I am a cog in the machine of a gradually approaching dystopia. My job is to handle the nightly news in an alternative-history variation of 1980 s Britain, producing the live occasions as they take place. This full-motion video game shows me newscasters, directors promoting their movies, politicians, and business owners on a range of screens, and it’s my task to make some sense out of it for the audience that tunes in every night to get the “news.”
I get to document their increase.
On the other hand, I also have to handle the interview of a guy named Tit-wank Tony, and decide whether to advertise an Elon Musk-esque transit tunnel that’s given the acronym of MOOBS (Mobile Orientation Operation Burrowing System).
Is Not for Broadcast goofy slapstick, or a political story with teeth? It’s both. Kind of. Mainly? It gets odd, real fast. And, it ends up, producing live news is tough
Picking up control
Not for Broadcast is an early access title; this release includes a huge portion of story and several missions, however there will be more to come with additional polish added to the existing parts. I take the role of broadcast operator, which comes with a special set of controls. Fortunately, there’s a robust tutorial, where my buddy calls into the studio and strolls me through whatever I require to do. At the end of the call, he tells me this is my job now.
I do not move around too much in Not for Broadcast; I’m stuck at my station. I get to choose which of those screens to display on the broadcast screen, which is smack in the middle.
I have to enjoy all of those screens, and then look at the console below them, which permits me to change screens, choose images to show the audience, run commercials, and censor out any regrettable swears. And I have to do this all in real time.
It’s initially chaotic, but there are a couple of easy rules that clarify things. I wish to put the video camera on whoever’s talking, however things get boring if I stay on a single shot for too long. I fall under a comfortable rhythm: Shot, response shot, broad shot, go to commercials. I begin to feel as if I’m in control, and that’s a heady feeling.
Not for Broadcast‘s special gameplay gives me a concept of how challenging that is.
It’s hard, and it’s an ability I have not truly thought about or built up naturally, but it’s satisfying when I start to see the outcomes of my tough work on screen.
I begin to take pleasure in putting together a great broadcast.
I also have to bleep swear words– I need to enjoy a swear monitor on my station and slam the area bar at the best moment– or I earn less money and get a note on my permanent record. Occasional power surges mean I lose control of specific keys.
If I succeed, I’m rewarded with some in-game cash, which I can utilize to upgrade and decorate my station. A few of these purchases are simply bobbleheads or posters; other upgrades have tangible impacts, like lowering the quantity of electrical rises.
That sets up the rhythm of the video game. I appear for work, and after that I need to go through the day’s news. That news is divided up into a set variety of sections. The very first might be a run through early morning news, while a later one might focus on me speaking with a director or a special interview with a politician. As soon as the day is done, I’m graded on each sector.
All of this sounds mechanically thick, however it becomes more art than science. I seem like a true professional when regional teens come to the studio to perform a play about relationship, and I’m changing cams to bring their (awful, incompetent, just truly terrible) vision to life. After I’m finished with a level, I can go back and enjoy my cut … or I can check each private feed, uncovering little Easter eggs and littles dialogue from other members of the news staff that it would have been disastrous to broadcast.
There’s not much gameplay reward to do this– I can run to the end of the game if I prefer– but it’s fun to uncover secrets, or discover clips of the news anchor sniping with the makeup artist.
Mechanics-wise, Not For Broadcast sells my occupation perfectly. The problem is with the story built around it.
Tone is everything
After a long day at my task at the propaganda mill, I go home and experience family life through short text-based vignettes. Britain is changing around me, thanks to the election of the far-left Advance celebration. These advanced political leaders believe in forcible redistribution of wealth, detailed end-of-life care, the general public holding stock in corporations, and other Labour-ish policies. The game is set before the era of Brexit, however with the current British election, I anticipated some type of appropriate, modern commentary on politicians like Jeremy Corbyn and Boris Johnson. It never gets here.
It’s clear that Not for Broadcast desires me to seem like I’m navigating a tense dystopia of misinformation and spin. The framing is all very severe; even the time out music is cooling! In the text sections of the video game, my brother-in-law shows up on my doorstep to plead for my passport so he can escape the country, fleeing the government with his properties. I decline, because pay your taxes, Chris, you ass The option to keep my passport crops up once again and again, as my household relationships become strained.
It’s all very overbearing and worrying– until we get back into the broadcast. There, the sectors I edit veer back into “Yakety Sax”- level slapstick.
That specific scenario was a dumb and lazy joke, however there are moments where I can see incredible capacity in a variation of Not for Broadcast that really focuses on the comedy of what’s going on. The previously mentioned regional sports competition takes place around a fictional sport; there are some enjoyable smash cuts to brand-new, unexpected scenarios, and zany made-up rules that legally make me guffaw.
But then we’re back to the politics again, and the video game leans over to elbow me in the ribs. “Hey,” it whispers. “Do not look now, but the Advance celebration is looking quite dubious … am I right?”
I don’t understand, video game, you’re laying it on quite thick.
I like Not for Broadcast, however it looks like a The Fly– style experiment grafted together from 2 different video games.
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