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Game Review

About 10 years back, a quirky, wry-humored video game called Portal popped up. And the word popped is appropriate, since that title was all about flexing your spatial-logic skills in a series of teleportation challenges. You'd step in here and pop out way over there, over and over.

The game was fun, challenging, often surprising, and, but for a bit of T-rated story content, pretty friendly in the family room. (And its 2011 follow-up, E10+-rated Portal 2 was even more accessible to younger players.)

The Spectrum Retreat feels very much like a game that kinda wants to pop into that beloved Portal slot.

But that's easier said than done.

Breakfast Is Served, if You Please

The game commences with your first-person character waking up in a luxurious hotel. The place is all elegant angles and sweeping staircases, polished marble and exclusive service. Oh, and robots. Lots of well-dressed, mannequin-like robots. Once you crawl out of bed, you get a knock at the door and are given a wake-up call from a natty little robo butler in tie and tails who invites you to a breakfast spread.

It's the kind of place you might react to with a hearty, "Sign me up!" if you got an invite. That is, until you realized that the Penrose Hotel is actually a pretty creepy place—a barren resort devoid of any other human presence. And when you receive a mysterious call from a woman named Cooper—ominously stating that you're being held hostage, that you have lost your memory and that you're in need of help—it cements that latter impression firmly into place.

Is this place really a prison? Or is it all an illusion? Is the British woman on the phone a friend? Or a liar? Are you even … alive?

Those questions quickly fill your head. Then it's up to you to seek out hidden clues in the resort's deserted hallways and dining halls, slowly piecing together your memories as you make your way through level after level of puzzle-solving missions.

And this is where the game's Portal-like elements come into play.

Clinical Color Captures

In color-dotted levels that look like a blend between a sterile lab, a sci-fi dream world and a rat-like maze, your perplexed protagonist uses a small communication device of sorts to, well, manipulate colors. You suck colors out of various cubes and use them to pass through barriers or certain walkways of the same hue.

Or you can trade colors, making this block orange and that block blue, in order to make your way past a complicated series of obstacles. From there, the puzzles become more and more intricate, challenging and multi-dimensional in a world-tipping fashion.

Now, even as a guy who loves that kind of stuff, these puzzles began feeling repetitive and nearly clinical in their approach after a while. Almost like I was taking an IQ test.

Take the Portal to This Retreat?

As the narrative progresses, you'll gradually unlock hidden memories that reveal a somber story about a loved one's illness and death. Along the way, we also have politics and intrigue to grapple with.

There's a possible murder in the narrative mix, too. And while we never see any of the deadly things afoot, we do hear about them. And speaking of that, we also hear occasional uses of the s-word and exclamations of "h---," "d--n" and "crap."

Those language issues are the biggest potential content spoilers in this T-rated game. So anyone looking for more Portal-like fun needs to be aware that this pseudo knockoff offers a slightly edgier experience than the more family-friendly franchise that perhaps helped to inspire it.

Positive Elements

Spiritual Content

Sexual Content

Violent Content

Crude or Profane Language

Drug and Alcohol Content

Other Negative Elements

Conclusion

Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

Christian Beliefs

Other Belief Systems

Authority Roles

Profanity/Violence

Kissing/Sex/Homosexuality

Discussion Topics

Additional Comments/Notes

Episode Reviews

Credits

Rating

Readability Age Range

Genre

Puzzle

Author

Cast

Director

Distributor

Network

Performance

Record Label

Platform

Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PC

Publisher

Dan Smith Studios

Released

July 10, 2018

On Video

Year Published

Awards

Reviewer

Bob Hoose

We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

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