25/02/2020

๐Ÿ“ฐ๐ŸŽฅ Headliner: Novinews | Review | PS4 | "A Game That Deserves to Make Headlines" ๐Ÿ“ฐ๐ŸŽฅ @UnboundCreation #IndieGames #GameDev

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Headliner Novinews Review PS4
As the titular Headliner, it’s your job to choose which articles make it into Novinews, the national newspaper of the fictional country ‘Novistan’.

Each choice you make will have an impact not just in the wider world but will also massively affect co-workers, family and friends but can also threaten your very existence.
Presented in a format that’s reminiscent of a very, very light visual novel (this is a good thing), Headliner: Novinews presents the world as a single street to act as a microcosm of what is happening in the further reaches of the world.

If you’ve played Beat Cop, you’ll know what to expect here, in that all places and characters of interest exist on a single 2D ‘street’ which keeps the pace of the game brisk.
Each day – a play through lasts fifteen days - will have you working at your office, choosing which articles make it into the paper and then walking back to your home for the night and seeing what interesting interactions happen along the way.
In the vein of the aforementioned Beat Cop and to an extent, Papers Please, Headliner: Novinews is a sort of more casual experience in that genre whereby personal morals and decisions have a huge impact.

The difference here is that the pace is more relaxed and you aren’t up against any sort of time frame. Effects of decisions that you make at the office will be played out en route to your home that evening, if you choose to ignore evidence of a governmental cover-up or take the side of small, local businesses over mega corporations, for example, you can be sure that the ramifications will make themselves known pretty sharpish and often with surprising consequences. 
Visually the game alternates from the traditional visual novel style when in dialogue to a more stylised 2D visual aesthetic when walking down the main strip of the city and both work well, the conversations tend to be relatively brief and do a good job of giving you a lot of information without it turning into waffle or becoming too dense or overbearing.

The simple animated gestures of the character portraits also reflect mood and personality in a direct way that helps keep the briskness of the pacing up. I enjoyed making my decisions and seeing how they affected the world and more specifically, the people close to me.

The music and sound design in the game overall is really tasty, the ambient crowd sounds and tones of a city at night are reflected in the audio tracks which are so strong and catchy I would genuinely be interested in owning them on vinyl, I was especially fond of the piece of music that plays in your apartment each night.
Summary
With its simplistic gameplay cycle that never feels tedious due to the length of each playthrough (around 60 / 75 minutes) and the focus on narrative, backed up by a great, moody soundscape headliner: Novinews really did suck me in for the few hours that I spent with it.

After completing the game, I played through again, the slightly randomised articles altering the course of my story and the inclusion of a new character for the second run giving enough of a change to make me play through again with some new twists and turns.
This is a game that is designed to be played through multiple times but for me, it’s difficult to play through a title of this genre as I don’t like to make random/opposite choices just to see what happens. It feels like it takes away from the story I crafted for myself.

That said, I enjoyed the game so much I played through another time and I’d happily watch someone else make their own way through the tale.

Unbound Creations have come with an interesting title here that plonked them right on my radar; I’ll definitely be keeping up to speed with their future releases.
Right, I’m off to change the world, one headline at a time.
❄️ RATING: ICE COOL ❄️
Ratings Explained
ICE COOL (Great Game Recommended)
MELTING (Recommended with reservations, one to consider if you are a fan of the genre)
MELTED (Not A Recommended Purchase)

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