First-person puzzler The Spectrum Retreat is out today

The Spectrum Retreat

First-person puzzle games with vague Portal inspirations are common enough, but The Spectrum Retreat looks to be an especially polished and stylish take on the sub-genre. Thematically, it’s about escaping from a creepy sci-fi hotel staffed by faceless robots with the aid of a mysterious benefactor on the phone. Mechanically, it’s about stealing and using colours, and it’s out today. Below, a rather sinister launch trailer.

Your main puzzle-solving power in The Spectrum Retreat is absorbing and expelling colour. Within the puzzle-chambers of the game are big brightly coloured blocks. You can draw colour out of any of them within sight, and splat it onto white blocks elsewhere in order to make barriers and bridges passable or solid, although you can only hold one colour at a time. It’s the kind of puzzle that sounds simple on paper but is exactly what I get tripped up by, overlooking some obvious puzzle-piece or line of sight that everyone else picks up on.

The Spectrum Retreat has some history. Starting life as a free prototype game called Spectrum, its sole developer – Dan Smith – won a BAFTA Young Game Designer’s award for his work on it back in 2016. He was only 18 at the time, and in just two more years has transformed it into something almost indistinguishable from a big-budget studio production. I’ve said it before, but the stuff that lone or otherwise small indie developers can achieve now is amazing compared to just a decade ago.

The Spectrum Retreat is out now on Steam for £10/13€/$13.


  1. aircool says:

    Oooh. I love puzzle games I do.

  2. RobbieTrout says:

    Looks really good! I’ll keep an eye out in hopes it will come out in a format I can use. (A non-Steam PC person here, and Xbox 360.)

    The combination of creepy hotel and faceless robot is reminding me strongly of the Sexy Brutale, but I suppose this is sheer coincidence. Combined with my passion for the Sexy Brutale colouring my thoughts.

  3. oyog says:

    I’m not sure any game will impress me with use of color as much as The Witness has but those shifting blocks of color were certainly pleasing.


  4. bill says:

    The trailer could do a bit more with actually showing the mechanics. Is it like The Void?

    • sub-program 32 says:

      I don’t think *anything* could really be like The Void tbqh. In any case this is a more traditional puzzle game, kinda divided into ‘creepy hotel exploration’ and ‘colour puzzle’ segments, with the latter being about swapping around different colours that act as keys through certain barriers and limit your ability to interface with certain level elements according to matching colour. The two halves aren’t very neatly tied together but it looks like a pretty cool game regardless.

  5. fuzzyfuzzyfungus says:

    “Who is number #FFFFFF?”

  6. Linkblade says:

    I really like these trailers where you get to know nothing about the gameplay and there is only a 2 second cut of every possible part of the level map…NOT!

    Anyway, I still need to play The Talos Principle. I cannot give myself the permission to buy a game that is equal to a game I own and haven’t played yet. That is, I don’t even know what this game is about ^^ so not interested for now.

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