Small Radios Big Televisions is a nice escape. This effort from developer FIRE FACE is about slowly getting lost, exploring interesting environments and getting sucked into puzzles.
If you strap on your headset or turn up your stereo, it’s easy to fall into the world of Small Radios Big Televisions. Expect more of a quick diversion and less of an enveloping experience, and you’ll walk away from this game happy.
These doors, I click them.
The primary mechanic in Small Radios Big Televisions is clicking on doors. You’ll start outside of a bizarre, industrial building, and you’re meant to grab it, rotate it and click your way into rooms. These rooms offer more doors, sometimes puzzles and less frequently switches and slots.
It is, in my mind, a frustrating process once the game moves beyond the initial environment. You’re meant to move all about an area, clicking through doors and rooms. The motion itself is fast enough, but the process of remembering where to go and where you’ve been is annoying. You will get lost in the actual game itself, and that’s a problem when you feel maybe you’re on to solving a key puzzle element.
The process is bizarre. The industrial scape is devoid of people, though the scenes that bookend areas hint at a society gone awry. There is a story element here, yes, but it’s hard to get at and decipher.
Small Radios Big Television is, to me, about escapism through odd analogue means.
What in the world do I mean by that?
The cassettes and magnets are rather wonderful.
The key element to opening doors beyond puzzle solving in the top layer of this world is finding cassettes. These cassettes each feature a strange virtual landscape. That might be a clearing in a forest with a single tree, or it could be the beach near a rocky cliffside. You can’t move about these spaces, but you can look around, and you’ll often find gems used as keys in the world above the cassettes.
What’s really neat, though, is the way the cassettes behave when you run them over magnets found throughout the environment.
Cassettes contain tape, and this tape can be distorted when exposed to electromagnets. This is the problem with analogue media, right? When you distort the tapes, you change the virtual world they contain. That leads to haunting and grimy versions of these virtual worlds, and it also leads to more gem keys required to solve puzzles.
Small Radios Big Televisions is a fun, brief journey.
You can absolutely read into the symbolism of Small Radios Big Televisions, if you want. It’s there, though never too heavy-handed. The world is moving away from analogue into an all-industrial, digital feel. That analogue, physical medium, though, can present a beautiful, corruptible escape.
The virtual dollhouses in the cassettes always stand in stark contrast to the barren and harsh industrial settings. Distorting them with magnets often unveils their dark, decaying soul. It’s weird, and it’s wonderful, an Small Radios Big Televisions is fun because of these moments.
You’ll finish it fast, which is a point of detraction for some. The price of the game hasn’t been announced yet, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see it rest between $9.99 and $20.00. If you don’t mind the price for the couple hours of play, dig in. You could also wait for a sale, depending on the starting cost and your budget. This is a neat game, for sure, and you should put it on your wishlist at the very least.
Small Radios Big Televisions will launch for the PC and PlayStation 4 on November 8, 2016.
Disclaimer: We received a code to download and review Small Radios Big Televisions on the PC.