Alt-Frequencies is one of those games that I really wanted to like. The premise is super fascinating: You’re continuously being sent back in a time loop that lasts for a few minutes. Within that time loop, you can record messages from different radio stations, and send them to other stations to help get the word out about government conspiracies. How successful you are at getting said message out is entirely up to how much you pay attention to the different stations, and the different characters’ lives while you try to break the loop with your puzzle solving skills.
At its core, Alt-Frequencies is a mystery puzzle game. I played it on PC, but it originally was for mobile, so the concept was using the touch screen to record messages. I believe this gameplay can still be done on PC, but the developers of Alt-Frequencies made the game accessible to blind players by making sure you can turn on a mode that only has you using your keyboard. It also automatically uses your screen reader to read menus, and any non-narrated segments of the game. This was a wonderful thing to find out and made me instantly buy the game, because we need to support indi developers that have accessibility at the forefront of their minds. But with all of that aside, how does Alt-Frequencies stack up as a game?
Like I said, the gameplay is rather simple. You hit enter to record a message, the up arrow to send a message, the space bar to hear a message you recorded, and the left and right arrows to switch between radio stations. When you hear something you think is noteworthy and want to send to another station, just record and toggle over to the station you want to send it to, hit up, and they’ll react in a way that clearly tells you whether or not you got the right message to the right person, or whether you need to try something else. It’s decently easy to figure out what you need to be doing and who you need to take cues from in regards to the puzzles, but at the same time I had a bit of a hard time with some of the later puzzles because it wasn’t super clear who you needed to send what to. I’m not sure if that’s just my lack of puzzle solving skills, but a teeny bit more direction in where to go would have been nice in the later segments of the game.
It would seem like the mechanics would get boring, but I thought for how simple they were they were well executed, and I found myself wanting to find out what was going to happen next in the story. Speaking of story…
The plot was interesting, but didn’t land it’s mark. The game when you know what you’re doing lasts about 2 hours tops, and for as much as they were developing the political intrigue it needed more time to have the story be ended satisfactorily. It felt like we had just gotten into the meat of it, and then it slammed the breaks and the story ended. The ending itself is a bit obligatory too, and doesn’t really feel like what we were heading towards story wise is what was supposed to happen. I enjoyed the game overall, but really wish there was more time dedicated to fleshing out the story.
The characters and the radio stations themselves are the saving grace of this game. The voice cast was really good at portraying their roles, and making me interested in what was going on for each radio station. We have a small college station, jerky talk radio show host with more depth to him, big talk show duo and a few others I don’t want to spoil. But as you go through the time loops, you can toggle through each station and hear how it’s effecting each person. Do they buy into the time loop stuff? Should they be doing something about it? All of these emotions and plot beats are very well executed by the characters, and that’s why the length of the game is a bit disappointing – I really wanted to see more of a plot grow with the cast we got, and although you do see what all of them were doing in the final chapter, I just wish we would have gotten maybe two or three more chapters so the plot came to a better conclusion than we got.
Alt-Frequencies was still enjoyable to play overall. If you want a short game just to play to pass the time, I’d say pick it up and give it a go. It’s only $7.99 USD on Steam and I think for that price, you definitely get your money’s worth. Even though I wanted more from the game, I liked what we got from it at the same time if that makes sense. A solid 5 out of 10 for me, not annoyed I played it, but nothing that I’m wanting to play again any time soon.
You can pick up Alt-Frequencies here.