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Spectra Review

Spectra is a fast-paced, twitch racer from indie developer Gateway Interactive.

Spectra on PC

One of my favorite parts about the modern boom in indie games is the variety that they offer. Spectra, a self-described “twitch racing game” with a heavy musical focus, is yet another example of how this variety comes up. A largely simplistic, perhaps even minimalist, game, Spectra puts players in control of a high-speed craft racing along something like a ribbon of light as it winds through the void. The bulk of play boils down to dodging obstacles, collecting points, and struggling to keep control over the squirrelly ship to ensure that it stays on the precarious winding path before it.

Spectra Basic Course

While small sections will be lined with ‘bumpers’, most of each course is open, allowing players to fly off the track at any moment.

While there’s not a lot of “meat” to Spectra, it’s actually pretty fun. A fantastic soundtrack by chiptune artist Chipzel does an amazing job of creating an atmosphere that’s easy to get lost in. While some early struggles may crop up as players get accustomed to the sensitive controls and difficult twists and turns, it’s remarkably easy to get into a groove not unlike what you might expect from a rhythm game. While Spectra doesn’t include any real elements to support that kind of classification, the variety and quality of the supporting music is enough to merit mention.

Spectra Split Track

In case staying on one track isn’t tough enough, frequent splits will mix up the action, and also allow some serious air time.

Where Spectra falls short more than anywhere is probably level design. While the procedurally-generated tracks are plenty to try and tackle, the fact that each looks identical is a bit dull. There is at least variety in the difficulty, as each of the game’s ten levels ups the ante, and playing at least once on each also unlocks a Hardcore mode that takes the already-tough task and cranks it to eleven. Still, some more visual diversity would go a long way to make the game stand out. There’s also the bothersome detail that the tracks don’t actually have a defined end; your only goalpost is the end of the song played for the level you’re on, and when that ends, play stops abruptly mid-stream.

Spectra Multiplier

Speed-boosting elements also increase your multiplier, making each collected item or air time more lucrative. Of course, this also increases the price of an error.

Altogether, Spectra creates a short yet enjoyable experience that mostly makes up for its visual sameness with the great supporting soundtrack, which is also available for purchase. For a lowly $7.49 on Steam — or $5.99 on sale at the moment — there’s certainly worse titles out there in the same price range. While there’s certainly room for improvement in the visual department, the phenomenal music and frantic play are certainly worth a look for anyone that’s interested in the twitch-runner style of game with a fun retro twist.

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