The Spectrum Retreat (Review) Nintendo Switch

The Spectrum Retreat (Review) Nintendo Switch
Review Score:

The Spectrum Retreat is a first-person, 3D puzzle game that spent nearly five years in development. The game’s developer, Dan Smith, first introduced an early build of TSR during the Game Making Awards of 2016, where his title won the much-coveted ‘Game Making Award’ from the British Academy of Film and Television Arts. After spending multiple years in development, The Spectrum Retreat is finally available for the Nintendo Switch. 

As the game’s unnamed protagonist, the player finds themselves inside a sterile-looking resort that is operated by a group of faceless robots. The first few minutes of TSR is spent exploring a hotel room; acquiring a cellphone; and then answering a knock at the front door, where an automated droid announces that ‘breakfast’ is ready. From there, the player leaves their room and ventures to the bottom floor of the resort to consume their pre-made meal. This is when the game’s premise takes shape. 

After witnessing a Matrix-like visual glitch, a mysterious female voice begins speaking through the player’s cellphone. She explains – in cryptic detail – that the resort is nothing more than a ‘prison’ that holds people captive. Assisted by the enigmatic woman, the player is sent through the resort in search of a special door, which happens to be the only exit to freedom.

Gameplay involves progressing through a series of ‘rooms’ by solving a variety of color-based puzzles. Some rooms have color barriers that block the way, and they can’t be deactivated until the player ‘absorbs’ the right color. This is achieved by finding a red block somewhere inside the environment, and siphoning its color by pressing the Right Trigger button. After passing through the first barrier, the player must then find a ‘white’ block to pass through the next. And this only during the first 10-15 minutes of gameplay. As the game progresses, the player is faced with more daunting puzzles, including hallways with different colored floors (which the player can fall through if the right color hasn’t been consumed), and claustrophobic rooms with only small openings in the walls. 

TSR tends to progress rather slowly due to its mechanics, which limit the player to walking and absorbing colors. Since there is no way to run or jump, it’s difficult to pass through some of the larger rooms without the experience feeling redundant. Plus, the overall experience feels very linear, as the female narrator pushes the player along through each room.

Due to the aforementioned flaws, The Spectrum Retreat for Nintendo Switch is a difficult game to recommend, especially to hardcore puzzle game fans. However, if TSR is treated like a ‘casual’ game – and the expectations are low headed in – then the final outcome will be more rewarding, and less disappointing.

Mike Pittaro
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Developer: Dan Smith Studios
Publisher: Ripstone Ltd.
ESRB: T (Teen)
Price: $12.99

The Spectrum Retreat Official Website:
https://www.nintendo.com/games/detail/the-spectrum-retreat-switch

Review Score
Graphics
The graphic quality seems to vary based on the location.
Sound
Decent voice acting compliments the eerie sound track.
Gameplay
While challenging, some of the puzzles seem repetitive.
Overall
Casual gamers may appreciate The Spectrum Retreat's slow pace and odd, color-based puzzles.
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