A quick peek at The Signal From Tölva’s frosty expansion

The Signal from Tölva

As influential as the STALKER series has been, Big Robot’s The Signal From Tölva is one of the few shooters to properly replicate its blend of emergent open-world wandering and sci-fi spookiness. Tölva was admittedly a little on the short side, but Big Robot are generous sorts, and are just about ready to roll out a major free expansion for the game.

Alice took a look at the Polar Regions expansion a while back, which promises more mysteries, laser-fights and exploration in new and colder climes, but now we’ve got a goodly chunk of gameplay footage, along with promises from Big Robot that it’s very nearly ready to be rolled out. Within, lasers glittering across ice, and plenty more robots doing robot things.

It only stands to reason that robots would gravitate towards the colder regions of a planet. While that snow might present some problems, you can’t argue with the free cooling – it’s an overclocker’s paradise! For the most part, the expansion looks like more of the same, although when much of Tölva’s appeal lies in its meandering virtual tourism (with laser guns), more ruins, more hillsides and more enemy bases to shoot up is just what the engineer ordered.

The Polar Region expansion will be entirely free, and promises an additional few hours of gathering artifacts, trying to scan weirdo space-ghosts (although probably not from coast to coast), exploring anomaly-laden ruins and other such low-key robot adventure stuff. Your handler back aboard your ship looks to have a fair amount to say about this new environment too, and I must admit that I got a smirk out of describing a wandering ‘survey cow’ robot as being the centerpiece of a pastoral scene.

The Signal From Tölva is around £15//$20 on SteamItchGOG, and the Humble Store. If I were a betting man, I’d wager that the Polar Regions expansions would hit the Steam version first, followed by Itch second and GOG third.

Disclosure: In the Before Times, before I started cluttering up your news feeds, legend tells that one ‘Jim Rossignol’ co-founded this lovely website. He apparently got bored and decided to leave to make games about robots and space ghosts instead, The Signal From Tölva being one of them. Beyond that, I don’t know much about him.

18 Comments

  1. Premium User Badge

    Earl-Grey says:

    CRONYISM!

    Eat the powerful gaming journo-elite!

    • Dominic Tarason says:

      We tried, but they were too powerful! Presumably from eating the less elite…

      • Premium User Badge

        Earl-Grey says:

        Typical elite games-journo fat cat.
        Filling their bowels with those less elite.

  2. MrCrun says:

    It’s a bit over a fiver on Fanatical.com right now.
    Also no-one with that name should mention eating as it’s made me thirsty. I’m boiling a kettle right now.

    • clockworkrat says:

      I usually find boiled water makes for a better cup of tea (or coffee if you’re one of those continental types).

    • ludde says:

      Never seen this site before. It’s not one of those that rips off the devs, right?

  3. Red_Fox says:

    Mentioning S.T.A.L.K.E.R. in the first sentence was a mistake, because it instantly set the bar very high for the game you were really writing about.

    This game is no stalker. I can’t think of any other game since then that creeped the shit out of me, or gave me the dread I had when I knew a pack of invisible bloodsuckers were after me. Or when one jumped out of thick high swamp grass, or if I had to go into its lair.

    The fact that there isn’t a new stalker game every 3-4 years is one of the greatest injustices of gaming.

  4. Stevostin says:

    I don’t get how that video appeal to FPS veteran with a big FOV (which isn’t that good for immersion/exploration BTW) yet ruin their hope with a terrible running at hostile while shooting gameplay. This is EXACTLY what you never ever do in a FPS like STALKER, and why it’s still a shinning beacon to this day of man shooting.

    Pity though because the game has talent, with nice visuals, sounds, gun feel. Robots are so well animated, why don’t we play humans ? Let’s face it, inflicting death & pain to other humans is a big part of the joy of gaming. FPS without screams of agony aren’t nearly as appealing as FPS which gets that.

