Sometimes, you can’t believe everything you hear. Alt-Frequencies is a clever puzzle game that has you spreading the word that the government has prematurely activated a time loop, despite its public vote being set to take place later in the week. Listen to radio presenters, record snippets and replay them to other stations in order to get the conversation started. It’s time to stand up and let our voices be heard!
The crux of Alt-Frequencies is based around decoding sounds in order to uncover just that, alternative frequencies. At the beginning of each chapter, you are tasked with finding and recording a clue. You can then record snippets from one radio station and send it into another, asking questions and delving deeper down the rabbit hole.
It can be tricky to get the hang of things at first and yet, the satisfaction of getting people talking by spreading the word is wonderful. The accomplishment seems to trigger some satisfying corner of the brain, similar to that of finding the right key to a lock.
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Story / Personality
For those who like a good conspiracy theory, Alt-Frequencies is the quintessential bread and butter. With an upcoming public vote that’ll decide the fate of a supernatural (yet somehow controlled) time loop, you must scroll through the radio frequencies, find like-minded sceptics and callout the government on their subliminal messaging. The game doesn’t go through the science or mechanics of how the said time loop works and yet, the mystery of it all is itself part of the mystery.
As chief editor of Switchaboo, it’s difficult for me to not notice spelling and grammatical errors. While they aren’t frequent in Alt-Frequencies, there are certainly some that question whether the subtitles were ever proofread; examples include “pizza’s” when referring to multiple pizzas or spelling the word “reckon” as “recon”, with the latter being a military term for exploring in order to divulge secret information. It may not frustrate many players but it certainly frustrated me.
Lastly, the ending; without giving away too much here to avoid spoilers, it certainly is lacklustre. It’s a curious tie-up which leaves room for interpretation and I’m not opposed to games having neat bows on their plot, be them good or bad, but one such as Alt-Frequencies firmly plants itself in an uncertain limbo. I’ll leave this one up to personal taste which, in itself, is its own uncertain limbo.
Graphics / Art Direction
The graphics department may not be the most stimulating and whilst Alt-Frequencies focuses more on sound, the lack of visual variety is painstakingly obvious. There are nice colour indicators drawn with a rough sketch-esque aesthetic which can certainly be praised for originality but when the backdrop and key objects remain the same throughout the game’s movie-length runtime, it begins to grow a little stale.
Music / Sound Design
With a game based solely around the radio, its sound direction is quite possibly the most important aspect. The dialogue is what you are going to be focusing on the most and despite the occasionally awkward line delivery, each host and interviewee is engaging and entertaining to listen to. With a treble boost effect that replicates a classic AM radio frequency, the result is subtle but effective, helping to recreate the feeling of turning the dial back on ye olde antenna radios.
Final Score: 72%
Despite its simplistic nature, Alt-Frequencies is a fascinating and intriguing puzzle game that is unlike anything I’ve played before. Its minimalist control scheme allows for more attention to be placed on the plot which gets increasingly intriguing with each chapter. It’s a game that’s never going to light up the charts and take the world by storm but for all intents and purposes, Alt-Frequencies is a fun little gem designed to entertain for an evening.
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