Tag Archives: Ripstone Games

The Spectrum Retreat review

Dan Smith was the winner of the 2016 YGD BAFTA award for his prototype puzzle game which has evolved into The Spectrum Retreat, which has now had it’s full release onto Xbox One, PS4, Steam and Nintendo Switch, and published by Ripstone games. The Spectrum Retreat puts your player into a mysterious hotel, staffed by human-like robots, from where you must work out its secrets.

Soon after waking for the first time in the hotel, the player is introduced to Cooper, a voice on the other end of a hidden phone, who informs you that you are being held against your will in the hotel, and that she will help you to escape if you follow her instructions. You then find yourself exploring the limited confines of the hotel searching for clues to get through a locked door. Once the door is opened, puzzles await. These puzzles consist of rooms with coloured blocks and coloured gates. To get through the gates you must hold the correct block and you can only hold one at a time. This leads to much to-ing and fro-ing in order to get your movements in the right sequence, so you can escape and move to the next puzzle. As you proceed the puzzles get more difficult and as you move through the hotel floors some new mechanics are introduced in the form of coloured teleporters and blocks that rotate the game space through ninety degrees. The game is very reminiscent of The Turing Test and Portal, so if you like those titles then The Spectrum Retreat will be right up your street.

The puzzles themselves are pretty good, and fairly self-explanatory, especially as the game doesn’t really offer any tutorials or clues. All your progression is done by trial and error but comes quite naturally. Throughout the puzzles there are glimpses of another, outside world, which tells a story of what could really be going on and allows you to piece together the clues somewhat before the final revelation.

The puzzle are challenging and pretty fun, but there was a niggling feeling that I had throughout, especially playing through the first two floors of the hotel. You see, the puzzle sections are set in what could be a completely different universe to the eponymous hotel and I felt that I had been taken out of the interesting and peculiar world that the hotel provided. I am confused as to why the puzzles couldn’t have taken place within the design of the hotel? Its almost like you walk through a door into a futuristic space station to solve the eight or nine puzzles before returning through the same door back to the hotel. It really does feel like two different games shoehorned together. The final level just about manages this integration a lot more successfully and it leaves you with a feeling of what might have been.

Although the first few levels of the puzzles drag on a little bit, as soon as the teleportation and level rotation is introduced they become much more interesting and challenging. There is a lot of disorientation going on as you try to remember where you’d placed a certain colour before you’d rotated!  However, not once did I need to head to the internet to see how a certain puzzle could be solved, but I think some may be glitched as I could spend an age on one puzzle before flying through the next, apparently harder level. My other slight frustration is that you often need to restart the puzzle because you’ve done something wrong, or in the wrong order, and there is no way of doing this other than returning to the menu. It would have been nice to have a way of doing this within the game, as again it took me out of the world. I did enjoy the voice acting from Amelia Tyler as Cooper, who does a great job of gently guiding you along.

The Spectrum Retreat is a good puzzle game which will provide you with a good 8-10 hours of puzzling. A more integrated two halves would have made it a great puzzle game.

Many Thanks to Plan of Attack for supporting TiX

Achtung! Cthulhu Tactics releases later this year

We last reported on Achtung! Cthulhu Tactics when it was launched on Kickstarter. A few months have passed, funding was successful, and indeed, Achtung! Cthulhu Tactics will hit consoles (Xbox One, PS4, Nintendo Switch) and PC in Q4 this year. You can check out the announcement trailer below:

Developed by Bristol-based Auroch Digital and to be published by Ripstone Games, Achtung! Cthulhu Tactics challenges you to save the world from Nazis. But not just Nazis, also the other-worldly monstrosities they’ve uncovered through the occult.

Based on the wildly successful tabletop RPG from Modiphius Entertainment, Achtung! Cthulhu Tactics is set in an alternate World War II where the Nazis have gained a considerable advantage by summoning Lovecraftian monsters that could enable them to destroy the allies. Players take control of Charlie Company, an elite band of allied forces, sent in to do the impossible: foil the Nazi plans and turn the tide of war.

“We loved Modiphius’ pulp mash-up of World War II Nazis and the Cthulhu Mythos. It’s an incredibly evocative and exciting alternative history which makes for a unique tabletop experience”

said Nina Adams, Producer at Auroch Digital.

“We’re taking that nigh-on faultless foundation and transporting it into the video game medium, via our favourite genre, the turn-based tactics game. With the genre experiencing something of a comeback in recent years, we feel Achtung! Cthulhu Tactics will not only deliver an incredibly compelling theme and world to play in but also offer innovative gameplay possibilities.”

Achtung! Cthulhu Tactics utilizes a mix of turn-based strategy and RPG mechanics as players embark on a globe-trotting campaign against the forces of evil. Each hero character features their own backstory, weapon specialisations, and combat abilities to give players an edge in the battlefield. Captain Eric “Badger” Harris is a British Intelligence operative who specializes in experimental weaponry and guerrilla warfare; Ariane Dubois is a French Resistance member who’s bonded with a demonic spirit creature that she can command on the battlefield; Corporal Akhee “The Eye” Singh wields a sentient amulet that can transform him into a whirling cloud of blades; and Sergeant Brandon Carter is a loud-mouthed American soldier with a medallion that imbues his signature Thompson submachine gun, with Mythos-fuelled bullets that can tear through the Nazi’s horrifying creations.

Beyond these four main heroes, Charlie Company is joined by the covert ops of Badger’s Commando Unit, and the Native American tribe The Keijn – or “Pathfinder Demon Hunters” as they’re often known.

In the world of Achtung! Cthulhu Tactics, all Allied forces fight better in the light. Step into the dark, however, and the forces of evil will grow ever more powerful.