    • unacom says:

      I gather you didn´t like Portal, then.
      Do you really think that the joy of gaming lies, in large parts, in inflicting pain and death on humans? Why´s that so, in your opinion? Is that a prerequisite for shooters, or for games in general? Why does it make a difference if you play as a human?
      I do like me a good shooty-bang. But killing off humans ain´t where the fun comes from, for me.
      For example, I really enjoyed Alien versus Predator, especially hunting Aliens as said Predator.
      I really enjoyed not killing humans as JC Denton in Deus Ex.
      STALKER is, in my opinion, one of the best first-person shooters, exactly because it pits you against a much greater menace than mere humans could be – loneliness in a malevolent nature.
      First person shooters work (or fail), for me, through so many mechanics:
      their spaces or maps and their boundaries (STALKER, Chaser, CHROME, as well as Unreal Tournament and Quake come to mind);
      light (one of the best friggin FPS-moments? -the blinding light after leaving the vault for the first time in Fallout 3) and darkness (the baroque juxtaposition of light and darkness in Doom 3 is marvellous);
      speed (think Unreal Tournament) or lack of speed (Operation Flashpoint);
      I don´t deny the sheer joy blasting, stabbing or sawing some “livig being” to kingdom come (Blood, Duke 3d, Redneck Rampage, Shadow Warrior, Starship Troopers… you get it) can bring. But, for me, that never was the core part.

  5. Wednesday says:

    Is Tolva any good?

    Wasn’t so hot on Sir.

    • Person of Interest says:

      I didn’t try Sir, but I did finish Tölva last year, and in that sense it’s remarkable because I rarely bother to finish a game.

      Hard to call it “good”: its gunplay, teammate and enemy AI, and performance are all meh, bordering on bad. But it has plenty of mysterious things to investigate and little systems to master, which was satisfying and why I kept coming back to it. The story snippets intrigued me, and there are pleasing graphics and sound flourishes such as the dropships and robot chatter, and other foreign bleeps and bloops.

      Tölva has a soul, and a feel, that more than make up for the fact that it’s objectively bad as a game. In that sense, I draw a line directly to it from S.T.A.L.K.E.R.

      • Avioto says:

        I thought the gunplay was better than most shooters these days. Every gun feels and sounds unique. As far as modern games go, I would only put Destiny 1/2’s gunplay above Signal’s. PCGamer wrote a pretty interesting article about it in my opinion. link to pcgamer.com

        It’s surprisingly rare to find good gunplay in shooters these days.

        • Person of Interest says:

          Oddly enough, Destiny 2 has my least-favorite gunplay in ages. :)

          But I agree with the Cheery RPS Fanzine’s take on the lovely audiovisual gun effects. My complaint is the combat cycle consisted of shooting a bit, then running in circles around a rock while all four of my health and ammo meters recharged. Maybe there’s another way to play, but I settled on that technique after some trial and error.

          • Avioto says:

            I’m really curious which games do have good gunplay in your opinion? Because I’ve never met anyone who doesn’t like Destiny’s gunplay!

      • Premium User Badge

        phuzz says:

        I wouldn’t say the actual gameplay is bad, but it is pretty meh.
        You’re right though, it does have that spark of ‘soul’ or something.

  6. Ham Solo says:

    I like the game, but the comparison to S.T.A.L.K.E.R. is simply not right.

  7. Nova says:

    @Ham Solo
    Not in a direct comparison, but quite a few of the ideas are there.
    The world doesn’t revolve around you.
    There are different factions that fight among themselves for control of the sectors.
    There’s a lot of exploring instead of the constant shooting that you have in most FPS.
    Rich atmosphere (although that’s subjective I guess).
    A similar sense of mystery, of things you can’t quite grasp.
    I even found it bordering on creepy at times, but of course nothing like the underground facilities of Stalker.

  8. DantronLesotho says:

    I think about this game a lot and occasionally come back to play it, even though I have beaten it a couple times. I think it’s kind of underrated as an idea of having an exploration shooter that you don’t necessarily have to listen to the audio to (although it’s swell) because all the dialog is in text. Because of this, I’m able to sort of play the game casually while I have something else on in the background, and that is quite nice. I’m really looking forward to the expansion; I want to find out more about the ancient alien stuff. I hope that’s in there.