Posted May 11, 2014 by Adam in Previews

Tom Sparks And The Quakes Of Ruin (PC) Preview

Tom Sparks Image
Tom Sparks Image

Tom Sparks injects some pleasant PS1 era 3D isometric gameplay in amongst the cluttered mess of DayZ kickstarter clones.

Sometimes, you just need a break from that library of bleak and murderous FPS shooters. Well I certainly do at the very least, which is why I was pleased to have been given Tom Sparks And The Quakes Of Ruin to preview by my overlords at GameFiends. This is a 3D isometric shooter/platformer that took me back to those innocent PS1 days where I was just a bright eyed youth who was yet to be corrupted by the GTAs of the world.

You play Tom Sparks, basically the videogame incarnation of Tom Selleck, a simple engineer whose underground home suddenly comes under threat from strange earthquakes emanating from the crust of the planet. This kicks off an adventure that takes Tom through a series of different worlds and environments with his eclectic range of weaponry (many of the concepts listed show a Ratchet and Clank influence) and his trusty hammer.

Tom Sparks Image 1

We were given one demo to preview of the opening level which gave us a good feel for the gorgeous artwork that would make Tom Sparks an engaging and eye catching piece of entertainment for younger gamers. The controls were quite awkward, due to Tom Sparks being neither a shooter nor a melee button masher, but a bit of both. I’ve never been a fan of decoupling the look direction from the movement direction in these sorts of games. But sadly that’s necessary to make use of the shooting mechanics within the game. Enemies can either be hammered to death or fired upon using Tom’s arsenal of weapons (which upgrade themselves with use). Blueprints can be found throughout the level of improve these weapons further or build new ones at special workbenches.

The gameplay was entertaining enough and felt reasonably solid given the early level of development that the title is currently in. Given the glut of poorly made pre-alphas currently flooding Steam Greenlight and Kickstarter pages (and in some cases, even making their way onto Steam), it was great that Tom Sparks felt like a well developed and polished piece of code. The difficult of the title is incredibly easy as the death mechanic places you back to a previous checkpoint, but does not reset the enemy spawns. Meaning that tougher boss battles are simply a case of eventually wearing down the opponent over the course of several lives, much like Bioshock Infinite.

Tom Sparks Image 2

My one concern about this title is that it may end up focusing entirely too much on the underground, and hopefully the full game would make good use of a range of both outdoor and indoor environments to help show off more of those visuals. Tom Sparks definitely has promise however, and could sit quite nicely in amongst any young gamers discerning library of PC games. There’s certainly nothing in here that causes much of a challenge, but it’s a pleasant enough way to kill a few of those lazy Sunday afternoon hours.

However, sadly the Tom Sparkskickstarter page closed on the 2nd May falling very short of its required $50,000 stretch goal. Developers Tasty Poison has only managed to raise just over $2,000 in funding. While their Steam Greenlight page is still active, it appears as though Tom Sparks may not be taken forward into full development. We’ve reached out to Tasty Poison to confirm what the future plans for this game would be (as the developers do have other titles in development at the moment).

Tom Sparks Image 3


Playing games since I'd developed enough motor functions to hold a joystick. From Commodore 64 all the way through to the latest gen. Favourite games to play are FPS games and anything with a deep and compelling story and a world that draws you in. I also enjoy writing, film making and playing bass in whatever band will have me :)