Top Critic Average
The Spectrum Retreat impresses with its devilishly tricky puzzle solving, which rewards exploration and new ways of thinking about challenges. A real delight — check yourself into the Penrose Hotel today.
The Spectrum Retreat is a challenging, first-person puzzle game set within the near future. As you awake and being to explore the Penrose hotel, you will begin to unlock your memories through the various colour-based logic puzzles and various interactions you have with the mysterious Cooper. You must solve each of these ingenious puzzles as you uncover the truth behind why you are in such a place and who is behind your imprisonment. The Spectrum Retreat has AAA quality voice acting, an amazing soundtrack and the perfect amount of mind-bending and thought-provoking puzzles all contained within a single package.
Expertly created puzzles, a setting which is as equally enticing as it is unsettling, a thought provoking narrative, excellent music and top draw voice work combine to form a truly enjoyable puzzle game that’ll have me leaving a very positive Trip Advisor review.
The Spectrum Retreat is a game that I had been following, and I'm happy I got a chance to play it since I definitely liked its lush futuristic hotel setting, the color-based puzzle solving, and the great story. The one complaint would be the weird-looking mannequins, but that's about it! Hopefully Dan Smith gives us some extra puzzles as DLC since I had fun with this 5-7 hour release and wouldn't mind more puzzles, or a full-fledged sequel!
But, those challenges are all in the later half of the journey, so getting to them will be a chore. I think all of the concepts here, warrant a sequel, that I would gladly come back to. A few tweaks here and there, would assist in the overall experience, but all in all I recommend checking into The Penrose for a few puzzling nights.
Putting these two halves together The Spectrum Retreat is a surprising treat, with both elements of the gameplay motivating me to get further so I could understand or solve more. While I wish there were more room for discovery in the hotel sequences I suppose the deliberate and slow doling out of clues keeps the revelations around what’s happening at a specific pace. I will say that some of the backtracking through the hotel got tedious when there wasn’t anything of value to do along the way, but it usually didn’t waste too much time. Right through the game’s conclusion I was pretty satisfied with the experience and would love to see more titles with this pairing of gameplay styles in the future.
The Spectrum Ward is a creative little title that manages to craft an interesting world and some memorable moments, but it feels a bit lacking in the gameplay department. Still, while its puzzles may not wow, it’s an experience worth having
Despite some excesses in the levels structure, and the evident low budget, The Spectrum Retreat is a real game design diamond, with a well-structured and engaging narration.
Review in Italian | Read full review
The Spectrum Retreat is a wonderful first-person puzzle game. It contains clever puzzling and a mysterious story involving the past of the main character you play as. It's $12.99 on the Switch eShop, had a 5 year development cycle from Dan Smith himself, and is totally deserving of the price tag. There's an appreciated elegance to The Spectrum Retreat. I'm sure Dan Smith Studios is goin' places and most likely up from here.
Thanks to its appealing aesthetics and accessible mechanics, players will very much enjoy navigating through the mysterious game area and solving the obstacles until they reach the final floor.
Review in Portuguese | Read full review
The Spectrum Retreat is a valiant stab at a Portal-esque puzzler which largely pulls off what it sets out to achieve. It lacks the dynamite script and surgical timing of Valve's masterpiece, but the test chambers (sorry, ‘authentication challenges') withstand the comparison. If Gone Home's pace is a touch too navel-gazing for your liking, we'd heartily recommend a trip to The Penrose Hotel.
Narrative The Spectrum Retreat remains quite exciting and stands out from the standard "walking simulators", so that one is curious to see how the story goes on. Even the narrative offers some space for interpretation. Technically, the game is solid and does its job well, especially the soundtrack is very atmospheric and the speakers deliver a good performance. Fortunately, the English language version was kept here, but there are German subtitles. The Spectrum Retreat is for anyone who likes narrative games like Firewatch and can also start with puzzles.
Review in German | Read full review
Dan Smith's game is a perfect study material for any rookie game designer. It shows how to create an engaging story with clever gameplay mechanics, while being vague in terms of presentation and original at the same time.
Review in Polish | Read full review
The Spectrum Retreat is a refreshing independent game with some big ideas and ambition. It creates a truly compelling environment with excellent acting and narrative progression.
An original title with a split personality, half puzzle game and half walking simulator. Both parts are brilliantly developed, but their forced dichotomy breaks the rhythm of the game.
Review in Italian | Read full review
The Spectrum Retreats is an interesting and fun puzzle game. The best parts of the game are the color puzzles that lock and unlock panels that will allow you to move through the levels. It’s a well thought out and challenging game that will give you an estimated 5+ hours of fun.
The Spectrum Retreat is an interesting project, made by one person, which guarantees several hours of active brain work in exchange for a variety of emotions.
Review in Russian | Read full review
What makes The Spectrum Retreat special is how its puzzles are equal parts accessible and challenging. As a consequence, what started off as a laser-focused story line soon ebbs in favor of the puzzles themselves. The spectacle is in the vivid scale of its presentation, with narrative beats to keep things interesting.
