Patching modular synthesis now has its own game, complete with realistic modules and actual signal routing logic puzzles. Meet indie title The Signal State, just released on Steam.

And wow – this isn’t just a logic puzzler that’s a little bit inspired by a virtual Eurorack synth setup. It is what looks like a full-functioning modular rig, complete with an impressive set of modules and pretty panel graphics, ready to put your patching skills to the test. Like, you could actually learn some modulation tricks with this thing. You’ll have to decide whether you use this to practice before modular synthesis, or patch your modular synths, then play this to unwind, or lose track of all reality and just patch things on your screen all day with no sense of the outside world.

Speaking of the outside world, there is a setting for the title:

“Set in a post-apocalyptic future, The Signal State puts your logic skills to the test with complex puzzles inspired by modular synthesizers. Repair machines, rebuild an abandoned farm, and be part of a revolution that will change the fate of agriculture once and for all.”

Okay, so in other words, it’s basically just Superbooth 2031.

Once inside, you begin to solve problems with logic gates and LFOs and VCAs and… you know, your standard modular synth modules. There’s a clever little read-out showing signal over time that almost makes me think you could use this in an electronic music teaching situation.

And the game itself, with some slight steampunk-post-apocalyptic/Half Life makeover, basically looks like VCV Rack. It even has the Notes module from Rack, so it clearly took some inspiration.

It has the expected lineage in real modular. None other than Italian UI and graphic designer Papernoise did the UI for this – the same designer who worked on modules for Mutable Instruments, Hexinverter, WMD, etc. I think we’ll need a studio edition that lets us use these normally.

Of course, this is the obsessive software-modular must-have, especially because it comes with some excellent Steam Achievements. Compete for:

  • “Conditional Logic is overrated anyway”: Solve Radio Amplification Circuit without using any logic modules.
  • Hofstadter’s Law: Solve Drone Pathfinder without using any Signal Delays.
  • Extreme Efficiency: Solve Optimized Signal Repeater in an extremely efficient manner.

… and some easier-looking ones. (Use just 1 VCA?)

So far, the gaming press likes it, which itself impresses me. I’ll have to give it a proper try. It’s the first title out from this developer. There’s a free demo, too.

Great stuff is promised soon. This is not an Early Access title — it is a full release — but they do have some more in the works:

Experiment in sandbox mode: A free-for-all playground without any constraint. Let your imagination go wild.

Create your own puzzles: Try out our puzzle designer or access other players’ creations via Steam Workshop.

Good. I was afraid we’d have to spend some awake time not thinking about synthesizers. Solved! Plus now I can definitely write off the Steam Deck hardware.

The Signal State @ Steam, US$19.99, multilanguage support and a Discord chat

And some of you are evidently already getting carried away – sandbox or no:

It’s fun watching the experts experience modular as a game:

But maybe far more interesting is actually watching the mainstream gaming press try to make sense of this. (What is this weird, archaic way of working with hardware, anyway?) I mean, it’d be like discovering that Super Mario Bros. is actually how plumbing works. (Well, maybe when I do it, but like professionally.)