Parents' Guide to

The Spectrum Retreat

By Chad Sapieha, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 10+

Challenging first-person puzzler has an emotional story.

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Clearly inspired by games like Portal and Quantum Conundrum, this challenging, narrative-driven first-person puzzler is no walk in the park. The Spectrum Retreat's brainteasers start off simple enough, revealing solutions through trial and error even if you don't understand the principles behind them. But it doesn't take long for them to become harder and more complex, forcing players to carefully scrutinize their environment for hidden ways to get colors where they need to go. The puzzle concepts aren't entirely original, and there's perhaps too much running around to place colors in their proper position, but that doesn't keep these conundrums from being stimulating or delivering a sense of satisfaction when they're successfully solved. They're the highlight of the game.

The often emotional story has potential to be compelling, too, but its telling is awkward and oddly disconnected from the puzzles. Time spent exploring the hotel, where players have to convince the robot overlords that everything is normal and they're still in control, is a bit dull, with long intervals spent backtracking through uninteresting cookie-cutter hallways as you figure out how to access new floors. The exposition that takes place here is too sparse and too removed from the puzzles to really drive the story forward. But more engaging are the occasional bits of narrative that come while solving puzzles -- like stumbling across a random table full of medical bills, putting together pieces of the character's past. But even these moments feel weirdly stapled onto the puzzles rather than a natural and organic part of them. The ideas are engaging, but the seams connecting everything need a little more covering. There are some great puzzles and a topical story in The Spectrum Retreat; just don't expect everything to bind together neatly and efficiently.

Game Details

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