Release Date: 01/25/2022
Available Exclusively On
Imagine your life as a TV news editor/censor in dystopian England. Now imagine that world with the same humor as Monty Python. The game is actually full of gameplay and it’s not just some weird interactivity so it can be excused as a game. Without mastering the controls and gameplay loop you won’t get very far at all. You sit at a desk with six monitors in front of you and it’s your job to either censor the rebels or the government. Your choices will determine who lives and dies and affect your own personal life.
You start with basic controls and the game doesn’t get too crazy at first. There are four monitors that can be switched between numbers 1-4 and there are green, orange, and red LEDs under each one. The next monitor is the live camera and the last monitor is the delayed broadcast that the people see. You can adjust the volume for each of these broadcasts. On your far left are the power and switches for each board you control. These are only used at the start of each chapter to turn everything on or during certain sequences to mess up your broadcast. On the far right is usually nothing outside of an occasional thing and underneath the desk are video tapes you must load during commercial breaks. It’s important to play some and not others which affects your pay and ranking. Advance is the government tapes and Disrupt are the rebels. It’s important to play the Advance tape during the second break to get max points.
Your main job will be flicking between cameras when the green LEDs light up. Certain shows will only have one fixed camera and you can’t stay on that camera for more than ten seconds or the audience will get bored. You can flick to an orange camera for a few seconds to mix things up, but flick to a red camera, and your ratings drop. Things get tricky later on when people go off script and there are multiple people talking. You also have to watch your censor meter. When people cuss you have to press space during the red segments or your ratings drop fast. Later on, you can censor the Disrupt pro-talk with blue waves or censor Advance pro-government talk with orange waves. The last meter you need to watch is your broadcast signal. This can be adjusted with the mouse wheel once it starts going out of sync. Later on, you can tune in to a Disrupt broadcast for an anti-government playthrough by following the orange waves instead of the white ones.
While that’s the basic gameplay there are some other things added later like audience reactions and during songs you can flick the cameras to the beat of the song for a rating boost (which is really hard and doesn’t ever seem on the beat). You really need to focus and watch those LED colors as they’re the main thing you will watch. Sometimes you can be pro-government or anti-government by keeping the camera on certain subjects or even loading tapes from Disrupt in certain chapters. It’s up to you to censor the people’s voices or play along.
The game is constantly engaging and you never get bored. This gameplay loop sounds fun, but it wouldn’t matter if the content you’re watching is boring. Thankfully, it’s utterly brilliant. The humor is very much along the lines of Monty Python. One broadcast segment has you editing a sports match of people tossing an invisible ball into a trash can. It’s hilarious. Another scene has a reporter, Patrick Banon, not realize he’s live on the air spewing anti-government remarks, his camera woman steps in for him, but Megan Wolfe (the female news anchor and one of the main characters) calls her Patrick Banon to cover everything up. She is now Patrick Banon throughout the rest of the game like no one would know. But it’s all played off like it’s half-serious. The writing is just perfect and I couldn’t stop playing the game to see more of the humor rather than find out if Advance would get overthrown or not.
There are many mockeries of real-life people and events. There’s a COVID-19 pandemic segment in which killer dolls are breaking out of a facility and everyone has to stay in lockdown. There are celebrity mockeries of Chef Gordan Ramsey, Ariana Grande, Donald Trump, and some that could be a swath of other politicians or celebrities. There are so many characters, skits, and segments, even the commercials are hilarious and you can easily miss them if you don’t turn the volume up on the delayed broadcast. Of course, there are elements that are thrown in like killer dolls attacking the studio and you need to click on them before they shut things off, a heatwave that causes equipment to shut down, as well as flickering cameras, and controls that lock up. You will be very entertained during the 9-10 hours it takes to get through one playthrough.
There’s also a second part of the storytelling that I can’t tell if it’s done on purpose or not. You play through a total of seven years as a broadcast editor, but the in-between segments are text-based and shown over what looks like low-budget asset flip-style graphics that you would see on a rip-off Steam game. It’s a stark contrast from the excellent writing and acting, but I think it’s done this way on purpose. You do make a few choices in these segments that affect how your family perceives you. Responding to your daughter or wife a certain way. Your success in being pro-government gives you more money and gives you an easier life which reflects in these segments. I never got attached to myself, Alex, or my family as it just felt like interludes.
With that said, Not for Broadcast is an insanely well-written FMV game with a fun gameplay loop that is easy to learn, but tough to master if you want good ratings. I love the branching paths and the replay value is very high as there are entire skits that you won’t see based on your choices. Every actor is great and especially the character Jeremy Donaldson. He’s a fantastic character and is wonderful to see on screen. I love how you can rewatch the segments and mute each camera to hear what went on in the background while another shot was being broadcasted. Members arguing in the studio in the background is always fun to see. I just wish the checkpoints were closer together. This really hurts the game a bit as some chapters are up to an hour long and you must rewatch for up to 20 minutes to get back to where you failed. I also wanted to jump in at any checkpoint to replay a segment to see the alternative footage, but due to the choices needed in previous chapters, you have to replay the game again each time. For what it’s worth, this is one of the best indie games to come out in recent years and revolutionizes the FMV-style game.