HomeReviews3.5/5 ReviewSpectrolite Review

Spectrolite Review

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Between its sci-fi atmosphere, parkour platforming, and electronic synthwave score, Spectrolite is an indie game with a style of its own. Its relentless but forgiving difficulty might be a barrier to entry for more casual audiences, but Spectrolite is rewarding enough for those who decide to spend a few hours zipping through cyberpunk cityscapes.

Spectrolite is a stylized first-person platformer in a futuristic neon world. The game’s handful of levels ask players to perform high-precision parkour moves in order to reach new areas. Several environmental powerups also allow for greater mobility with the ability to slow time, change direction, jump incredible distances, and run across walls. Occasionally peppered in throughout the campaign are speedrunning challenges that ask players to complete various sections in a restricted amount of time. This is where your mastery of Spectrolite truly gets put to the test.

spectrolite review 1
Spectrolite is a stylized first person platformer

To coincide with its retro arcade aesthetic and ‘80s-inspired soundtrack, Spectrolite is difficult. For me, this level of difficulty only occasionally drifts into the realm of frustration (your mileage may vary depending on how adept you are at tough-as-nails, precision platformers). The game typically left me feeling compelled to complete just one more run as I was sure the next attempt would be the one that I’d finally nail it (… it usually wasn’t, although, I would generally do better the next time). To help the game from feeling too exasperating, there are plenty of checkpoints throughout each level.

Like the game’s amazing soundtrack (which I’ll get to in a minute), there is a rhythm to Spectrolite, but it’s not one you’re likely able to jump in and jam with right away. While the game is very good at communicating what actions to take in order to navigate around obstacles, there are idiosyncrasies that required some trial and error before I felt as though I knew exactly what the game wanted me to do.

For example, wall-running on convex objects later in the game requires a bit of nuance. It isn’t explicitly explained, but the game would rather you glide across walls and various objects as opposed to directly running into them. Of course, this makes sense from a logical perspective, but it took several attempts to come to terms with these subtle differences – much less put them into practice.

spectrolite review 2
Get ready to feel the rhythm

Power jumps – which is another mid-to-late-game skill – require precise timing in order to pull off. It was another one of those instances in which nuance plays a major role. I would get into the rhythm of perfectly executing these jumps more often than not, but approximately one out of ten times, I would get tripped up for reasons I am still not aware enough of in order to fully articulate.

Those rewarding moments of finally pulling off a combo that seemed impossible minutes before are coupled with an amazing electronic score that mixes syncopated synth melodies and the occasional orchestral instruments. These elements work together to make impressive gameplay runs even more epic. The euphoric feeling of finally completing a particularly difficult section while the instrumental score soars is perhaps where Spectrolite is at its best.

The campaign itself is relatively short. I completed my playthrough in just a few sittings, but it’s the replayability that will likely give Spectrolite its legs. While not available at the time of review, Spectrolite is slated to release online leaderboards on Xbox; the game says as much upon completion.

Since the leaderboards weren’t available at the time, I can’t really speak to them, but I can imagine that speedrunning each level to trim seconds off of my time would feel far more satisfying than simply getting the hang of the mechanics. While I can’t help but commend a campaign that doesn’t overstay its welcome, I do wish there was a bit more of a ramp-up when it comes to difficulty.

spectrolite review 3
Fun in short sprints…

Perhaps a few more levels with more time to master the skills at a slower pace would serve the game better than a small handful of levels where the difficulty continuously spikes. Because of this breakneck pace, there was never a point where I felt particularly good at the game; rather, I would find myself to be just good enough to get through one section before being thrown into another area that I found to be even more harrowing than the last.

There aren’t too many ways this game deals with difficulty. There are no options to change these settings outside of removing the various time restrictions that occasionally pop up throughout Spectrolite’s time trials. Still, beating each of the levels can be quite strenuous, even without the time crunch. In an age where it feels as though robust accessibility settings should be expected rather than applauded, this omission is certainly felt. 

Spectrolite is fun in short sprints, but there isn’t yet enough content to give the game the legs it requires for marathon sessions. The parkour mechanics are tight and precise while the difficulty is staunch yet rewarding; just don’t expect too much in the way of accessibility options.

SUMMARY

Pros:
  • Amazing soundtrack
  • Cool cyberpunk aesthetic
  • Difficult, but rewarding to master
Cons:
  • Replayability is not there yet (... but stay tuned)
  • Lack of accessibility settings
Info:
  • Massive thanks for the free copy of the game, Dolores Entertainment
  • Formats - Xbox Series X|S (review), Xbox One, PS4, PS5, Switch, PC
  • Release date and price - 28 July 2023 | £11.74
Bobby Anhalt
Bobby Anhalt
Bobby has been an avid fan of video games since the '90s. While Bobby has a real soft spot for Metroidvanias and JRPGs, he is a true genre-agnostic gamer who will give just about any title a chance. The only thing he spends more time doing than playing games is writing and talking about them. He has been covering the gaming industry for several major online publications since 2015.
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<b>Pros:</b> <ul> <li>Amazing soundtrack</li> <li>Cool cyberpunk aesthetic</li> <li>Difficult, but rewarding to master</li> </ul> <b>Cons:</b> <ul> <li>Replayability is not there yet (... but stay tuned)</li> <li>Lack of accessibility settings</li> </ul> <b>Info:</b> <ul> <li>Massive thanks for the free copy of the game, Dolores Entertainment</li> <li>Formats - Xbox Series X|S (review), Xbox One, PS4, PS5, Switch, PC <li>Release date and price - 28 July 2023 | £11.74</li> </ul>Spectrolite Review
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