I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with puzzle and dexterity games.
I hate the repetitive nature of learning the pattern, using mind force powers and needing fingers of the gods in order to get through a level at the umpteenth time, before nearly having a heart attack as the very last hurdle strikes.
I do however love that a puzzle game is gaming in its most purest form, harking back to the wild west days of the ‘80s, as you are tasked with guiding something to an endpoint. There is no worry of a huge story arc, there is no deep character development. It’s just you, your skill, memory and perseverance. But which side of the love/hate camp does Spectrum fall into?
Spectrum is promising to be “a unique platformer set in a stunning abstract world” and I think that statement is true as this game does exactly what it says on the tin. You guide a sort of blob with eyes and a tail, that I would like to call – either rightly or wrongly – an intergalactic black worm, and it’s the worm’s job to get itself from the start of a maze to the end. Easy huh? You’d be very much mistaken in thinking that, my friend.
Everything starts off all nice and easy, with Spectrum’s first world showing you how you can move the worm across a white landscape to the swirling black hole endpoint. Along the way are some platforms to manoeuvre over and under. In order to do this you need to utilise a skill that sees you float in the air or a dive-bombing skill that pushes you downwards. And that’s pretty much it. The rest is just a mixture of skill, timing and some good luck on your part. The tricky bit, of course, is when the maze gets denser and everything found within is out to kill you. Coloured blocks will spin, fly at you, chase you and generally turn your senses into a whirlwind of emotional overload. You have three lives per level, but should you be able to find it within yourself to collect little white glowing orbs, these will replenish your health and allow for completion of a level.
The difficulty spike in Spectrum – yep, there is one – hits hard around the third world, after you get roughly 20 levels in. When you take into account Spectrum comes with 80 odd puzzles, it won’t take long before the challenge becomes very hard. Thankfully, for the most part, it is so interesting and simple to play that you don’t mind trying again and again. Should you be able to bring your best ninja skills to the table, a level could take you 30 seconds to complete, or like me, you could be sitting there attempting the same thing over and over again until it is cracked. You won’t ever get tired of the gameplay though and that says a thousand things about the game that words can’t. For the nutcases out there – those who love to perfect and complete everything – then the Olympic sized achievements will prove that you really are a god amongst all humans.
Spectrum looks great too with simple lines, beautiful isometric graphics, and some great colour palettes. It uses all of its tools well, without being fancy and flash, and delivers a stunning world that is as bold as it is abstract. Spectrum also comes with an amazing trance-y ambient soundtrack that works brilliantly with the game and is a delight to listen to. It really is amazing.
Overall as much as my love/hate relationship with these games go, I really do enjoy a good puzzle experience every now and again. I love the opportunity to be able to have a quick go for five minutes when time allows – if only so I can attempt to get past that level that’s been bugging for the last month. You don’t have to invest in long loading times, or a massive cut scene in order to get back to where you left off and Spectrum is just a quick fix from puzzle heaven.
The world it lives in is beautiful, the stunning soundtrack is great and even though I think the price could be a tad cheaper, I’m splitting hairs here because if you’re a fan of this genre and love a challenge then Spectrum is the game for you.