The Cambridge Geek

The Spectrum Retreat

Time for another puzzle game. This one is in the vein of things like Portal, Talos, the Witness, first person puzzlers where a major component of the game is walking around and collecting various things to solve problems.

But first, a little background. You're a resident of The Spectrum Retreat, an incredibly technologically advanced holiday destination, all in virtual reality. You've been plugged in to a capsule, and given an all expenses paid hotel stay, but it's looking possible you weren't entirely sure you wanted it.

Interesting decor for a hotel.

While you're enjoying your first day, you get a phone call from Cooper, a VR technician, who begins to let you in on the fact that you might be trapped here. She tells you that the system will become aware of any attempt to leave, and might be a bit keen of fighting back.

Which doesn't half make you fear the creepy faceless robots who are standing all over the place, talking out of toneless speakers. They are responsible for both the overall ominous atmosphere and a couple of painful jumpscares.

So. Many. Doors.

In order to get out, it's necessary for you to complete a series of authentication challenges. Or puzzles. For every floor of the hotel (5), there's a bunch of puzzles you need to solve, in order to get yourself back to the plot.

The basic principle of the puzzles is that you can only pass through doors which are the same colour as your handheld device. Your device can pick up colours from handy blocks positioned about, and you can swap and change as you like.

There's various tricks involved, such as rotating blocks, pedestals which will allow you to permanently overwrite colours, if you don't have the right number of them, and jumping, which I wasn't expecting. Bit odd to transition from slow, thoughtful shifting of colours to having to leap into a precise position in order to make a long shot to a tiny target some distance away.

Other aspects are added, such as teleporting and gravity shifting, though it doesn't add up to as much complexity as you might imagine. It's mostly a slog. Especially annoying when you find yourself in an unwinnable position and have to restart, particularly on the longer levels.

Some of the level design is really clever.

The puzzles are mostly interesting, and get more complex as you advance through them, though I did occasionally find myself getting a little bored. It's possible there are too many in a row, as they feel a somewhat soulless. The final level of the game intermingles the story and the puzzles, which I feel the rest could have benefited from.

Remember the fun bit of Portal 2, when you had GLADOS installed on a potato? They could have dome something similar here. Instead, the story and the puzzles are very separate, and the story is certainly the most compelling part of this. The background information about what lead you into the hotel is drip-fed nicely, with infrequent notes in the puzzles, but your memories and the impact they have on the hotel system are much more powerful. And it goes pleasantly dark.

If you're a fan of puzzles, you can kill a few hours with this. Good plot, slightly better than average puzzles, especially the final level.

Score 4

Tagged: Game Puzzle First person Average difficulty PC