(Review) The Signal From Tölva

What in the world is The Signal From Tölva actually? I mean… I’m a robot and I get that. There’s a planet with a mysterious signal and we (a faction of robot people) care for some reason. Mysteries make us curious I guess. I mean, I’d be curious as well, but still. So why do the other robots already on the planet want to stop me? I guess all robots aren’t created with the same directive. Maybe they are just jerks and never learned to share from their robot parents? Who’s to say really? So what is exactly the point to The Signal From Tölva? Well, let me try to break it down for you.

Maybe the point of the game is to make new robot friends by shooting them with green happy lasers. Yeh… that could very well be it. But you can only have four friends at once (once you buy the better “weapon”),it’s definitely no Friendface.

So you’re a robot and you come to this planet Tölva all because of a signal. It’s mysterious and you’ve just got to know! So you take over a drone on the ground and begin exploring. There are no real wildlife to worry about so that’s something. (There are little sparky dudes floating around and they hurt… and are dumb. So don’t touch!) However, the game does give you a gun so you know that things aren’t going to be a cake-walk. From the starting point on you just start walking. The map seems rather large, but it’s not overly huge. You can cover those long distances by constantly running and since you’re a robot, you have no stamina. Although, after a while, even the running seems slow. That is until you walk again and you realize you were wrong. The surrounding land is very mezmorizingly scifi and you’re constantly checking your scanners to see if something of interest is near by that I didn’t have much time to contemplate the speed.

Have I seen this robo corpse before? Man… the first maze was nothing, but the ones at the end were hair-pullingly fun if you get my meaning.

The gun mechanics are fairly solid here. However, when I wasn’t looking down the sites, it seemed to not be very accurate which kind of makes sense. The marker on the screen shows me where I’m aiming and I figured that would be good enough, but I guess that’s what I get for assuming. There are friendly robots that seem to mindlessly walk about, but that’s not the case. I’ll explain in a second. You’ll also find two other factions of robots on Tölva that don’t really want you around and want to share their ammo with you in an aggressive way. One is the Zealots and the other’s name escapes me even after going back into my save to find it. I would explain why they are trying to kill you, but even after getting two different endings and not seeing a third, I’m just going to assume that they don’t like you while the Surveyors simply don’t care. The enemy of the “person I don’t care about” is my friend I guess.

So many points of interest and lots of things to capture. While I noticed baddie robots capturing points, I never noticed my guys going out of their way to take over an enemy fort. *Grumble*Grumble*

The interaction between the robot factions is my favorite aspects of this game. The Surveyors and the other factions will spawn at forts and start to go and explore. They will go and find other forts not controlled by them and try to overpower those in control. This is going on all around the map. Granted, the robots walk around so this doesn’t ruin the experience by making you chase down roaming bands of baddie robots. That was an initial concern that they would be overly aggressive and better fighters than the friendly ones (which is basically true). That isn’t the case. It’s a numbers game and whoever starts the fight seems to have the upper hand, but not always. Sometimes the enemies seem to use their shields more than the good guys, but what are you gonna do. I would have wished for more combat and more points to be taken over behind my back, but maybe I just stormed through the game more quickly than I was supposed to. It was fun though and I don’t regret all the wanton carnage I dished out.

Given this game and Sir, You Are Being Hunted, a massive scale robot war game doesn’t seem to be likely, but with this as a foundation, that game would delicious!

There were a few glitches with some of the baddies walking into walls at one point, but my experience was not hampered by that. I think the biggest drag for me was the story line. It wasn’t that the game didn’t interest me, but that the story was given to you indirectly through the things you scanned and later would have to go back and read. That’s not “technically” a problem, but I was having too much fun running around capping enemy robots and capturing control points and by the end of the game after I had experienced the two endings I did, I was left confused. Then I had to go back and try read quite a few pages of text to hopefully flesh out the story a bit more so I wasn’t left with a stupid look on my face. (At this point, the look is still there.)

When things glow like this, you know you have to walk up and touch them!

After reading everything I had available (because you get more story from the things you scan as I said), I was left unsatisfied. Maybe it’s beyond me and I’ll wear that mantle if that’s the truth, but I’ve come to another conclusion as well that makes me feel better about myself. The Signal From Tölva comes off as more of an experience than a full-fledged game. People compare it to Far Cry with robots. I’d have lost the story there too because of all the exploring I tend to do in that franchise if it didn’t keep throwing it in my face. The Signal From Tölva didn’t do that and maybe if I was able to find all of the scannable things the story would have been more spelled out for me. While I may not be going back any time soon for that, I had fun and that’s the whole point of gaming.

The Signal From Tölva is pretty fun. Seeing as how, in the end, it ended up being more of an “experience” than a open-world shooter game, I was a little let down. Had I known that going in, I may have had a rosier outlook on the gameplay. The gameplay with all of the shooting, collecting and other factions warring over bases made for a real fun environment. It also made me lament that this wasn’t a more grandiose scale game, but I digress. The puzzles were fun and the gun mechanics were all good and I can’t help but really liking the style that the devs over at Big Robot Ltd choose in their games and I look forward to what’s going to come next from them!

Further Reading on The Signal From Tölva: BlogOfficial Page / Steam / Twitter

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