Oddsparks: An Automation Adventure is a charming Lemmings x Factorio-style game

Posted on May 3, 2024

Sometimes you just want to be a little guy commanding an army of even littler guys to do your bidding.  Oddspark: An Automation Adventure is a cute and vibrant adventure game that has you filling this specific urge, crafting and creating a bunch of woodland creatures to hunt for resources and set up manufacturing pipelines. Always pleasant and colourful, it is a strong new alternative for automation nuts… even if it’s only just out in Early Access and has some ways to grow.

The first biome that players acquaint themselves with is rich with greens, featuring forest areas, plains and some rocky hills. Peppered around the maps are different points of interest, including chests with valuable resources but, most notably, Spark Shrines. These Spark Shrines are how you get the ball rolling. Soon, you’re using this shrine to create your first Spark, the ‘Stumpy’ Spark, which is animated and adorable walking and babbling tree stumps. There are other charming little lads to recruit and craft, including stone golems and even creatures shaped like a sword. It won’t take long for you to be taken by these little guys, walking around with them and commanding them and throwing them towards objects to destroy, much like in Pikmin.

Where Oddsparks: An Automation Adventure differentiates itself is that you’re not destroying obstacles in your path to progress, but rather trees for wood, rocks for stone and beasts for the goodies and valuable resources they drop. Then you take this all back to one of your production areas and get your Sparks walking along paths to transport materials, some operating woodcutting machines, others refining leaves into fertiliser and so on. There are even really quality logistics you can assign to Sparks. For example, you can identify that a spark isn’t to pass a certain area until it’s carrying a needed item, emphasising that this is the area for the production of wood while that is where the stone creation goes on. If you’re a real pro at the automation genre unlike the eager-eyed newbie I am, the efficiency with which you can make, craft and build towards key resources is wondrous. Oddsparks gives you the foundations to become a pipeline crafting genius. Even rookies like me can recognise the potential.

Progression doesn’t come in the form of a booming economy. Oddsparks is all about the journey of a quest-a-thon, tasking players with fulfilling requests upon requests to unlock more crafting recipes and more pipeline potential. These are all issued to you in the hub that is the central village, where curious individuals such as an elderly scholar, a rich merchant and a lumberjack are asking for these favours. Though this lost sense of an economy will lose some players, at the very least the tasks are all cohesive and feed into and complement one another. You can’t complete x task until y is done, and so on. These can be a slow grind but cooperative play will make these feel more achievable, though the game communicates this heavily as a function in ‘beta,’ so be warned.

I’m about a dozen hours into Oddsparks: An Automation Adventure, in the second biome, a mountainous region, and near the end of the possible content thus far. It is bursting with potential ahead of whenever developer Massive Miniteam decides to take the title into 1.0. That being said some of what I consider the more pressing concerns are the fact that combat fights could stand to look a bit more visually interesting. It’s all about throwing your guys at foes often ten times their size, creating a real pile-on effect. I wish this was animated more exciting, having them latch onto big bulbous creatures’ backs à la Pikmin, but I also understand they don’t have a Nintendo-level budget allowing for all the flourishes and whimsy out the wazoo.

Oddsparks: An Automation Adventure could also do with that one extra special function. The dopamine of a quest-filled checklist completionist spree and something else. It may not be on the table for the game, but an economic system that shows more tangible progress really would go a long way.

Regardless, Oddsparks: An Automation Adventure is already quite the triumph, even in Early Access. Already it overcomes the difficult task of combining and making two systems-heavy genres in the automation and real-time strategy of commanding your army of little woodland creatures works well. There’s little to complain about, and all that awaits is some refinement, further biomes and exploration. It’ll be one to keep an eye on come 1.0.

Oddsparks: An Automation Adventure is available now to play on PC. Check it out.