Puzzle games are an intriguing genre; it can be blocky and abstract like the Tetris series, or it can be bright and cartoonish like Nintendo’s Pushmo series. Either way, it is entirely up to the developers to present their puzzle game however they see fit.
Developers Reckoner Industries and publisher The Iterative Collective have opted for a very minimalist presentation with their new puzzle game, The Signal State.
Featured in Steam Next Fest 2021 and one of the top contenders for the SEA Game Awards, The Signal State is one of the boldest games in the region because it dares to appeal to a niche market of smart gamers.
State of the world
In a post-apocalyptic future, the player is tasked with rebuilding an abandoned farmhouse by repairing their various machines and breathing new life into old technology using synth modules and rewiring them to operate at new.
Players will manipulate the entries using unique modules and patch cables via a simple drag-and-drop system in over 40 different puzzles and participating in the game’s online leaderboards.
Although it is light, there is a story that keeps the player in the main mode of The Signal State, with the player interacting mainly with Miriam, who assigns the player’s missions and gives you clues if you get stuck.
And expect to be stuck often as the signal state can be quite difficult to understand, with the game starting with only a handful of inputs that require the player to connect cables to them. The later levels essentially require players to rewire some sort of entire power grid.
It can be easy to get lost because finding the right ârhythmâ in the puzzles takes some trial and error to succeed. The game offers easy access to The Signal State’s official Discord, where other players can be asked for advice, which is a great integration of social media and teamwork.
Beyond that, the lofi music featured in The Signal State keeps things airy even if you rack your brains to figure things out.
The Signal State’s difficulty is probably its highest barrier to entry, so if a first glance at the game doesn’t vibrate, then it might not be for you.
The game could use a lot more story elements as well. A more engaging storyline could encourage players and keep them on track to save this dilapidated farmhouse and its inhabitants. The minimalist approach to the game is great, but as it is, it can feel a bit bare.
The developers have announced a free-to-all sandbox mode where players can create their own puzzles with a built-in puzzle designer, or access other players’ creations through the Steam Workshop. It’s definitely a great direction for the game, and we can’t see what the players are coming up with.
If this sounds like the game for you, The Signal State is out now on Steam.