Scarlett and the Spark of Life has received a special kind of update: a behind-the-scenes look at the development of the game through “visual commentary.” At certain points in the game, you can now click on information bubbles to bring up notes from the developers about the design, programming, and testing of Scarlett.
This developer’s commentary can be toggled on and off in the options menu. Some highlights include early sketches of Scarlett, details on the game’s branching dialogue, and alternate versions of the level designs. This feature seems to be a first for iPhone games, and we’ve only seen it before in console games from Valve like Left 4 Dead. Even if you’ve played through this episode already, the extra information is fascinating.
Because the visual developer commentary is a great incentive to replay the game, we are bumping our review score from a 3 to a 4. Scarlett and the Spark of Life is an excellent first episode, and we can’t wait to see what lies ahead for her and her mechanical horse Gherkin later this year.
From her first words in this game, “You bastards! How did you manage to drug me?” it’s apparent that Scarlett is not your typical princess. Instead of weak and helpless, she’s clever and resourceful. She’s not afraid to get some mud on her boots, or a bird’s nest in her hair.
In this original iPhone adventure game, you play as Princess Scarlett in the midst of a kidnapping attempt. After a sudden getaway, you hide out in a small village. The Spark of Life in the title refers to a strange glow which animates a mechanical horse’s head in an abandoned workshop, and you have to add a body, legs, and a tail to make your escape.
Each component of your horse requires some puzzle-solving to obtain, so you’ll have to explore the environment and chat up the townsfolk. Each character has an interesting personality, but there are only five townsfolk to meet in this brief adventure.
Scarlett and her mechanical horse, which she dubs Gherkin after her favorite type of veggie, have the most interesting relationship in the game. We look forward to seeing more of them in future episodes, but in this episode their time together is just too brief. For the asking price, we were hoping for more than an hour and a half of gameplay, especially since the dialogue and storyline are so entertaining.
Not as much as Bad Horse’s terrible death whinny.
We’re extremely happy to play an original iPhone adventure game with such witty dialogue, but Scarlett’s first episode ends much too soon. With full-length PC ports like Secret of Monkey Island and Beneath a Steel Sky available for the same price, you’d be better off starting with those games first. If you’re still looking for an adventure that you can breeze through in an hour or two, say hello to Scarlett.