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Signal And Noise: British Science Museum's Transmission

Come see if you're smarter than me.

Transmission is a puzzle game created by the British Science Museum to teach people about the various methods of electronic communication used throughout history. It's educational, which means it's for kids, and because it's a dumb science game for kids, it's okay that I got so insultingly stuck, repeatedly even with all the multiple routes and optional objectives. I'm not the target audience, see. I've got work to do and no you suck.

It's the style that pulled me in: soft tones and clear lines, simple methods for connecting transmitters and receivers so all your data blocks end up in the right places. It's quite relaxing to begin with, though the pace of the early levels is misjudged. It's incredibly slow, painstakingly walking you through the basics of what is, essentially, "light up all the things."

Then there's suddenly more options as the level selection opens out and the complexity of what you're doing increases. Progression from telegraphs to computers adds far more data and receivers to the mix, while antennas give an AoE effect which usually means you have more data than you can use. That's problematic when transceivers then stop working because they're full.

For an educational game, it's surprisingly hard and does a good job of diversifying its simple mechanics as it progresses. The missteps are small, but significant - the difficulty curve is erratic and there's boredom early and frustration later. Eventually the digital tones and dial-up call backs of the soundtrack start to grate as I restart a level for the sixth/twelfth/manyth time.

Despite that, I'll likely continue to bang my head against it just to see what the next set of new doo-dahs are and how they interact. The post-level light show is satisfying and compulsive, particularly once the complexity ramps up. Plus, hey, it's free. Lose a lunchtime to it here or a commute to the mobile version here.

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Ben Barrett


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