Is Oddsparks: An Automation Adventure, Worth Playing?
Honest Video Game Reviews received a free copy of this title for review purposes, however our opinions are our own.
Oddsparks: An Automation Adventure is a wonderful game held back by design choices that make it less enjoyable than it should be and the developer’s insistence on doing everything their own way.

The Lowdown.

Product Details
Genre: Management
Developer: Massive Miniteam
Publisher: HandyGames
Price: $19.99
Release Date: 24 April 2024

Oddsparks: An Automation is absolutely stunning. While the character models are rather limited, the rest of the game is fantastic. I honestly wish more developers were brave enough to launch games as vibrant and colourful as Oddsparks: An Automation, especially when they utilise an art style as vibrant and whimsical as that of World of Warcraft and its RTS predecessors.

While the world looks great, and the sparks are adorable, the building and creature designs, in particular, truly impress me.

Unfortunately, this is the only truly brilliant aspect of Oddsparks: An Automation. While the rest of the game is very good and has the potential to be even greater, much of that potential is left unrealised for one very good reason: the developers have opted to make certain mechanics worse for seemingly no reason beyond increasing the (artificial) difficulty level of the game.

Is Oddsparks An Automation Adventure Worth Playing

What Is Artificial Difficulty?

Artificial Difficulty is what happens when developers make a game more difficult by intentionally designing a feature or mechanic to function in such a way that it works against the player for no reason other than making the game more difficult instead of allowing players to tackle ever-increasingly difficult challenges with features that work to the benefit of players instead of against them, artificial Difficulty is when developers make a game more difficult by designing a feature or mechanic to function in such a way that it works against the player for no reason other than making the game more difficult.

A perfect example of this occurs early in the game when players are informed that sparks only walk on the “right side of the road” This makes designing a factory layout far more tedious and “difficult” than it should be while offering no real challenge to the player, beyond wasting their time micromanaging sparks.

While I commend the developers for trying something new, there is no reason to change a formula that already works. Other factory builders such as Factorio and Satisfactory use far less convoluted systems with an incredibly high skill ceiling, allowing players to quickly master the basics before moving on to more complex automation.

Is Oddsparks An Automation Adventure Worth Playing 2

So Close, Yet So Far.

When playing Oddsparks: An Automation, I found I spent more time micromanaging my sparks than enjoying the game, which is something I never felt when playing Factorio or Pikmin, two of the primary inspirations for Oddsparks: An Automation.

On that note, I must point out that Oddsparks: An Automation has the best implementation of “Pikmin-like” mechanics in any game that I have played other than Pikmin games themselves, and the ability to play with friends (and strangers) is fantastic, however unlike Pikmin combat in Oddsparks: An Automation is rather lacklustre, and occasionally frustrating, with players being forced to recall stunned sparks every few seconds, instead of allowing them to deal with the enemy, and only intervene when absolutely necessary.

That being said, Oddsparks: An Automation is still in early access, and if the developers can further refine this system, I dare say it could become even more enjoyable than Pikmin, something which I do not say lightly as a massive fan of the Pikmin franchise.

Is Oddsparks An Automation Adventure Worth Playing 5

It Needs A Narrower Scope.

My main issue with Oddsparks: An Automation is that the developers try to do too much instead of focusing on a smaller subset of mechanics that would result in a much better game. A perfect example of this issue is the quest system that unlocks additional buildings and spark types.

Ignoring that almost every quest is a variation of a fetch or kill quest, the main issue is that players can unlock quests before they have unlocked the requirements to complete them. This causes players to be frustrated as they scour the map for an item, only to find that it is locked behind the completion of an unrelated quest in another quest chain.

I personally would do away with the quest system entirely and use a more traditional research building and skill tree to unlock additional buildings and sparks, however if the developers do not wish to go that route, ensuring that quests can not be accepted until prerequisite quests are completed would go a long way towards making completing quests less frustrating, as let’s be honest few people read good text-based fetch and kill quests, let alone the low-level generic fantasy drivel that comprises the vast majority of quests in Oddsparks: An Automation.

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Disappointing Character Creator.

