Small Radios Big Televisions Review: Seeing Sounds

November 14th, 2016 -

In the course of the past year, virtual reality has become more than just a pipedream. The Rift, Vive, and PSVR are heavy hitters in the gaming world, and many others from companies like Google and Samsung exist on a much lower tier. But have you ever thought of a virtual audioverse? Putting a cassette in your TD-525 tape deck will do much more than just play music for you – it’ll transport you to another place entirely. From the solid colors of a 2.5D world for pointing and clicking to a 3D world that once was. What exactly are these tapes, and what are they for?

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It’s kind of hard to accurately describe Small Radios Big Televisions to someone. I called it a puzzle game to a couple of friends, knowing one of them is big into puzzle games. But while it definitely has puzzles, I’m not sure I’d back it into that corner alone. It has elements of point-and-click adventure in it, though without dialogue or humor you’d normally find. There are five factories you’ll traverse, picking up tapes, gears, and lenses in each one to complete the game. The gears are used for puzzles, while the tapes will take you to places that will provide you with energy sources to open locked doors. Not every tape will have a single energy source though, nor will they always appear at first glance. This is where the magnets come into play, distorting the very tapes and the worlds they show you.

To say there’s much more to the game, I’d be lying. There is a story, which explains what you are doing. If you are still confused, the trophies for the game may help explain it a bit more. But the majority of the game is spent clicking through doors, solving fairly simple puzzles, and moving onto the next level. This is a game you’ll either enjoy or not get much out of, it seems. If you’re a lover of ambience, you’ll no doubt spend some time in the loops of the tapes, just relaxing with the worlds and audio presented to you. But if you’re expecting a grand twist or revelation, you won’t find that here. Knowing what to do, you can probably finish it under an hour. It took me a few because of the tired states I was in every time I picked it up.

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There is one tape in particular, and I won’t say which it is, but has spoken dialogue that is decipherable. All the dialogue between levels is distorted so you can only really understand by reading, although there are times you can tell that it is the actual words being shown that are being said. But what this tape says had me curious about what was really going on. And distorting it with magnets gave me the creeps as I had expected. But what I didn’t expect was for the game to not continue that trend throughout.

The game isn’t intended to be The Witness or Secret of Monkey Island; it’s an experience that is supposed to be tranquil and a look at an analog future of sorts. While we move forward, we continue to look back with longing, and that is very much a driving theme in this. Small Radios Big Televisions comes as fast as it goes, and allows for you to revisit any of it upon completion. This is a well-made mixtape accompanied with liner notes, and it’s begging you to play it if you can find some time to lie on your bed and just listen.

BUY

Pros

  • Ambient Wonderlands
  • Contrasting Aesthetic

Cons

  • Not Enough Tapes

Small Radios Big Televisions was developed by FIRE FACE and published by Adult Swim Games. The game launched on PC and PS4 November 8th, 2016, for $11.99. The game was provided to us for review on PS4. If you’d like to see more of Small Radios Big Telelvisions, check out the official site.

 

Here at FFoP we use a rating method that you may be unfamiliar with, so allow us to clarify. When we review a game, we see what sort of BRA fits. Buy, Rent, or Acquire is the rating we give out – we’ve boiled it down for simplicity. A Buy is worth the full retail value; a Rent is something you may want to try before you buy, or grab at a discount; an Acquire is something you can play, but we’d suggest borrowing it from someone, grabbing it in a game bundle, or some other means. If you want further clarification, please feel free to get in touch.

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