What’s this? The Spectrum Retreat? Another puzzle game chosen by Alice L? She would never, she’s not that predictable! Well, wait. If the slendermenesque robots aren’t enough to hook you, then how about knowing it was created by one guy, for five years, and he started it when he was 15. How impressive is that? It also won the BAFTA Young Game Designer Game Making Award (ages 15-18). I don’t know about you but I have never won a BAFTA, never mind winning one between the ages of 15 and 18.
The Spectrum Retreat is a cross between a standard (ish) puzzle game and a story-driven, mystery game. Two of my favourite genres. I guess in a way you could say it gives you two different types of puzzle. One is figuring out why you are in the Penrose Hotel, and the other is traversing real puzzles. Puzzles that use colour. It reminds me of Q.U.B.E 2, and I did genuinely struggle with a lot of the puzzles I came across.
There is a distinct lack of animation with the hotel staff, but that only adds to its overall eerieness. Like a lot of puzzle games, you have an aid: a woman called Cooper on the other end of a round “phone”. She says she’s there to help, but can you trust her? The hotel itself is unreliable, ever different in subtle ways. You cannot leave, sometimes the lift doesn’t work, and you appear to be the only one there. You’ve been here a while, judging by your calendar, but every day appears to be almost identical. The puzzles themselves are tricky to understand at the beginning, but once you figure out the colour-swapping you’ll get to grips with it quite quickly.
There are glitchy, sad tableaux into your character’s past that help you understand just who you are as the mystery unfolds. Do you like your character? Is Cooper reliable? Who put you in this hotel? There are so many questions that need to be answered before you can feel like you have truly explored the Penrose Hotel and its many puzzle rooms.