Spectrum – Review (PC)

Giana Sisters’ main mechanic is the ability to switch between worlds in order to traverse the many puzzles and… Oh wait, wrong game. Give me a sec. Iota’s main mechanic is the ability to switch colours in order to traverse the many puzzles and… Why do I keep doing this!? SLiP, nope. All Color Will Be Banished from the World Should You Fail to Climb This Endless Tower, nope. Wait, ah ha!
screencapspectrum
Spectrum’s main mechanic is the ability to switch colours in order to traverse the many puzzles and platforms that litter its world. This review may sound a bit disinterested and that’s because the idea of changing colour to navigate puzzles in a platformer is as stagnant an idea as being a soldier in the good ol’ US of A. Now, this isn’t to claim it’s a bad game (those accusations come later), but if the developer had really wanted to make something unique they would have thought of a better selling point.

In the last paragraph we used the term litter when referring to the platforms and the reason for this is that the developer has literally dropped them without any thought of flow or spacing. On far too many occasions we would overshoot a platform because the “puzzle” was to break the flow of our jumps, take two steps back and then continue. This led to frustrations and a general feeling of disinterest because the main reason most of us play platformers is to go fast and think fast. Not to be stuck on a moving platform that crawls along to meet another that could have been positioned much better had the game been play tested.

The other main premise for the game is the idea that the character and their brain have been separated — something that the gameplay mimics all too well. This sounds interesting, but the story is poorly written and tries to lead the player on with subtle clues to the character’s past, which is something that just didn’t endear itself to us as we weren’t quite sure if we were a boy, girl or robot. The final nail in the coffin was the use of emoticons to convey emotion in what had been up till that point a purely text-based narrative.

In Spectrum‘s favour it does feature beautiful background art which it delivers as panels in a comic book. To go with this the game also features an original score for each level that is actually rather good and fits the game well. But the unique style is immediately fumbled as the player passes over the boundaries of the comic book, defeating the idea of the player being inside the story and platforms switch between fitting the terrain (One level had nice rock outcrops made of the grey colour) to detracting from the look of the level (Red and yellow logs). Some time to make the platforms fit the levels would have made this a much more fun experience but instead leaves us with the feeling that the game was rushed and had no real passion behind it.

Unfortunately Spectrum has few unique ideas and is weaker than all its competitors. At $4.99 we can’t recommend it unless you have a thing for one man development teams.

  • Matthew Hardy

    Ouch!

  • Mido Basim

    Hi Danny, I’m the developer of Spectrum. I respect your review and opinion of the game but I just wanted to clear the bit about the game design.
    The level design was done on purpose. The description of the game clearly states the game is meant to challenge the players’ patience. Not everyone was going to be happy with this decision and I was fully aware of it. So it wasn’t ‘lazy design’.

    • http://www.dannynat20.wordpress.com Danny Boyle

      Why would you want to challenge your player’s patience like that? Of those who I showed the game to, only one was able to make it through a level as they got too frustrated and turned it off.

      If you think it’ll work then that’s fair enough but without knowing your intentions the design felt like there was little thought in it.