The Spectrum Retreat is a solid puzzler, with an immersive narrative undercurrent adding depth and emotion to a genre where such things are normally lacking. Look past certain repetitive sections and you'll find a title offering value for money and an enjoyable challenge.
The Spectrum Retrait combines the mysterious story with a puzzle system that focuses on thinking, trial and error. and that system allows us to look at it from a different side.
Review in Turkish | Read full review
The Spectrum Retreat is an emotional narrative combined with enjoyable puzzle solving using unique gameplay mechanics. The story is well-told, and I was amazed at how the simulated world begins to feel broken the closer you get to the truth as if you are rejected this reality. The mannequin-like staff works beautifully with the style of the hotel, except the couple of times where they suddenly appear behind you. The backtracking does slow down the pacing of the game, and I do wish there was some rewind function for some of the longer puzzles, as having to restart them is a bit of a nuisance. Considering that the puzzles may have dozens of interactable blocks to mess around with, I do understand it may be asking too much without having to overhaul the puzzle system.
As far as hybrid genres go, this is an interesting one. The combination of walking simulator and the integration of the puzzles is very well done, while the drip feed of the story is steady enough to keep your focus, driving you through the small niggles that arise throughout a play through. The whole thing is tied together with some great voice acting and great music. Overall, The Spectrum Retreat grabs hold and refuses to let go, while its clever combination of pure puzzling and story telling makes for an enjoyable and unique experience throughout.
The Spectrum Retreat is a pleasant surprise. The colour coded puzzles are intelligently designed and present a decent challenge, while the Penrose hotel is an absorbing backdrop that creates an unsettling atmosphere. While it's a shame more isn't made of this setting, the game's storytelling, design, and puzzle solving is a compelling mix, and for less than a tenner, provides a unique experience across its six-hour runtime.
But even though the Penrose Hotel quickly becomes boring to walk through, there's still a lot to like – from the art direction to the story and the often-wonderful puzzle design.
Overall, the entire story felt a bit hollow. I had no reason to connect to anything in the game. Nothing in the story was explored in depth. The hotel as a set-piece was wasted. The whole narrative was shallow. The game shows potential, but it is so incohesive and unimpressive that it flounders as a whole.
The Spectrum Retreat is full of good ideas and mysteries, but Dan Smith's first game is way too linear while playing the walking simulator card to please every amateur of the genre. Too many clues are given about the delicate subject being treated, but the core mecanics of dozen of color-based puzzles might be good enough to give it a go. With just a bit more coherence between the gameplay and the narrative, it could have been memorable.
Review in French | Read full review
The puzzles in The Spectrum Retreat are the best kind of puzzles. The kind of puzzles that initially make you think, ‘Hey, Dan Smith, these puzzles are kind of easy. Any chance you could make these puzzles a bit harder for us pro gamers over here? I don’t know if you know this, but I’m kind of great at puzzles’. The same kind of puzzles that, ten minutes later, have you thinking, ‘Oh hey Dan Smith. I was only kidding earlier about all that pro gamer stuff. Any chance of a hint or ten?’
The Spectrum Retreat is a fun game that doesn't outstay its welcome. The failed attempt to reconcile the narrative and gameplay aspects may leave the player seeing each as an obstacle. The voice acting, soundtrack, and visuals are well executed but not enough to elevate the game quality.
Review in Portuguese | Read full review
At its core, The Spectrum Retreat has a tragic story about a family cast aside by the American health care system. That much becomes apparent early on, but the finer details are hidden behind too many consecutive puzzles. There's a narrative worth hearing here, but the cadence at which it's told is just a little bit off. That, mixed with the good-but-not-outstanding puzzle design, keeps The Spectrum Retreat from being a truly great stay.
Taken in small doses, the game can be a fun, challenging experience – as long as you step away before frustration sets in. And if those issues could be fixed in time for a sequel, I'd be up for a second visit to The Spectrum Retreat.
Overall, I would have to say not really. The puzzles themselves are this game's saving grace. I didn't have a bad time playing it, but I can't recommend it in good faith. If you're a huge puzzle fan, like me, there's something here for you. But in all honesty, there are plenty of puzzle games out there that wouldn't come with this big of an asterisk. Go play those. All of that said, a player's reaction to the narrative and hub world is going to be the big deciding factor for whether or not you think this game is good. The narrative and gameplay combined together detract from the experience of one another, resulting in something decent at best and eye-roll inducing at worst. The Spectrum Retreat really went for it, but a swing and a miss is still a miss.
If you dig in and look, you can find a wealth of games, both old and new, trying to be the next Portal. Games like The Spectrum Retreat try for a little more, which makes it all the more devastating when they miss the mark so completely. With a by the numbers story and simplistic puzzles that frustrate rather than fascinate, there’s nothing here worth recommending. This game is competent but unremarkable, and that’s really the nicest thing you can say.
The Spectrum Retreat is a perfectly serviceable puzzler, but it rarely rises above mediocrity. There's potential within the ground of the Penrose Hotel, but it's never capitalized on.