Oddsparks: An Automation Adventure’s character creator is rather lacklustre and also rather baffling, with the developers stating they have no plans to allow players to choose their gender, instead forcing everyone to play as a feminine leaning mostly androgynous character instead of allowing players to choose either a masculine or feminine character model as the basis for their character.

This behaviour is, unfortunately, a textbook example of performative idealism; by opting to highlight a single ultra-minority (non-binary individuals) at the expense of everyone else, including every other minority, the developers have shown a total disregard for over 99.9% of the world’s population by refusing to allow players to create characters that represent them.

This disregard for the gender identities of the vast majority of their player base becomes even more alarming when you take into account that many non-binary individuals opt to present as either male or female, such as demisexuals who identify as a primary gender while incorporating elements of a different gender, meaning that claiming that even 0.1%  of the world’s population are entirely non-binary and do not identify at all with binary genders is an overly generous assumption.

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While the developer’s heart may have been in the right place, this attempt at diversity does little but provide ammunition to far-right individuals, who are chomping at the bit to frame left-leaning developers as unhinged fanatics with an agenda to push, unfortunately forcing 99.9% of players to play as an androgynous, non-binary character is a great way to reinforce that negative stereotype.

I would have no issue with the developers including a gender-natural option; in fact, I would praise their attempts at making strides towards making non-binary gamers feel seen, welcome, and included. These three things are central to a positive gaming environment, and I feel they are very important.

Pretending that humans are not biologically male or female, regardless of how they identify, is not only academically dishonest but borders on bigotry, as it denies 99.9% of gamers the ability to play as a character that matches their gender identity, including the trans gaming community, which already faces enough hostility and dismissal in the gaming community as it is.

So God created man in his own image; in the image of God, he created him; male and female, he created them. - Genesis 1:27

Jesus tells us to love one another, and pretending that one group doesn’t exist to please another group isn’t showing love or acceptance; it is bigotry, no matter which group is being favoured.

One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating.

Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”

“The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is on   Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’

The second is this: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ [g] There is no commandment greater than these.”

- Mark 12:28-31

However, in closing, to give credit where credit is due, the developers did ensure that players can choose from a wide variety of skin tones, which is nice to see in an early access title, considering that it wasn’t too long ago that many early access games would launch with only the ability to create a bald white male character, with many developers opting to wait and see if the game was a success before including female characters and skin tones other than 50 shades of caucasian.

Oddsparks: An Automation Adventure FAQ

Oddsparks: An Automation Adventure is a management video game developed by Massive Miniteam and published by HandyGames, it was released on 24 April 2024 and retails for $19.99.

Platform Availability.

Oddsparks: An Automation Adventure is available exclusively on PC.

Is There Group Finding/Matchmaking Support?

Oddsparks: An Automation Adventure offers the following matchmaking options:

  • Server Browser

What Peripherals Are Supported?

The following peripherals are officially supported:

  • PC - Controller.
  • PC - Mouse and Keyboard.

Is There Any Mature Content?

Oddsparks: An Automation Adventure is unrated and contains no mature content.

Final Verdict.

Oddsparks: An Automation is a really fun game that could become so much more if the developers learned the value of humility and straying from their original design when the community does not go over well with the people you hope will become your future customers.

While it’s never easy to accept that your plan for a project may not align with what your customers want, refusing to listen to feedback, especially when it concerns a core mechanic and not some meta issue, is a sure recipe for disaster, especially when the genre already has plenty of excellent titles.

While a new entry as good as Oddsparks: An Automation is welcome, the factory builder genre is hardly desperate for a new entry. If Oddsparks: An Automation were to fail, while it would be unfortunate to lose a title within such promise, it would have very little effect on the genre or its massive fanbase, and Massive Miniteam needs to understand that while they have something to offer the genre, it will continue without them and that they need to listen to community feedback if they want to avoid Oddsparks: An Automation dying a slow and meaningless death in early access.

Is Oddsparks: An Automation Adventure Worth Playing In 2024?

7
Honest Video Game Reviews has given "Oddsparks: An Automation Adventure" a rating of 7/10, indicating that it is a good game, that is well worth playing, and while it may have a few shortcomings, the average gamer will enjoy it.

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