Trash TV Review – Platforming with a Recyclable Charm

Let’s try a quick exercise: When you hear that a game is named ‘Trash TV,’ what kind of game do you think of? Just think of the first couple of things that pop into your head and continue reading the review. Don’t worry, I’ll wait!

So, did you think of an adventure game with a gritty protagonist who has sickening sense of humor? Did you imagine a satire of mainstream media and a main character who parodies popular commercials for beauty products? If so, then congratulations! We would be a high school lab partner match made in heaven.

Yet, much like a mislabeled test tube between acids and bases, not everything is what it appears to be, leaving us with a fragmented environment and an odd sensation. Thankfully, in this platform video game, this feeling will probably be enjoyment instead of the rising fear of possible irradiation.

What is this game about? How do I win?

Out of the shadowed and dimly lit hallways, colorful pixels descend into a lone, pre-21st century television. In a spiraling dance, these mysterious beings unite together in the console to create the television’s first sign of life.

Behold! The miracle of life! (Results may vary)
Behold! The miracle of life! (Results may vary)

From darkened beginnings, the walking television recalls of their past life, living freely and choosing channels with the use of a remote control. Now abandoned in the recesses of a desolate garbage facility, you must venture through the factory and collect weaponry to reclaim the once familiar device. However, be warned, as decaying appliances, deteriorating structures and dangerous factory equipment impedes your journey to be free of this indifferent world.

What is the gameplay like?

Smooth and tranquil with a blend of quick and urgency, Trash TV offers plenty for the players, including mild confusion. The game starts out like most puzzle platforms by teaching the player what triggers to push and what obstacles to avoid, with the exception of controls (which you can easily adjust in the menu). Afterwards, the game will progress by attaining multiple weaponry, including a handgun, crossbow, and even dual Uzis. Imagine as a walking, living television set works their way through a factory while firing two machine guns in opposite directions with infinite ammo.

Now, if you heard that this game’s title was TV Trash, would this be the gameplay you would imagine?

Probably been watching some late-night action films, no doubt.
Probably been watching some late-night action films, no doubt.

Still, I don’t want to dissuade anyone from the odd connotation of gun wielding television sets with the ability to have fun! While strange in its execution, TV Trash has a lot of great features that makes the experience exciting and surprising memorable. The controls are well handled and the smooth animation of moving, stopping, and jumping is not only easy on the eyes, but also has an excellent sense of weight. Speaking of which, the various guns each have a unique function, including bullet speed and ammo type. One of the great applications of the variance is that using some weapons can lead to your death, including not taking into account that a machine gun can propel you backwards and into molten lava. A little irritating, but not enough to think the game is not trying to punish you.

Along with this, the soundtrack creates a hollow, yet calming mood that has a distinct affect on the gameplay. Granted, most of the obstacles are trying to crush you or push you into grinding gears, but the atmosphere shows a level of indifference, not malevolence. I deeply appreciate games that can go beyond the typical ‘good versus evil’ conflict and present the world as both real, saddening and uplifting all in one medium.

Comparing both gameplay and soundtrack together, I got the feel of playing Portal while listening to the soundtrack of Mirror’s Edge; Both games I adore incredibly. Though not entirely unique, I enjoyed discovering new weaponry and its usage while journeying through this dimly lit atmosphere.

What else should I know about this game?

I enjoy the simple things in life. Likewise, I enjoy the simple aspects of gaming, whether it be easy game mechanics, minimalistic designs or a short, but unique storyline. Trash TV has all these features, but I’m afraid to say the simplicity of it all almost works against it. Even though I thought the ending was unique and actually left me in silence, there was still a desire to want more from the story.

Plenty of areas offer dead ends and little hallways look like they offer hidden secrets but ultimately go nowhere. Encrypted messages you find throughout the game are startling, but offer little to make sense of the game around it. Appliances that make you lose control of your little television buddy is shocking, but never explained as to why it happens or why it effects other machines. Most of the game functions as if the entire garbage facility shrugged and said, ‘Just because.’

Literally throw your companion in. Trust me, would Obi-Wan lie to you?
Literally throw your companion in. Trust me, would Obi-Wan lie to you?

Furthermore, the environment is so simple, it’s rather ‘recyclable.’ By this, I mean that the platforms, panels, moving pistons, and so on are not really original and seem more like a cut-and-paste feature in an RPG game model. I would overlook this aspect if the game did not appear as polished or neatly orchestrated in gameplay mechanics. Looking at these two downfalls, I would often find that determining whether or not this game was worthwhile should be an easy choice. And yet, it still works.

Overall, what did you think?

Protect the TV at all costs
Protect the TV at all costs

After I spent some time away from finishing this game, I discovered that I could remember plenty of material. Not only was I able to recognize what my goal was or the puzzles I encountered, but I easily remembered what weapons I used and how I solved it, often not out of frustration, but satisfaction. To make a successful puzzle platform game, I realize that making the project both remarkable and memorable is a daring experiment. And that’s what Trash TV is; A remarkable, polished experiment.

While it may be blending plenty of ideas to the mix that may not work to the game’s simplicity, the overall impression I was left with was a charming and pleasant experience. Following a television set’s journey to find a remote control while managing a wide variance of weaponry may not fit with the title, but it’s a small obstacle for a simple game that I truly enjoyed.

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