The Signal State – a review

Hello friends. Indie studio Reckoner Industries and publisher The Iterative Collective released this logic-based synthesizer-inspired puzzle/simulation game that tickled my interest. The Signal State is not like anything else I’ve played during my gaming history, but it fondly reminds me of the backside of Reason where I spent a copious amount of time routing cables to devices to combine different audio streams or connect various modules with each other!

Developer: Reckoner Industries 
Publisher: The Iterative Collective
Genre: Puzzle, Logic, Simulation, Automation, Indie
Release Date: 23 Sep 2021 
Reviewed on: PC/Windows 
Available on: PC/Windows 
Link: Steam
Gameplay Video: Youtube
Copy was provided by the developer.

Set in a dystopian post-apocalyptic future where everyone’s machines stopped working years ago, computers, appliances, generators, every electronic device died, and no one knows why. Entire cities, getting dark without power leaving the people scrambling, trying to figure out what went wrong.

You were born after it happened, and you get to help build and restore everything from scratch putting the pieces back in the right way. For that, you will need to build more space for your community, and for this reason, you need to revive a camp. You’ll be getting orders and instructions on how to proceed through a radio from Miriam, and during your ventures, you’ll get introduced to others like you in different camps or visitors to your own that have the same objective.

In every mission, you will get an assignment (a brief) that describes your objectives – usually needing to fix one of the many dead machines to advance the revival of the camp – like for example a generator to power that farmhouse lights. This is presented with a simple “chatting” interface all while also getting a few dialog options. Through this same chat, you will unveil the story and the background of the other people introduced later in the game.

So, you get to select the needed modules for the objective from an extensive collection in the Module Catalog, connect them using the inputs and outputs with wires, and eventually, you will press Play to start the signal sequence – if you’ve built the correct circuit then the waveforms produced will match the ones on the assignment and then you advance to the next mission. If you fail to get the desired result, you will need to check your circuit again and change what is needed to reach your goal.

As you advance through the missions, more modules will be presented (such as Oscilloscopes, VCAs, etc. designed by Papernoise, who has designed modules for Mutable Instruments, Hexinverter, WMD, and others) such as Oscilloscopes, VCAs, etc.) and will take more complex thinking and cable routing to complete the mission.

But don’t fret! Most of the time, there’s a handy “hint” button you can use that will offer tips on what needs to be done and head you in the right direction. But even with that, some missions will prove challenging, as even with the hints, you will eventually need to calculate what exact value you need a knob dialed to! To help you further, direct links to the game’s Discord are available in the game should you need further help from fellow players.

Helping you also, the first few missions are like a tutorial, getting you to know the basic modules and how to connect them to get the desired outcome. 

Graphics are aesthetically pleasing and rather simplistic, but with plenty of details on the modules and the racks, cabling, etc. The painted character avatars and backgrounds are also well done and add to the overall sense of the “past broken machinery at a future date” theme.

The interface is extremely well organized and clean so that’s welcome when you’re tackling difficult puzzles and even lets you color the cables to your liking as well as freely move the modules between racks to create more efficient circuits. The music is chill and relaxing though a bit repetitive, but I guess that’s intentional as it adds a nice background to the thinking process. Sound effects are effective and satisfying even if they’re quite the opposite of “chilling” if you make a mistake on the puzzle.

Despite its complicated engineering visuals, Signal State is a deep puzzle game levitating signal theory that mostly resembles that what engineers are doing in their labs! Certainty offers you a unique experience and if you’re into engineering of any kind I’m recommending this, if not you can always try the demo and see for yourself!

Additionally, as developers promised “Ιn a future update, there will be a free-for-all playground without any constraint, create your own puzzles with a built-in puzzle designer, or access other players’ creations via the Steam Workshop.”, so that adds to the title’s longevity.

Graphics: 8 
Sound: 7 
Gameplay: 7
Fun Factor: 7,5
Final Verdict/Overall: 7,5

This post was first published on overage-gaming by static. If you like what you see here and want to see more, you can check me out on Twitter and YouTube as well.

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