Death of the Critic

Small Radios Big Televisions - Review

Written by: Tom Blaich


Small Radios Big Televisions
is the latest title to be released by Adult Swim. Developed by Fire Face, the stylistic puzzler dips you into a series of themed “factories” as you try to figure out the mystery behind the world that you have found yourself in. Essentially it is a point-and-click puzzle game with a heavy emphasis on style over difficulty. The world is colorful and broken, as nature slowly tries to reclaim the crumbling buildings from civilization. To get through each one of the shaped factories, you must collect cassette tapes that you use with your character’s VR headset to transport you from your industrial tower back to a piece of nature from before whatever has happened to the world.


These nature segments are truly gorgeous, and are a welcome respite from the side-on view of the factories that you’ll be looking at for the rest of the game. Unfortunately, you can’t really do anything in these worlds. You have no control over movement, and you either stand still or are on a repeating track through the area as you search for the glowing green gem hiding in the environment so you can click on it and exit the tape. It’s basically a pretty interactive picture and it’s kind of disappointing, because being able to walk around these environments would have been amazing.

For the majority of the game, the puzzles come down to finding the cassette tapes and finding the gems inside of them to open doors. Sometimes you’ll have to use magnets placed throughout the levels to distort the tapes, which gives you access to a strange version of the cassette that you didn’t have before. Sometimes this distorted version will have another gem. Sometimes you’ll have to do this process twice at separate magnets found in the level. It isn’t difficult so much as tedious, but the distorted cassettes do look cool.


It seems like a lot of decisions in this game put style far above substance. It has a lot of style, with a cool aesthetic and some really nice elements of sound and object design blended in. It sounds good to use tapes, and collect gems, and open doors, and the world has tons of tiny little animations that feel good to see. The environmental storytelling is great, and piecing together the story through the distorted tapes and the dilapidated factories can be intriguing to walk through.

At the same time, I felt like I had to constantly fight against the controls to discover this story. The mouse sometimes felt like it was actively working against me while I was trying to get things done. Your cursor on-screen moves as the mouse moves, but the entire screen moves along with it, which makes things at the perimeter of the view difficult to click on in a way that feels annoying as opposed to challenging. It was like I was wrestling with the game to get it to do what I want, adding frustration where it desperately doesn’t need it.


There are some intriguing pieces here. An interesting story that you eke out through short audio clips and wall art a la Cave Johnson in Portal, with an aesthetic that does set the game apart. Trying to figure out what happened and what you are doing in the world is cool, and leaves you with enough questions unanswered to be a complete story. But the physical act of playing the game can be more chore than enjoyment, which really can diminish the game’s impression on you.


This title was reviewed on a PC running Windows 7. The title was provided to us free of charge by the publisher.

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Tom has been writing about media since he was a senior in high school. He likes long walks on the beach, dark liquor, and when characters reload guns in action movies.

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