The Spectrum Retreat on PC

  • Strong story delivery for excellent roleplaying experience
  • Complicated puzzles that are frustrating enough to be rewarding
  • Voice acting
  • Not enough interactable items in the hotel
  • Puzzle sections felt never ending
  • A test of compassion, can be emotionally stressful
Gameplay - 9
Graphics - 7
Audio - 8
Replayability - 4
Controls - 9

The Spectrum Retreat, developed by Dan Smith Studios and published by Ripstone Ltd, is listed as a first person view puzzle/strategy genre. This puzzle game offers a deep narrative experience, which seems to be overlooked, that crosses with the genre of psychological horror. While game play is straight forward, without offering much incentive to play multiple times, there are many great reasons why you will want to pick this up at least once to try it out. The beginning offers no information about why I’m lying in the bed of this room, so I set myself a goal to figure it out.

To many of us, the hotel in which the character awakens is a dream come true. All of the other rooms are vacant and the staff is made entirely of AI robots that learn my needs and are set in a routine. On the first morning, I’m invited to breakfast by a host that delivers a personal wake up call. I must travel to the first floor, but the elevator is broken, leaving me free to roam around and explore the first floor of the hotel, which includes a ballroom and theatre. Moving around is easy on the keyboard using WASD, spacebar to jump if needed, and left click on the mouse to interact. Not much was offered to interact with but having more than necessary might have taken away from the experience. I speak with members of the robotic staff and pick up little blue cubes that detail the creation of the hotel. After breakfast, the plot of the game is revealed through a mysterious phone call from a woman named Cooper. She tells me that I’m being held against my will and wants to help me escape.


The plot thickens. The hotel is not quite the paradise we first believed. I follow Cooper’s instructions to take the elevator, but it is locked down from being used. This is where I find my way into the puzzle section of the game, to solve a series of color sequences that hack the system for access to the next floor. Learning the concept of the puzzle is simple. I possess a device that takes on the color of a cube, and as long as the device is the same color as the barrier I can pass through. Many of the paths are blocked by a series of these barriers and require plenty of forethought on which cubes need to be what color to succeed. The combinations and possibilities for challenges using this concept are endless, and The Spectrum Retreat fully takes advantage. More time is spent solving these puzzles than in the hotel.

The Spectrum Retreat

I mentioned The Spectrum Retreat offers a narrative, and I give a standing ovation for how the story is delivered. On the first day the hotel seems perfectly normal, for instance, the paintings on the wall are all beautiful landscapes. The second day is when the hotel begins to unravel. The landscapes are replaced with blurry images of a happily married couple, a newborn infant, and a child holding hands with their parent, for just a few examples. When the holographic, glitchy furniture that appeared to belong in a child’s room showed up, I knew I was in over my head. Sections of a home begin to appear like this all throughout the hotel and the puzzle areas. In reading the documents laid out on tables of these images, the pieces of the character’s background began to take shape. Alex’s story about his son is not an easy one to swallow.

The Spectrum Retreat 1

The detail in the graphics is where The Spectrum Retreat shines. The sporadically appearing furniture could be a figment of my imagination as I can walk through it, but the wavy lines let me know it is a holographic image. When walking up to these homely scenes the entire camera view becomes distorted, making it obvious that this object is not part of the hotel experience. All of the graphics are crisp and clean. Outside of the puzzle, nothing moves, but the parts that do are smooth.

The Spectrum Retreat did not boast any fantastical music but that enhanced the eerie nature of this hotel, empty of all but my own soul. The voice acting, however, for the male and female AI robots and for Cooper, was done exceedingly well. The clicking sound of a keyboard in the background of the phone calls with Cooper was a nice effect for a while. I felt as if she were behind a desk at some remote location using advanced technology to help me out. My character did not speak, which truly brought home the roleplaying experience and deepened the emotion involved with the story. The only other notable sound effects were in the puzzles, when changing the color of the device and passing through the barriers. An acknowledge beep helped me recognize when access was granted, and a buzz told me when I was trying to get through a barrier that did not match the color of my device.

I definitely got more than expected from The Spectrum Retreat. While the gameplay is linear, I enjoyed its simplicity. I was totally caught off guard by the emotional experience caused by the realism in the delivery of the story. There’s no doubt players will spend a ton of time solving the puzzles, but helping Alex remember why he is in the hotel will keep you going. The story is powerful, and unless I want to challenge myself to make it through without weeping I doubt I will play again. Oh, there are two possible endings. Choose wisely.

Written by
Writing is my passion. Gaming is my hobby. Combining the two just makes sense. That's why I'm fortunate to be a part of GamingLyfe. My favorite game series is The Legend of Zelda. I'm partial to a good adventure game with a story that latches on with its villainous claws and refuses to release me.

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