Spectrum (Switch Review) – It’s a Blob of Fun

The Switch is rapidly growing into the to-go console for platform games, and Spectrum is one of them. Set in an abstract world of vibrant colors and shifting shapes, players can enjoy eighty levels of pure, zen-like platforming. The game has four ‘worlds’, each with their own unique environments and obstacles. The minimalist art style was pleasing, but the color scheme a little too glaring for my tastes. It does improve as the game progresses, the palette shifting to darker colors like purple or orange.

Beginning levels are a cakewalk, training wheels to get unfamiliar players accustomed to the controls. It’s a little tedious if you’re used to platform games, but they’re short enough that you won’t get bored. That said, levels gradually become more challenging, some even requiring multiple runs to complete. I didn’t expect the spike in difficulty, but it’s not unwelcome. Compared to the starting levels, things get more fun from the second world onward. Depending on your tastes, this is either a good or bad thing.

The player has three objectives. Finish the level within the time limit, remain unharmed, and gather all the orbs. Fulfilling the objects is entirely optional, and there is zero punishment for not completing one, or all three. If you’re competitive and want a rival to outscore, you can do so by checking the leaderboards. For players who aren’t interested in speed runs, Spectrum also allows you to take as much time as you need to beat a level. I thought this was a nice touch, neither completionists nor casual gamers will lose out.

The gameplay is fun and annoying in equal amounts. You control a wispy, three-eyed tadpole that can jump and dive indefinitely. Navigating levels tests the player’s reflex and sense of timing with ever-shifting death traps in the form of brightly colored platforms. Anything colored can harm you. Dull colors take one-third of your health, while bright ones’ end in instant death. In addition, collecting orbs will replenish your health bar, and this can alleviate tense situations if your blob is one touch away from extinction.

Level design is decent with some repeating gimmicks. Despite this, each level has enough differences that the game doesn’t feel too repetitive. There were platform puzzles I really enjoyed, where I needed to keep my three-eyed blob suspended in mid-air as I sped through the space between rippling, revolving patterns.

If there’s one thing I found lacking, it’s the music. I think the game could have benefited from a more varied soundtrack, but as it was, I didn’t find any songs particularly impactful. They suited the aesthetic but started to get on my nerves if I failed a level one too many times.

All in all, Spectrum is a competent platformer, a good choice for people looking for something to tide them over before the next big release. However, the Switch’s eshop price might be a problem if you’re on a budget. If you want a meaty, challenging platformer with a plot, this game will likely disappoint. But if you’re interested in an entry-level platform game with tight controls and don’t mind dipping into your wallet, then Spectrum might interest you.