If only the antenna wasn’t the first thing broken.
Incoming Transmission is a co-op puzzle game wherein a team tries to complete a set of repairs to a space station. One player is given the details of a mission to accomplish, then broadcasts that to the repair crew on site. The problem? That transmission gets garbled.
The game is played on a simple 5-5 grid of tiles, randomized each playthrough. The player acting as mission control knows exactly what needs to be done to the station represented by those 25 tiles, but they can’t communicate that directly to the other players. Instead, they are allowed a deck of cards that have basic actions on them such as movement in cardinal directions, taking and leaving objects, and enacting repairs.
That deck gets shuffled. Certain game elements may direct how much, if any, information the crew receiving the deck gets to know about how it was previously arranged.
Then the player(s) acting as the repair crew try to sort out what mission control meant for them to do with those instructions. Through of a combination of deduction, observation, and hints the mission controller might be able to leave solely through their card selections, the crew has to lay out the instructions in order and execute them.
Play proceeds through a number of rounds, after which the crew fails if they have not fully repaired the station.
Despite a fuzzy upper limit on players, there will only ever be two roles: mission control and crew (or cadet). Additional players simply add to the repair side, and all will act in concert as a single entity.
The fun in this one is the cooperative lock-and-key style puzzle solving. You’re not just taking clues from a rulebook or a deck of hint cards; your teammate at mission control is just as vital in solving the puzzle as the repair crew. By certain choices in the options given, they can guide the order of repairs, acquisition of parts, and the path taken to reduce the uncertainty and make clear (or as clear as possible) the goals they are directing the repair crew to achieve.
It’s a simple game to learn, doesn’t take long to set up or play, and the replay value comes in the form of the human interaction between the two cooperating sides.
Like any such hidden information co-op game, there are risks that hints or signaling can ruin the intentionally broken link between the two sides. But you’re the ones playing; if you don’t have the poker face for being mission control, maybe this one isn’t the game for you.
For everyone else, this is a fun little filler game that allows you to fix space stations on the side.