Review: Small Radios Big Televisions (PS4)

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Formats:

  • PlayStation 4
  • PC

Format/Hardware Used:

  • PSN Download
  • PS4
  • HDTV
Title: Small Radios Big Televisions
Format: PSN (193.3 MB)
Release Date: November 8, 2016
Publisher: Adult Swim Games
Developer: FIRE FACE
Original MSRP: $11.99
ESRB Rating: E
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy

Gameplay:
Small Radios Big Televisions is strange. Even after beating the game and thinking about it for a couple days I don’t know if I fully understand what I experienced.

This is a puzzle adventure game in which you go from room to room using a cursor to interact with the environment. There are fairly simple mechanical puzzles mostly dealing with gears. The only time you’re stopped is when a simple puzzle needs to be solved or a gem is required to open a door.

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Gems are acquired through cassette tapes that are scattered throughout a level. When a cassette tape is found you enter a bizarre world that a gem might be hidden in. Once there, it becomes a simple “find the hidden gem and then teleport back to reality”.

Occasionally a tape’s world does not produce a gem leaving you to find a tape scrambler which distorts the tape enough that a gem will pop up when you try again. That’s it really, the game and its puzzles are simple and sometimes feel more tedious than fun.

… it doesn’t have enough going for it …
The story is vague too so I never felt compelled to force myself to dig for a deeper meaning. The game as a whole is rather short which works in its favor because after going through the levels, or towers as they are presented, I didn’t feel as if it dragged and the experience was a pleasant distraction.

Visuals:
The game has a really cool look to it and it stands out from the crowd with its strange and simple environments. This is especially true when you enter the scrambled cassette tape worlds as you’re transported to trippy places. These areas have a simplistic early 90s 3D game look about them with worn out visual effects and negative color schemes. Each cassette is unique and by far the most interesting aspect of the game.

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Audio:
It might be because I am still feeling a high from watching Stranger Things, but I loved the soundtrack. The music sticks with its love of cassette tapes by capturing the 1980s synthy electronic sounds. Plus it adds nice touches like having the music and sound effects sound like they’ve been distorted or that they’re coming from a really worn out tape.

There is some limited voice work as well which is very muffled on purpose, but the music is what truly shines here.

Online/Multiplayer:
This game is singleplayer only with no online component.

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Conclusion:
I wanted to like this game more than I did, but it doesn’t have enough going for it. The soundtrack and art style make it something that catches the eye, it’s just the gameplay and story that fall short.

The puzzles lack significant challenge or a ramp-up in difficulty that leaves them feeling unfulfilling, and those looking for story might be better suited looking elsewhere as this features a vague narrative. A good soundtrack can only take you so far. Small Radios Big Televisions is not a bad game it’s just a bit dull.

Score:
5.5

* All screenshots used in this review were taken directly from the game using the Share functionality on the PlayStation 4.

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