Ambitious narrative game delivered by simple game mechanics
Size: 529.1 MB
Developer: Plug In digital
Platform: iPhone / iPad
Alt-Frequencies is a new audio mystery game that on the surface looks (and sounds) quite complex. But as you dig in, despite a lofty approach to storytelling, the game is quite simple.
Narrative games with a lot of text to read are tricky – the balance is how much interaction you want the reader to have to feel involved, but not too much that a developer would have to create shedloads of content to follow the ‘choose-your-own-adventure’ style approach.
Alt-Frequencies treads the line well, provide simple but consistent interaction as the mystery unfolds.
But what is the mystery? Well, in an attempt not to ruin the, well, mystery, we won’t say too much. But essentially, the user plays their part in a world that is unknowingly part of a 3-minute time loop. Only a small amount of people are aware of time repeating itself, and it’s up to you to help spread the word so people can break the conspiracy and take back control of their lives.
Think Groundhog Day, or the recent Netflix series Russian Doll.
You’ll be doing this over the airwaves. The game sees you essentially sit in front of a radio, skipping through frequencies to find information, record it, and then play it back to other frequencies in the hope that someone can help push the message forwards.
There’s an interesting mix of characters that you’ll come across, from conspiracy theorists, to arrogant DJs, to activists willing to help the course. Will you be able to inform a sleeping public that the world isn’t as it seems? You’ll have to play to find out.
The idea itself is fascinating and will engage those with a conspiracy theory/science fiction bent, but we did find it could be a bit slow sometimes. You essentially get given instructions, swipe through radio signals listening out for a piece of information, before recording it and finding the right radio show/host or person to play it back to. It’s an incredibly simple model, but at times it’s too simple for its own good and we would have liked a little more dynamism to proceedings.
On the audio side, the game really comes into its own. There’s a vast voice cast ranging from the cheesy to the spooky, while the dialogue is nicely written and often very funny. The visual design is basic, but it works and supports the audio-focus of this story.
However, it’s a neat trick to tell a story that itself is very cool. It’s not a cheap game, but we don’t think that’ll stop those are already reading this review and wanting it to be over already so you can head to the App Store. Well, go on, don’t let us hold you up – you never know when the loop will reset and you’ll have to read it all over again.