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By Cataclysmic Knight On 9 May, 2017 At 03:48 PM | Categorized As Indie Spotlight, PlayStation, Reviews, Reviews, ROG News | With 0 Comments

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Developed By: Fire Face Corporation
Published By: Adult Swim Games
Available For: PS4 (reviewed), Windows

One side of the second building.

I had never heard of Small Radios Big Televisions before I received a review code for it, but a quick glance online made it look like Fez if it was a point-and-click puzzler. Diving in, I was presented with a building against a rather plain red background and absolutely no tutorial or clue as to what to do. Moving the left joystick moved the cursor, and when it moved over the only door present it became clear this was what I was meant to do – open the door and begin. Exploration is unique: instead of being given a character to move around, you merely move the cursor and whatever room you’re currently in tilts to allow the cursor to reach everything. To enter a room or interact with things, just press X with the cursor over it. Some things, like cogs, require dragging to complete puzzles. This may sound pretty standard, but the fact that I never saw myself and the view was pulled so far out gave the game an entirely different feel.

It was when I found my first cassette that the game really became special. These cassettes are better than music (yes, even Star-Lord’s Awesome Mixes), they’re virtual reality! Each one has a very specific experience and is clearly labeled with things like Road, Forest or Stream. Like any VR experience these are all first-person, and while some of them offer automatic movement along a pre-programmed track you can’t actually control yourself at all. You can, however, look around with the cursor, and the goal here is to find green gems. To make matters even more wild you’ll come across magnets as you explore the main game which warp any cassettes you currently have. Idyllic, lovely settings become ruined and corrupted when entering them again which is necessary to find additional gems.

Your TD-525 provides some simple diversions, but at what cost?

After each area is completed there’s a mysterious conversation between two people. As a huge fan of story in games this was an excellent addition. They’re all very short, so folks who couldn’t care less don’t have to wait long, and they’re just long enough to tease at what’s going on. Between the lack of any kind of setup, the mysterious setting, the VR tapes and these dialogues the game’s world is constantly unraveling into something interesting. There’s also writing and graffiti on the walls of several of the rooms that elude to a much darker tone. It’s almost painful how much I want to talk about the story of this game! Unfortunately, this is one of those games where giving any details would hurt the experience.

Things get a little dark at times.

I am NOT good at puzzle games. A quarter or a half of the way in I typically start needing a walkthrough here and there, and by the last quarter or so I usually end up spending more time watching videos on how to solve the game’s puzzles than actually playing it. That wasn’t the case here, and while I ended up feeling rather smart a few times I worry that hardcore puzzle fans will be rather bored here. The difficulty in the game comes mostly from navigating through the areas and locating the green gems in the cassettes: as the game progresses rooms end up having quite a few diverging paths that make it easy to forget where to go or where you just came from. There is a map in the game, but I didn’t get any use out of it personally. The fact that doors are always closed until you first enter them and stay open once they’re opened helps, but the later areas require a fair bit of backtracking.

The audio and art fit the retro theme incredibly well. The 3D styles of the last century are evident here and the music is subdued and enjoyable, although one or two of the pieces may have been a little repetitive in the background as I hunted down gems. I also liked that the game took advantage of the DualShock speaker for inserting cassettes; as someone somewhat new to PS4 I’m always excited when a game takes advantage of it. It all came together to draw me far more into the world of Small Radios Big Television than I could have expected.

Small radios provide big insight into the plot.

I really loved that the game doesn’t hold your hand yet still ended up making perfect sense. It was awesome that even a mediocre puzzle gamer like myself could figure things out! Although the gameplay is rather simple and half the puzzles are just hunting for green gems in cassettes or navigating small labyrinths of doors the setting and story more than made up for it to me. I even felt compelled to go back through and find the two lenses I missed the first time around; completing the game unlocks the ability to go back and the doors are thankfully all closed once again. The mystery was a bit simple but deep enough to keep me excited about every scene, and the ending had a really unexpected, Twilight Zone-ish twist. If you’re a big fan of story games like me and have a few hours to spend on a unique little puzzle adventure title I’d highly recommend Small Radios Big Televisions.

Disclaimer: A code was provided for the purposes of this review