Quantum Spectre



Let lasers guide the way in researcher-created puzzler.

What parents need to know

Positive messages

There's a very thin plot about saving a laboratory from creatures, but too little narrative to matter.

Positive role models

There aren't any characters.

Ease of play

The game has clear instructions that cover the controls and goals. After mastering the basics, the game slowly introduces new types of tools and mechanics. Bouncing arrows intially tell the player what to click on, where to put objects, and how to win. 

Not applicable
Not applicable
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Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable
Privacy & safety

No privacy and safety concerns. Game activities are recorded by the researchers/designers, and players are not given the option to opt out. There's also a request for feedback after playing. The most personal information requested is country and zip code (if US). Though play data is collected, it's for research, and parents should have no issues regarding privacy.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Quantum Spectre is designed to help players understand and play with optics and light. It has no objectionable content, and is designed by researchers for learning. The puzzles grow increasingly more confounding and different reflective widgets get added every few levels. Kids should get a solid feel for how light can be reflected, bent, split, and combined, and there's plently of play time and challenge and all for free. And while the game is fun, it's also helping researchers learn about learning and to make better educational games. 

What kids can learn



  • physics


Thinking & Reasoning

  • problem solving
  • solving puzzles

Engagement, Approach, Support


The core task of directing lasers to targets lasts a snappy few minutes per level, and subsequent levels add enticing incremental additions like barriers, new mirrors, light splitters, and different-colored lights.   

Learning Approach

Players use light redirection to solve puzzles, so learning about light's properties is effectively embedded within play. Players can experiment but are incentivized to be efficient. A level creator would be a welcome addition.


The initial instructions are clear and understandable. The game falls short in the middle and late game challenges by leaving the player with no options to get help on a tricky level.  

What kids can learn



  • physics


Thinking & Reasoning

  • problem solving
  • solving puzzles

Kids can learn that they can reflect, refract, split, combine, and generally use anything shiny to bounce light beams. They won't get vocabulary from the game, but they will understand the basics of light physics. In a sense, they'll also have experience manipulating beams that will be informative when they encounter the terms later. Playing with laser beams is naturally fun, and the game stays true to that experience, offering players the same joy that researchers get in the lab.  

This Learning Rating review was written by Seann Dikkers

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What's it about?

There are little wiggly things called spectres trapped in blue tanks. They're about to break free and cause havoc, and the player's job is to solve puzzles -- using lasers -- to contain them. These multi-colored laser beams must be redirected toward targets using mirrors and other reflective surfaces.

Is it any good?


QUANTUM SPECTRE is fun -- addicting even -- and might have kids dreaming about little light beams. It has good pacing that adds new twists every few levels to keep things fresh and challenging. Kids of the right age should find themselves in the sweet spot -- just a step away from being stumped for a good portion of the game. That being said, there isn't a hint guide, walkthrough, or help mode. If a kid gets stuck, he or she will be really stuck. Solutions might pop up on YouTube, but until then it's a bit frustrating. (So if you've got the solution for level 2.9 pass it along!)  

Families can talk about...

  • Explore mirrors and focused light at home! Using a laser pointer and reflective surfaces (check the pots and pans for curved ones) you can set up a home version of a level from the game, or make a brand new one. 

  • Try to come up with a science fiction story that fits the game. How exactly does redirecting a laser beam help contain the dangerous spectres?  For younger kids, use Bobo Explores Light as inspiration.

  • If you like puzzle solving, check out our "Top Puzzle Apps for Kids". 

Game details

Platforms:Mac, Windows
Pricing structure:Free
Available online?Available online
Developer:EdGE @ TERC
Release date:January 1, 2012
Topics:Science and nature

This review of Quantum Spectre was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.


Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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