Title: Spectra
Platform: Xbox One (Reviewed) / PC
Developer: Gateway Interactive
Publisher: Mastertronic
Release date: Out Now
Family Focus: Click here for more information.

Music and Video Games have been extremely friendly bedfellows over the years of the existence of the latter. From simple beeps and bloops to full-blown orchestras, the medium of music has been instrumental (pun intended) in the progression of the world of vVideo Games.

As a Final Fantasy fan myself, I owe much of my musical adoration in Video Games to the great Nobuo Uematsu. On the more electronic side of the music spectrum, I’ve also been partial to the synaesthetic experience that is Rez. In a way, Rez was a trance album that happened to be wrapped in video game format. The video-game aspect enhanced the task of simply listening to the music and instead making you ‘experience’ the music.

XBOXOne Screenshot 2

I suspect Spectra was aiming for a similar experience, providing a specially created set of ten tracks to enjoy in-game, yet the limitations of the game felt like a missed opportunity to connect with the music at a much deeper level.

Spectra is a procedurally generated ride-em-up where you race through a track in space, collecting cubes and dodging obstacles as you go. The pace increases gradually as the track nears completion, increasing the difficulty as the track progresses.

XBOXOne Screenshot 5

Following you along this racetrack is a specially created chiptune soundtrack delivered by Chipzel, the very same artist that wrote the music for the extremely-addictive Super Hexagon. The experience shows, as Chipzel’s work shines once more in delivering a killer soundtrack.

Concerning the actual game itself, whilst it presents a challenge once the speed picks up, and even more so in hardcore mode, I feel that the game doesn’t quite hit the same mark that the soundtrack does. I perhaps blame the likes of Rez for my high expectations on this front.

Upon hearing about Spectra, I had this perception of it being an album wrapped in video game form, with the game complementing the music and creating a combined experience that is greater than their individual products. The music delivered well, but it felt like a lot more could have been done to tie up the game itself with the music.

XBOXOne Screenshot 3

For example, graphically the game looks pretty rad. It was silky-smooth on the Xbox One version that I played and had a lovely space-y feel to it. Thing is, the look doesn’t change at all in the context of the music, leaving the only change down to the procedurally generated tracks and the music itself. If the visuals were contextually sensitive to the music itself, it could have contributed more to the melding of the music with the game.

Going between tunes in the ‘album’, despite the procedural tracks it gave the game a bit of a ‘samey’ feel, regardless of how different each of the music tracks were in the first place.

Priced at £5.99, for an album of chiptune music it would be a decent enough deal. As a video game, I’m less convinced. Where the focus is on the music in a game like Spectra, I felt that more could be done to tie the game in with the music it’s playing alongside.

That said, the music is still pretty awesome.

What Rocks! :)

  • Chipzel’s chiptune soundtrack is awesome
  • Chasing the high scores can be interestingly tricky.
  • Hardcore mode adds an extra challenge

What Sucks :(

  • Visual style is all a bit same-y
  • It felt like a lot more could have been done to make this ‘video game album’ a bit more of an experience

Family Focus

Spectra is rated PEGI 3 in Europe and E for Everyone in the US. It’s rather kid-ling friendly :)