Pretty to look at.
SMALL RADIOS BIG TELEVISIONS ON PLAYSTATION 4
Adult Swim Games’ latest title, Small Radios Big Televisions, ditches digital communication and ventures back to a time where cassette tapes were still a prevalent form of audio and data storage.
Aesthetically, Small Radios Big Televisions ticks all the boxes and if this review was based alone on the visuals alone, it would be difficult to fault it. The game’s bright color palette complements its minimalist level design, creating a fine line between the charming animations that each room delivers and the eerie sense of unknown that the game drives forward. In some ways, however, it doesn’t work. The game opens up more questions that it initially answers. At first glance, the aim is to solve some puzzles in order to collect tapes that you can then put into your tape deck. While some of the puzzles offer a degree of difficulty, the process of solving and finding tapes can quickly become mundane.
An overarching linear storyline throughout the two to three hour campaign offers some explanation as to why the tapes are important, but at times, it still feels like the game is moving too slowly. Instead of creating a narrative-driven title, Fire Face encourages players to explore through the five eerie factories that the game has to offer. With all of the gameplay being cursor-based, a distinct sense of loneliness surrounds each level as players progress further along their adventure. This lack of human contact throughout the story encourages players to further explore every inch that the game has to offer, but at times it just isn’t enough.
Each tape discovered transports the player into an alternate landscape, where the main focus is to collect keys that can be used to open doorways back into reality. Integrated puzzles are worked into these new environments, adding a new and interesting perspective to the otherwise mundane point and click gameplay. Each new “tape world” offers its own unique atmosphere, with some capitalizing on the game’s pleasing visuals and others venturing into the borderline absurd. While each new tape offers something different from the one previous, the in-game map combined with the labyrinth of rooms and tunnels that players are expected to navigate can be tricky to follow, often leading to time spent clicking back through empty rooms that no longer have anything to offer.
The in-game controls on the PS4 are fairly similar to that of the PC. Where PC players point and click with the mouse, the same style approach is carried out by the left analogue stick on the DualShock controller. The game offers some resistance towards this feature, letting go of the analog stick brings the cursor back to the center of the screen, while when actually moving the cursor, there is a slight pull the further away from the center point that you move. This method of movement within the game, although interesting, often just becomes a nuisance. Trying to click on specific items can, at times, feel slightly difficult and further slows down the game’s pace.
Small Radios Big Televisions isn’t a bad game by any means, its beautifully animated style, coupled with a synth led soundtrack, creates an amazing environment in which to explore its well-thought-out puzzles and interesting level design. At times though, it just lacks direction.
Score: 3/5 – Fair
This post was originally written by Jared Moore.