Published on September 17th, 2018 | by Joseph Saulnier0
The Spectrum Retreat
If I were to ask you,”What is the most overused story-telling device in any form of entertainment,” what would you say it is? Well, probably any number of things, but for the purposes of this review we’ll say that it’s the antagonist waking up someplace unfamiliar and not knowing who they are. The destination of this path can be different, but the road is always the same: find out who you are, what your tragic past is, and escape. Not all games like this are inherently bad, but not all are great to play. It’s the story-telling and gameplay beyond this that really make or break these games.
Enter The Spectrum Retreat. You should have already guessed what part you play, but to lay it out… You wake up in an old, art deco building. You don’t know who, or where, you are. Robots of questionable design are everywhere looking more like dapper hockey goalies than the creep factor I think they were aiming for. A lady, Cooper, tries to help you out, but you end up repeating the same day on loop over and over, a la the loveable classic Groundhog Day with Bill Murray. Controls were standard, but pretty solid for the game. Graphics were decent with an architecture and decorating style pleasing to the eye and it never really gets old. The real fun comes with the puzzles.
Gameplay was is pretty much exploration of the hotel and puzzles. It reminded me a little of Myst and its many predecessors. It works pretty well here as puzzles get more difficult as the game progresses, and exploration is fun in the environment. The game really shines once you move past the tired story-telling device. Music, which can be a nuisance in games such as this, does a really good job of blending into the game, growing where it needs to and devolving when it doesn’t. The voice acting can be a little distracting as they don’t ever seem to hit the mark aimed for in terms of the vibe and feel.
There were a few bugs here and there, but nothing that can’t be patched out and I’m sure is already being worked on. But what we have on our hands here is a real masterpiece considering it comes from a one-man developer, Dan Smith. It makes me forget the overused amnesia device and really enjoy what a single man can put together. Especially having won a BAFTA in 2016 for the game. Way to go, Dan!
Overall, The Spectrum Retreat is a notch above most of the amnesia games out there, but still has some things to work on, primarily in the presentation of the dapper goalies in both visuals and voices. Beyond that, the game was fun and entertaining. Definitely worth a play through at least once, especially with some of the better puzzles I have seen in some time.
4 stars out of 5
DISCLAIMER: a free copy of The Spectrum