๐ŸŽ™️ Not For Broadcast | PC | Review | "Chuck Five Nights At Freddy’s and Papers Please Into The Telepods From The Fly" ๐ŸŽ™️ @PixelHunted @notgamesuk #GameDev #IndieGames

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Chuck Five Nights At Freddy’s and Papers Please into the telepods from The Fly and something like Not for Broadcast would squirm out of the other end. 

You are a broadcast engineer, tasked with making sure the nightly news looks professional and well-edited.
At first the number of things to do is dizzying. You must switch cameras to keep focus on who’s talking, bleep out any swearing, keep an eye on interference to the signal, cue up and play advertisements, edit in time to music and choose which images will accompany each news item. That’s all on top of monitoring six simultaneous video feeds, your four in-studio cameras, the editing window and what’s actually being broadcast.

This quickly becomes a plate-spinning exercise, with the pressure dialling up as you have to prioritise tasks, rapidly change focus and pay attention to what’s going on in the studio. Get it right and your viewers increase. Screw up and they’ll tune out by the thousand.

If that sounds complicated... it is. Fortunately, you’re eased into it bit-by-bit through a funny tutorial that takes you through each function of your console one-by-one. After a few hours of playing I was multitasking like a pro: using keyboard shortcuts to swap camera feeds by audio alone while my attention was on another task. Getting better at the game feels very satisfying - with a decent string of well-timed edits feeling a bit like nailing a tricky combo in Street Fighter or clearing a room in Superhot.

I had a tonne of fun with the mechanics of Not for Broadcast, but what really elevates the game is the way it teaches you to be critical of news media. You quickly learn that there’s ‘the truth’ and ‘the truth’ - and your editing decisions will allow you to massage public opinion. 

Should you show the government as smiling professionals or slovenly grumps?
What spin will you put on the huge corporations opposing their taxes plans? 
Is a burgeoning rebellion something to be suppressed or tacitly supported?

One of the best insights the game provides is how easy it is to gloss over the content of the news you’re packaging. Okay, the ruling party may be unveiling a new policy to euthanise the elderly, but what’s important right now is that Camera 2 is zeroed in on them and you’re poised to capture the presenter’s reaction shot in three… two... and... cut! Wait, what was that about sending Granny to the death camps?

That the game works so well is testament to the amount of work that’s clearly gone into Not for Broadcast. Most impressive are the hours of FMV, which feature a full cast of characters, a good approximation of 1980s television aesthetics and are largely well-written and performed. Sure, some of the acting gets a little broad and some of the more self-consciously wacky jokes don’t land, but it has an acceptable hit/miss ratio.

There are some bigger flies in the ointment. The biggest one is the ‘Telethon’ episode, recently inserted when the cast was able to film together after lockdown. The conceit is that you’re working with vintage footage from a disastrous black-and-white broadcast from the 60s. It’s a nice concept, but slams the brakes on the plot and drags on for ages (while effectively telling the same joke over and over). If it were an optional bonus episode that’d be one thing, but crowbarring it into the story just doesn’t work.

Also, between episodes, you must make domestic decisions about your family in half-baked choose-your-adventure text sequences. The supporting characters are underwritten stereotypes and right now they feel like a quick bit of filler sandwiched between the meat of the editing action.

Beyond that, I found a couple of replicable hard crashes that really should be ironed out (they came when selecting footage in the ‘Rushes’ gallery - my advice is to save immediately after completing an episode and review your output from the main menu).

Quibbles aside, I really enjoyed Not for Broadcast. It’s fun to play, made me laugh more than a few times and has given me a fresh perspective on television production. 

What’s available now is the (nicely lengthy) first episode, but I’m absolutely tuning in to see where this story goes next.


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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