Spectrum Break review
Jump your way through a neon light show.
Spectrum Break is a game about traversing levels with vibrant colors, as you travel across floating shapes that sink as you step on them. Colorful blocks float around the stage in zero gravity, but you’re still affected by gravity yourself. The way your character moves feels like Mario, but the level design is way different. Instead of moving to the end of a level, your goal is to light up every block by touching them or hitting them with another block. Spectrum Break doesn’t feel like any other platformer I’ve played.
The game looks as if you jumped right into a light show, with sets of levels varying in color. The music doesn’t have a clear melody, but rather you’ll hear the same relaxing motif over and over. You’d think by looking at screenshots that Spectrum Break would be fast-paced like Geometry Wars, but in reality it’s the complete opposite.
Moving left and right, jumping, and wall jumping are the only things you need to know about movement in Spectrum Break. The physics can be tricky, though. Although your tiny character can jump pretty high, and you can adjust your momentum while in mid-air, it takes time to change your momentum. That means you can’t scale a completely vertical wall just by wall jumping.
Thanks to some clever level design, different levels require different strategies to traverse. Some levels require a plan to get through, while others demand precise control. You might also have to take advantage of special blocks with unique behaviors. Some blocks launch themselves a specific direction when you step on them, while others expand rapidly a few seconds after you touch them, pushing other blocks out of their vicinity.
Spectrum Break isn’t a long game. There are 55 levels, with the last five being much more difficult than any of the previous levels. Each level, except for the last few, can be completed in under a minute – that is, if you survive. Theoretically, if you never die, you can complete the entire game in thirty minutes (I know this because it keeps track of all of your best times, including your combined best times for every level).
There is a secret block in each level that stays invisible unless you happen to hit it. As far as I know you don’t unlock anything special by finding the secret blocks, unless there’s a secret level that I don’t know about. Because of the nature of the hidden blocks, they’re completely invisible until touched at least once (at which point on subsequent runs, they give off red particles). Personally, I don’t care to go hunting for invisible blocks on the off-chance of finding a hidden level.
There’s also a speedrun mode. I think it’s great that there’s an option built into the game for speedrunners who don’t want to download third-party software. Speedrunning is awesome, whether you’re just an observer or you want to try to beat a game quickly yourself.
Overall, Spectrum Break is a visually appealing physics platformer that feels and controls just right. You can jump high and run fast, and the environments are designed to feel like a genuine challenge. The platformer genre tends to be pretty easy, on the whole, except for the likes of Super Meat Boy and Celeste. Spectrum Break isn’t as difficult as those games, but I’d definitely put it above your average Mario. It’s a nice challenge for platforming veterans like myself but only mildly infuriating compared to the likes of Super Meat Boy.