This mysterious hotel tries to keep a dark secret locked inside.
During Gamescom 2018, I got to hang out with the good people of Ripstone Publishing. They have a track record of signing interesting games that would be a good fit for consoles. Take their new game, The Spectrum Retreat, for example. A first person puzzler made by 2016 Young Designer winner Dan Smith, set within the mysterious chambers of an unknown hotel. The people living there relive the same day over and over again, and it’s up to the player to find out what's wrong.
You soon find out that you're actually held against your will, which provides the need to escape. It really isn't as easy as it sounds, considering you don't really known where to go. Your mind is scrambled mess. In order to figure out a means of escape, you’ll need to ask around and get a better sense of the surroundings. While I wasn't sure what to do with the information provided in the demo, I had the feeling I was being mislead. I can imagine that the real underlying elements won't be revealed until I actually play the full experience.
As far as the puzzles are concerned, they are represented as authentication challenges. In a first person perspective, it will see you absorbing colors from blocks and constantly trading it between other blocks. By stringing this correctly, the barriers will fade away, allowing you further access to the current floor. It really isn't unlike a maze, though it feels a lot more interactive than one. You need to take your time and think how the pieces fit, which is honestly quite entertaining.
The few floors I got to try constantly change up the way you deal with the blocks. Initially, it is really straightforward. You simply move the color back and forth. After a while, however, you will notice that the game wants to lay patterns one by one. It requires a very sharp eye for detail, something that more experienced puzzle game players will fully enjoy. That isn't to say that it isn't easy to pick up, but the challenge grows way quicker than you might expect. It requires way more wit to see you pass through the cracks.
The Spectrum Retreat left me wanting more, and that is a positive. The whole experience has a very uncanny valley feel, which married with the gameplay, which makes for a puzzle game that stands alone. From what I played, I don't think it’s going to necessarily be easy, but I'm sort of okay with that. There is a challenge lurking that I can't wait to dig further into. The Spectrum Retreat should be releasing very soon on Nintendo Switch.