Spectra review

xboxone_screenshot_2Spectra from Gateway Interactive and Mastertronics could very well see you ripping out your hair in large clumps. This simplistic racer has you collecting score cubes as you travel along a track filled with obstructions, boost pads, multiple branching paths and sharp bends.

With no control over your propulsion, controls are simple. The left and right triggers activate your air brakes allowing you to slide back and forth across the course and the analog stick to steer left and right.

As you progress, each cube adds to your multiplier score, and once you are more familiar with the controls, getting air either from skipping corners and boost jumping or from skimming your ship along the side of the block obstructions on the track will add to your score, while direct collisions will cause your multiplier to be reset.

With 10 tracks, each procedurally generated from the Chipzel soundtrack and with greater difficulty to accompany the increasingly complex melodies, but only one game mode, there is still a lot of gameplay to be had across the Normal and Hardcore modes available. Each track is unlocked once you complete 20% of the previous course and Hardcore mode is activated once all ten available levels have been completed.

Unlocking the 20% mark to release subsequent tracks is relatively easy, but actually managing to finish the full 100% takes time, practice, concentration, or an extremely high level of twitch reactions.

Spectra also has cross-platform play with Windows mobile devices so you can continue to rack up your score on the go.

Sadly, though the game is highly enjoyable, it did feel like it was missing something. Controlling the ship is relatively straightforward, but with such a narrow track it is extremely easy for a single mistake to ruin what could have been a perfect run.

Additionally, with only race the beat mode, there is a limit to how much it will keep you coming back. This could have been rectified with leaderboards, or even a cumulative scoring system as completing each track to 100% leads on to the next course but the score does not carry over.

Spectra is a strange beast. The culmination of its parts; old school tune set from Chipzel aka Niamh Houston, the mind behind the soundtrack on Super Hexagon and Interstellaria, voxel 8 bit esque graphics, simple auto runner mechanics and insta-fail states, all combine to make an addictive yet frustrating title that can give you several hours of entertainment.

Thanks to Xbox and Gateway Interactive for supporting TiX

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