Small Radios Big Televisions

Small Radios Big Televisions Review

Batteries not included

A.J. Maciejewski

Reviewed by playing a PlayStation 4 on

ESRB Everyone rating

It's hard to understand what goes on in some indie game developers' heads. Small Radios Big Televisions is a psychedelic journey where you uncover cassette tapes and solve puzzles so hit "play" and let's see what it's all about.

Small Radios Big Televisions screenshot 1
I'm geared up and ready to go!

You play Small Radios Big Televisions by controlling a cursor then clicking on doors to move through rooms or various objects to interact with them. There are many puzzles to solve such as turning valves to drain water and setting gears correctly so they work together to open a door. It's all basic stuff that you've likely seen thousands of times before. However, one nifty component is the cassettes. Upon collecting one, you're transported to a virtual world often filled with trippy scenery. Here, you can sometimes collect a gem-like key that grants you access to a door or mechanism. If you don't come across a gem then you can mess with your tapes with magnetic fields in order to distort the worlds contained within and hopefully a key will emerge next time you take a trip. It all adds up to one super-chill adventure that's great for lying back in your seat and mindlessly letting the minutes pass away.

As you would probably guess, the graphics are quite stylish and minimal with groovy visual effects that add to the chill atmosphere. It's usually easy to spot areas of interest and this aspect is enhanced by the fact that usable objects are highlighted when you hover over them. On the audio side, you're treated to a fantastic selection of down-tempo rhythms that often become altered given your current circumstances. Overall, the trippy visuals and audio are a perfect fit for the gameplay.

Small Radios Big Televisions screenshot 2
I wish my cassettes made rainbows come out of my head

Unfortunately, the campaign in Small Radios Big Televisions only consists of five somewhat short stages to work through (known as "factories"). You could essentially complete the whole thing in one sitting if you're witty enough to solve all of the puzzles efficiently. That being said, there are collectables to be found that help shed some light on the story, suitably in the form of lenses. Each stage also has three tapes to uncover which are (as far as I can tell) mandatory but you can view them with a few different distortions each. Basically, once you find all four lenses and experiment with each cassette to see every virtual possibility then you've done all you can do in Small Radios Big Televisions which is a huge missed opportunity given the amount of imagination involved in its world.

Besides the short campaign, Small Radios Big Televisions has some rather odd puzzles that can be annoying to solve. A lot of the time, the solutions are simply displayed on the walls in the background but other times figuring out what to do can require far too much trial and error. After spending minutes of random clicking, it becomes very tempting to just turn it off. On top of this, some solutions are exceptionally obscure and you'll find yourself trying countless combinations of valve positions until something happens.

Small Radios Big Televisions screenshot 3
Only cool people take gondola lifts to their next destination

Small Radios Big Televisions is a good game to wind-down and play after a tough day. That is, until it starts to turn on you and needlessly stresses you out. In the end, this is a worthy download for those who want to go on a unique and trippy adventure and don't mind an experience that won't last longer than a couple of hours but everyone else will be better off leaving cassette tapes in the past.

  • + Simple gameplay is easy to chill out to
  • + Groovy visual effects and smooth down-tempo soundtrack make you cool for playing it
  • + Collectables add a bit of replay value
  • - Very short five-stage campaign
  • - Gameplay often devolves into random pointing and clicking until something happens
  • - Some solutions can be too obscure
6.0 out of 10
Gameplay video for Small Radios Big Televisions 5:17

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