Since Cyberpunk 2077 has been delayed (again), I needed to find something to help me get through the wait. So I turned to Steam to find a nice indie game that I could get pretty cheap. Early Access is full of garbage. But now and then, there’s a real gem that shines brighter than some of the best AAA titles. One of those gems is the dystopian propaganda simulator, Not For Broadcast, developed by NotGames Studios.
The game puts the player behind the controls of a very messy news broadcast and presents itself in a very Papers, Please like way. Not For Broadcast gives you a ton of things to keep track of and sometimes very little time to react. The game expected you to monitor the audience ratings, make sure the feed is free from interference, switch cameras, bleep out swear words and play ads in between segments. A lot is going on in this game.
But no matter how hectic things got, as long as I was focused, I always felt like I was in control. It’s very similar to Papers, Please in that way, demanding your full attention at all times or else. It keeps you really engaged in what’s going on.
While Not For Broadcast is still technically in Early Access, the gameplay itself seems to be pretty much done. Everything looks pretty good, the gameplay is solid, and there are very few bugs. If they didn’t change anything before the full release, people would still be happy with the game.
The core of the game is essentially watching a news broadcast and reacting in certain ways. So if what you’re being forced to watch isn’t entertaining, you’re not going to have a good time.
The actual broadcast itself isn’t the funniest thing in the world, but it’s still pretty damn good. The acting is over-the-top, the writting is strange, and the premise of some of the skits are just downright weird. But put all together, it actual works pretty well. It’s the kind of thing I would put on in the background while I played a game on my phone, which is why it works since they are literally making you play a game while you watch it.
Plus, the overarching plot of a dystopian, far left government taking control of England is really interesting. And the way the story has to be told implicitly through various interviews and news stories makes for some really interesting storytelling.
The game also gives you the chance to watch your broadcasts back. So you can see how well you actually did. Plus, this is a good way for someone who doesn’t usually play games to enjoy the skits that were produced.
If Only There Were More
While what’s there is pretty spectacular, there’s really not a whole lot. Currently there are 3 levels as part of episode 1, which take about 15 mins each. Episode 2 was supposed to come out this year, but then there was a pandemic. Usually, a studio would be able to continue working from home, but since this is an FMV game, they need to be able to film, which wasn’t possible for a few months.
NotGames has been able to put out 2 bonus episodes however, Lockdown and The Telethon. Both of which are great and worth a go when you’ve finished the main levels that are there. But the bonus levels don’t really advance the story and are really just there to tire over the players until episode 2 comes out.
Not For Broadcast is fun, entertaining and innovative enough that it really stands out, even though it’s still Early Access. The game has been compared to Papers, Please a lot, but NotGames have differentiated it enough that it really has its own personality that’s so different to anything else.
Even though there’s not a ton of content at the moment, Not For Broadcast has the soul of an indie game and is so worth checking out if you want some variety from the AAA game formula.
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