however, is its performance on the first-generation iPad we played it on. You don’t have to progress very far into the game’s available content to start seeing arguably unplayable framerates. Not only does it make it less fun, but it does its otherwise entrancing graphics no favors.
So, while it’s hard to recommend it as a game, Sparkle 2: Evo is a unique software something-or-other that you should probably spend some time with if you think its screenshots look interesting. Just make sure you wear some headphones and you’re not in the mood for particularly competitive gameplay.