Intriguing game has its moments, but flubs story section
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.
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.
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
An interesting puzzler that does not surprises, but does almost everything ok.
Review in Spanish | Read full review
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 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
Whilst The Spectrum Retreat is an enjoyable, well-paced puzzler, it never quite hits the heights of other similarly styled puzzle games.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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 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.