The Signal From Tölva: 9 mins of robo-spying, shooting

The Signal From Tolva

John previously described Big Robot’s The Signal From Tölva [official site] as “Far Cry meets a 1970s sci-fi book you’ve found in a charity shop.” I like that description, but I didn’t play the hands-on when I was at EGX earlier this year so I’ve been waiting for – just to pull an example out of thin air – nine minutes and twenty-two seconds of gameplay footage delivered via internet so I can take a proper peek. By total coincidence, this has just arrived so you can join me in my perusal!

Disclaimer: Jim Rossignol owns and runs Big Robot. Sometimes I see him for board games and I’d probably nod if we passed each other on the street. Maybe this is too frivolous a disclaimer, even for RPS. What? Co-founder of what? Rock Paper WHATgun? Never heard of it, mate.

So it’s a sci-fi open-world FPS mystery if you’re looking for some genres to lob about. The broad narrative concern has you investigating the titular signal through missions and so on, but the meat of the game seems to be coaxing and commanding friendly faction robots into helping you out as you take out enemy faction bots and seize control of locations.

This vying for control is important because controlling beacons and bunkers means you’ll be able to recruit and command these friendly bots directly instead of needing to nudge them into helping you by starting fights they then participate in. When not being commanded by you, the bots have their own missions so they go about their robotic business according to the dynamic AI. You can see their missions as well as their equipment loadouts using your magic binoculars. The magic binoculars also let you tag hostile and friendly bots.

Bunkers let you spawn patrols of new bots so that can be handy in giving you an edge in terms of bodies in a fight, but your loadout – alongside primary and secondary weapons – has area of effect upgrades so you can try to tip the odds in your favour by using those. Jim demonstrated a signal jammer which temporarily disabled the enemy bots when he used it.

I feel like trying to influence firefights and then shooting robots in the face with lasers is more my speed than stealth games. I am slightly worried that I will forget to do actual gameplay and just turn into some weird robot voyeur, though. Standing in a field, using my magic binoculars to watch them go off on their missions and compiling imaginary performance reviews.


  1. gwop_the_derailer says:

    Not seeing the new video go up yesterday had me worried Jim and you lot might have had a falling out. Well, crisis averted.


    (I’m a very silly person.)

    Game looks great. Love the environmental artstyle and the sound design of the guns.

  2. PseudoKnight says:

    Really digging the art direction in this game. That soft palette and distinct lines really lends itself to tactical readability (except for the occasional excessive bloom) while also being very pleasant to look at. I didn’t expect something like that from a robot shooter. Though, clearly it’s more than just a robot shooter. I’m skeptical if that message will come through to consumers, especially with what I suspect to be a forgettable name. But I’m very much into the mystery stuff. I can’t tell if the shooting bits will be good or not, but the tactical parts might be enough even if the shooting becomes repetitive.

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    Sam says:

    As someone who is Bad At Aiming, I really appreciate the little “Hit” indicator on the iron sights.

  4. mashkeyboardgetusername says:

    I think I remember young Jimothy once idly musing on the joys of watching the AI fight. Kind of funny that he’s now making a game where that’s a core feature.

  5. Neutrino says:

    I really liked Sir You Are Being Hunted, it was one of the few games I’ve completed in the last few years. But while the art style of The Signal From Tolva is nice enough and I expect the production will be top notch, I suspect it will face an uphill struggle to stand out.

    1. In SYABH the weather and wildlife added hugely to the atmostphere, TSFT seems as if it might be rather lacking in that regard.

    2. In SYABH perma death plus the fact that even fully stocked up your food can run out in minutes gives the sense of always being on the edge.

    3. In SYABH you are a human hunted by robots, that adds an immediacy and emotiveness to proceedings such that you can’t help but to care.

    TSFT seems to be basically robots shooting other robots, dying, presumably respawning and re-equiping, rinse and repeat. That’s going to need to be massively compelling in other areas (not least storyline) in order to engender the same kind of emotional envestment.

    I can’t help but feel that TSFT needs something more. If the planet had dangerous lifeforms with their own agenda that could be hostile to some or all other factions, and if the factions themselves were asymmetric (different robots and equipment) each having different reasons for being there (with all factions ideally being playable), then that in conjunction with an absolutely spanking storyline would start to tick some boxes for me.

    It’s one I’ll keep an eye on based on the fun I had with SYABH, but for now it seems too sparse and would need to do a lot more to entice me.

    • Neutrino says:

      Also, why would robots need to use ‘iron sights’ instead of simply interfacing directly with the targeting systems of the weapons that have presumbly been made especially for them? Smacks a little of ‘robots are easier to model than humans but we still want our game to be a COD style fps’.

  6. Zenicetus says:

    Great art style and I like the concept. I hope the gameplay involving beacon and bunker capture isn’t too repetitive though.

  7. mcnostril says:

    This seems like the marsh area of Clear Sky, which was pretty amazing with some mods installed.

    Those animations though… eek.

  8. Ben King says:

    Sir killed me over and over again, and always for good reason, but I never learned to roll with the punches it threw and regularly found myself lost, wounded, starving and pinned down by excellently creepy robots with no sense of where to explore next or where I may have already searched. In the end I think it was just a matter of patience and skill that I lacked. Also never finding a gun ever. The look of this kind of Robo-Farcry is something that I may be able to handle a good deal better.

  9. Solrax says:

    I love how this is looking, will buy instantly when available.

    And please tell me the soundtrack to the video is what the game will ship with!

  10. DelrueOfDetroit says:

    This really seems like a bigger budget version of 3089.

  11. Kollega says:

    The only thing I’m not sold on is the promised mystery, because I’m not a big fan of “surprise creepiness”, and creepiness in general. However, the art style and mechanics are exactly my sort of thing, and it might be that I won’t let the “sinister story” aspect deter me from buying the game for its awesome art and great shooting.

  12. Ghostwise says:

    I strongly suspect that all performance reviews are imaginary.