Small Radios Big Televisions (PC) Review

By Gabriel Jones 03.11.2016

Review for Small Radios Big Televisions on PC

Sometime after much of the planet became uninhabitable, factories were built; their sole purpose was attempting to fix the damage that had been done. When every hour of a factory worker's life is spent staring at dull grey walls, any possibility of escapism is welcome. Thankfully, visions of the world survived on virtual reality tapes. In hindsight, maybe this technology wasn't the best idea. The lines that separated both realities have blurred a little too much. Now, there isn't anybody left. It's up to one person to discover why the factories were abandoned. This is the story of Small Radios Big Televisions.

For six to eight hours (or more), the eyes of the working class can only see what's directly in front of them. This can be anything from the wall of an office cubicle, the floor of a restaurant, or even the blank screen of a word processor. This constant repetitive imagery is drilled into the skulls of workers. Eventually, their vision becomes accustomed to these dreary sights, and their soul erodes until nothing remains. The only respite comes in the form of time off, which is usually spent staring at the same television screen, the same glass of liquor, or that crack in the ceiling. Yes, the same crack that should have been fixed months ago, but it somehow remains the most interesting thing about every weekend.

Screenshot for Small Radios Big Televisions on PC

When someone wants to get away from this constant mundane cycle, they take a vacation. To some people, a vacation isn't just an excuse to relax. Vacations are about seeing what other parts of the world have to offer, sharing in the culture of others, having experiences that can shape a person's identity. Keep in mind, the purpose of this review is not to invoke some sense of wanderlust buried within the reader. Indeed, telling someone that is reading about a video game, to go out and see the world, is something of a mixed message.

This dichotomy is part of what makes Small Radios Big Televisions work. In the future, there is no longer a world to explore, because the factories are all that remain. What's the sense in taking vacations? The "live to work" culture everyone has embraced is all that matters. Still, studies of tomorrow have confirmed that humans require a few minutes of vacation time a day, hence the VR glasses. Everything from rocky beaches to idyllic farms can be found on analogue tapes, and that's reason enough to be perfectly content. Unfortunately, when all visions of tranquillity are the same, it calls into question one's identity. It probably wouldn't take much to shatter their already fragile emotional state. Over a long enough period of time, even virtual reality could supplant the actual reality.

Screenshot for Small Radios Big Televisions on PC

This game is unlike most others in the adventure genre. There is some puzzle-solving, but it's more about figuring out what lies within. It's that deeper meaning everyone looks for when experiencing art. What was described in the last few paragraphs is just one of many interpretations. There are other themes, such as loneliness. Aside from an unnamed protagonist, there isn't anyone else in the factories. Furthermore, these VR trips were never designed to be shared with others. Something as common as a sunset can become so much more when two people view it, provided they're both together watching that same sunset. Without that connection, it's just a meaningless image.

When the world is ending, and all that's left are the images, what happens next? In the case of this game, the images eventually become distorted. Much of the game's progress is tied to finding keys hidden within the many VR "worlds." At certain points, the player will stumble upon magnets, which cause the tapes to output corrupted graphics and sound. Is this more insight into how Earth was forever changed, the reason why everyone disappeared, or just white noise? In any case, it's a new perspective, which significantly adds to the atmosphere. No matter how garbled everything gets, there is still a sense of beauty and wonderment.

Screenshot for Small Radios Big Televisions on PC

A nice aspect of Small Radios Big Televisions is that while it has a message, it doesn't try to beat the player over the head with it. The details are mostly hidden in the background. A few minor conversations in-between factories exist to explain the purpose of the protagonist's mission. There is a zen-like approach to this brief adventure. At times, someone might find themselves entranced, and they'll idle away the minutes during the VR worlds. It's those important moments where a person allows themselves the time to pursue thoughts, even if they aren't actually related to the game they're playing.

Granted, all of this would be rendered moot if the soundtrack wasn't astonishing in its greatness. There simply aren't enough good things that can be said about it. Every song perfectly fits the current location, no matter how surreal it might become. However, anyone who isn't a fan of synth-heavy and minimalistic tunes probably won't appreciate what they hear. The graphics are also quite good. Everything has a distinct look, and the lo-fi aesthetic presented in the VR worlds is very cool. The non-intrusive interface makes getting around very easy. The puzzles are decent for what they are, and they're reasonably designed, so it's difficult to get stuck on them.

Screenshot for Small Radios Big Televisions on PC

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10

If it can connect with the player, then this game is a profound experience. It takes the medium into different directions, while drawing upon its artistic qualities to find what lies within the viewer. Of course, there's no guarantee that it will garner the same response from everyone. Some people might even say it's pretentious, which wouldn't be an unfair assessment. In the end, this is just a point of view. However, inspiration can't be taken for granted, because it allows someone to look a little harder at the world around them, and a little deeper into themselves. This is reason enough to consider investing a couple of hours into Small Radios Big Televisions.


Fire Face Corporation


Adult Swim





C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date None   Australian release date Out now   


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