Alpha Particle is a different type of game and deserves recognition for it. From a top-down perspective, each stage is a single-screen twitch, reaction-based puzzle. Playing as a spark of electricity, the player needs to power terminals, trapping enemy sparks along the way. While it might sound simple and creative, the overall approach and presentation is confusing and complicated.
For once, I actually wish there was a more in-depth tutorial as there simply isn’t enough explanation on what to do and how to do it. Only after struggling for a half hour did I start to learn what the gameplay wants you to do. While you play as a spark, you don’t directly attack enemy electricity. Instead, you might lead these opponents to their death by tricking them into traversing over a kill zone. It gets even more complicated as new enemy types react in specific ways to your behavior and the patterns of other enemy sparks. For example, one enemy instantly kills you when other sparks are defeated… and the game never explains this or how to defeat it. Before you know it, stages start to get so out of control, making it difficult to even see the playable spark.
The UI is also complicated. Even if you know what you are doing, just trying to keep track of everything is difficult due to the cluttered stage design. Going for a realistic look, it is difficult to see the sparks when placed on these chrome backgrounds. Between deaths, in which the player needs to hold a button to restart which is weird and annoying, the game throws text boxes at the player which are supposed to provide hints. However, they appear and disappear so quickly, there is no way they can be read, let alone understood. Even the main menu is over engineered. Instead of just selecting to start a game or clicking on the options menu, you actually have to move the spark around a large screen, then wait in activation pods to access the settings or mode that you want. So even just getting into a game is very confusing the first time you play.
Alpha Particle earns respect and admiration for trying something so different but the overly complex UI and confusing gameplay only comes recommended to niche players. But hey, it isn’t a roguelike or ridiculous simulator, you know, the only type of game that gets released these days.
Not To Be Confused With: Alpha Protocol
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Wait For It: a Sparkster sequel
By: Zachary Gasiorowski, Editor in Chief myGamer.com