The Signal State is a post-apocalyptic computer adventure game where you rewire machinery using your signal manipulation skills with a modular synthesizer.
The Signal State
Everything is broken. All the machines stopped working and humanity has had to learn how to rebuild and rewire technology to get it functioning. You find yourself on an abandoned farm, surrounded by broken tractors, generators and agricultural machinery. Your mission is to get the farm up and running so that the community doesn’t starve. The tools you are given to accomplish this death-defying task is……. a modular synth. Eurorack will save us all.
It may sound a bit weird but it’s amazing how quickly it makes sense once you’re playing the game. In fact the story (which is great), the setting (which is beautiful) and the whole reason for being there quickly become a bit irrelevant as you become totally immersed in using your modular skills to solve routing, logic and signal problems.
As an example; you’ve got a machine. You have two signal sources. In order for the machine to work these two signals need to end up at the outputs with certain changes. It may be that the signals simply need to sum, or perhaps signal 1 needs to be twice the size of signal 2 or, as signal 2 steps up and down signal 1 needs to follow it but inverted. To solve the problem you add modules to your rack (think VCV Rack) and patch them together. Once you think it’s right you hit the Play button and it does a test signal pass to show you whether you got it right or not. As you move through the game you are given more modules to help you complete the puzzle and get the right outcome along with a deepening story that gives them an excuse to feed you more puzzles. I’ve only played it for about an hour and I’ve got a Sum module, a Split (or mult) a VCA and an attenuverter and I’ve just about got the lights in the barn working.
Most of the puzzles I’ve encountered so far have been to do with logic and maths where I’m either summing in various degrees or trying to find an outcome by combining the effect of voltages. None of this is how I explore modular synthesis. However, what is brilliant about this game is exactly the way it makes me work against my grain. It’s forcing me to look at how logic systems work which is now making me think about using logic modules in my modular. There are ideas coming up all the time and it’s completely fascinating and mind-bending. It’s like with puzzle 2 I had to subtract two signals but I only had Sum modules. How do you take signals away from each other when all you can do is add them up? After quite a bit of scratching my head, I realised I could use the attenuverter to invert one of the signals so that it had a negative value – obvious right? Yes, to someone with the right sort of brain.
For me, The Signal State is training my brain to think differently about modular signals, control voltages and how to accomplish things I hadn’t previously thought of. We all tend to get stuck in certain ways of doing things and this game can completely release you from that. It’s a fantastic piece of work and everyone with an interest in deepening their modular game should play it.
If you want to see me floundering about with my lack of logic then I’m aiming to do a live stream playthrough tonight from about 8.30pm (link below). Maybe come and help me out! Otherwise, check out Benn Jordan’s video on it where I absolutely share his thoughts on this fabulous game.
The Signal State is available on Steam for PC and Mac for about 15 quid.
- The Signal State website
Live Stream tonight
- The Signal State: The Signal State