Not For Broadcast is currently in Early Access. The first few episodes are available to play through already, but there is more to come. The developers offer a free prologue, so you can see what you’re getting yourself into before buying the game!
This is an FMV (full motion video) parody game that simulates the control room of a news broadcasting studio. Your job (as the janitor who stumbled in when the person who should be doing the job didn’t manage to get there in time) is to make sure that the broadcast is smooth, that the viewer count is increasing, that ads are running and swear words are censored. You also need to decide which camera to use and for how long the shot will be shown before switching to a different angle or view. You can also choose to not change the camera and broadcast scenes that the public maybe shouldn’t be seeing.
The game is set in an alternate reality in the 1980s. The basic storyline (without spoilers) is that a political party whose goal is to redistribute wealth from the rich to everybody else has won the recent election. You work in a broadcasting studio as a janitor, but when the game begins, you’re in the control room for the National Nightly News. It starts out being very silly and absurd, basically what you would expect from a parody. But according to the developers and the teaser video at the end of the currently released content, the game is getting darker and darker with each episode.
Not all the story is always relevant to the main storyline. For example, there is an old broadcast that you’re asked to edit (but I just found that this is actually a bonus episode!). There is also the “lockdown” episode which, as the name suggests, was developed during the Corona-lockdown. There is an interesting article about the production and how this episode came to be on Gamespew. I think it works really well with the storyline and it’s great to see that they did what they could to give us more content during this time!
But back to the gameplay: In general, you have to select one of up to four monitors. You should always focus on the person speaking, but not for too long as that would be boring for the viewers. So after several seconds, you can switch to the camera that shows all the people present in the interview or show the reaction of the other person who is not currently speaking. Some broadcasts come with extra challenges. One had you weathering a storm and parts of the board were getting you electrocuted when you pushed a certain button. At the same time, you still need to decide which monitor to use and you need to censor words while trying not to get electrocuted (too often) yourself.
Often times, I found myself so busy controlling everything that I completely missed what was happening in the broadcast. Or I was too focussed on one part of the control board that I forgot to take care of something else, censoring swear words, for example. You get graded for your performance, so that’s annoying if you want to get a good score! Thankfully, the game lets you replay after certain parts of the episode. And after the whole episode is finished, you can enter the archive and watch a re-run. This mode also lets you see what happened behind the cameras while you were showing an ad or switching to an interview partner and the mics of the other ones involved were muted for the broadcast. Or you can decide just to broadcast what the people “behind the scenes” are doing and saying if you want.
In between the broadcast, you get text which sometimes offers you different choices. I don’t know yet what kind of effect these choices have. But the game is supposedly branching. These text bits focus on your character and his family. For example, I could choose whether we would try to come up with money for our daughter to take a trip or whether she just couldn’t go. I don’t know exactly which consequences these parts have, but I did experience… a seemingly unrelated song that oddly enough featured a previous decision I made.
The silly tone and absurbidity make the game really charming. It is hard to describe it all without writing any spoilers here, so I am deliberately staying really vague, only describing the atmosphere of everything. The developers posted a roadmap, so we can see what’s planned to come to the game in the future.
The video sequences all have a really good quality and I love the actresses and actors! Even the lockdown episode is very well done and believable.
My verdict: Highly recommended! My personal opinion is that this is a brilliant game with perfect British humour and a real indie gem!
But as always, use this to judge for yourself if it is a game you would like to have and since it is still in Early Access, you never know if it does get finished. In other words, only buy it if what is there right now is enough for you to enjoy and give the free prologue a try first! I finished playing through the content currently available and really loved every minute of it, even when the content I saw was too weird sometimes (students showing a prototype of a musical they are working on… I personally could have lived without seeing that, but all of this makes the game as funny as it is!).