The Spectrum Retreat (Switch) – Review
Follow Genre: Puzzle Platformer
Developer: Dan Smith Studios
Publisher: Ripstone
Platform: PC, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, PS4
Tested on: Switch

The Spectrum Retreat (Switch) – Review

Site Score
6.7
Good: Quite frightening experience in some points
Bad: Short story with no replayability
User Score
6.0
(2 votes)
Click to vote
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Rating: 6.0/10 (2 votes cast)

Puzzle platformers are really few and far between, with the only really ground breaking ones recently being Portal, and The Witness. With so little variety it should be easy to make a good game in the genre, right? No iterations means unexplored territory, meaning lots of free space to attempt new gameplay mechanics, different lock types, and odd kinds of solutions to get past barriers. Then why does The Spectrum Retreat feel so much like it is just an extension of Portal? Lets find out, with this review of: The Spectrum Retreat.

Story

Waking up from a knock on the door, you open it to a mannequin-like person advising you on your wake-up call and informing you about the breakfast being served in the hotel dining room. Thanking the manager, you close the door, pick up your ringing phone and head for the breakfast. While you’re walking the halls of the hotel, you’ll start receiving messages from a mysterious sender telling you ‘You are expected’ and ‘Will free you’. Having had breakfast, you will get a call from Cooper, who will help you through the rest of the game. She will guide you to the floors and how to hide from the hotel staff until you can get free from wherever you are. To do so, you need to work through some puzzles to reach ever increasing numbers of floors culminating in reaching the roof where the game will end with an important narrative choice.

Graphics

It is never a good sign for a game when some of the first experiences with a game are about looking at weird visual glitches. This is unfortunately what happened to us when we started our initial run with the game. While everything was nice and sharp and realistic looking, it does get kind of repetitive. All of the floors of the hotel look the same, with the only distinguishing features being the layout of the floor, and the placement of the furniture and room doors. As well as the hotel setting, the other half of the game takes place in the puzzle rooms, which gives off a major Portal-vibe, but unfortunately it doesn’t get so far as to be a portal clone. The puzzle rooms are all minimalistic spaces, with little decor and everything visible being functional. Some of the decor would have visual glitches which we’re not sure if they are intentional because it happened to each instance of that item, but each time we noticed the same model of chair it would have scan-lines like an old VHS which could be interpreted as being a hint that you’re in a simulation.

Sound

Narrating half of your game, is Cooper. She will tell you where to go and will not. shut. up. when you’re outside the puzzles. Sadly, this is to hide how silent the game would be otherwise, with very little music, and even your character’s footsteps being so quiet, that the hotel seems to be haunted by your presence more than anything. The other half of your time with the game is in the puzzle rooms, which have some low, mysterious music in the background. The only other sounds you will hear come from your phone when you select the colors and the teleporters. On occasion you can find some of your memories bleeding through into the simulation which will play some haunted sound bytes from your past, but otherwise the game is eerily silent most of the way through.

Gameplay

Puzzle platformers have two general strategies for different kinds of puzzles. Environment puzzles where you get blocked by large crevices, unscalable walls, or other things like blocked doors or stage hazards. Logic puzzles are the other kind, where you need to combine objects, puzzle loose locks, and put together story elements to play through the game. The Spectrum Retreat is one of the former. Throughout the game’s puzzles, you’ll find four different color walls, and block blocks with corresponding colors that you can absorb to walk through them. Each level requires you to reach the other door in the room to teleport to the next room, and every floor of the hotel requires you to finish more and more puzzles to get to the next floor. The further you get into the game the more elements get involved such as a sort of ‘grapple’ point to draw the player across large gaps, and moving cubes to store your colors in. After each gauntlet of puzzles you’ll go back to bed in your room and reset the simulation with more freedom being one step closer to your goal.

Conclusion

The Spectrum Retreat couldn’t shake the feeling of being a Portal clone. The colored doors felt like portals to us and the grapple points felt a lot like the speed gels. With only the absence of GLaDOS to differentiate between the two games. Once you start making that comparison to Portal it breaks the immersion somewhat, and the experience starts to fall apart. The game starts feeling kind of short, and the more serious tone of the story ending with the player turning out to something you don’t expect him to be just feels… off. Individually the puzzles aren’t that challenging either, especially if you’re familiar with the games mentioned earlier, you’ll blaze through them. With the price of portal in the Steam store and the short experience, it makes it somewhat hard to wholeheartedly recommend this title. If you like the setting however, it will not really be that much of a disappointing experience.

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Rating: 6.0/10 (2 votes cast)
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The Spectrum Retreat (Switch) - Review, 6.0 out of 10 based on 2 ratings
Brustenhoven
Brustenhoven


Bryan, Dutch, gamer, metalhead. 24, and been playing games for as long as I can remember. Pokemon gold for life!

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