Power that panel, cue camera 1, and for God’s sake don’t forget to throw to adverts!
Not For Broadcast is a unique newsroom simulator that is easy to fall in love with. Filled with cheeky advertisements, full-motion video segments, and lots of narrative choice in between, you’ll find surprising joy in being in a state of information overload. Developer NotGames is on to something with this Early Access gem that is quickly gaining praise from all who give it a shot. The concept is simple really. You sit at a broadcast console and control four camera angles at a time. While deciding the shot, you must also man the censor button for curses, a bar to keep your signal clear, and choices for which advertisement to run. While this all sounds simple, timing is everything. Early on, you get cues for when to do certain actions. However, as the game progresses, you’ll have to pick up on when to switch to what on your own.
Not For Broadcast cleverly weaves a story in there as well. As the one who controls the board, you can choose how the public perceives the government as well as others. Reactions can be very telling in interviews and you can choose which ones to show and which ones not to. Of course, if you make one too many mistakes, you will get fired.
Not For Broadcasts’ full-motion video segments are essentially these dark British comedy segments that are quite funny. While it is clear that the segments are cheaply done, the quality somehow fits the mood and theme of the game. The boss sounds sleazy and as a result, while the anchors don’t seem highly prestigious either. Each bit played falls in line with an unmistakable atmosphere that beautifully teeters on the edge of chaos. Of course, you are the one with the power to push towards or away from that chaos. As you can imagine, that power that Not For Broadcast gives you is a huge rush.
Not For Broadcast is a bit more difficult than it would seem. As these segments play out, you are forced to train your eyes to watch multiple screens. You must also train your ears to catch conversational cues as you have the audio of the live broadcast playing at the same time. The flood of info you manage is very time-sensitive and you must keep it all in order. Eventually, you get into a groove. The first go around, it is hard not to just sit and watch the segment just to enjoy the chaos that ensues. Of course, if you do that, you lose your audience and can’t push forward.
It’s worth mentioning that some choices do vary how the segment progresses a little bit. Since your choices are pushing part of the story, it is understandable that some of the dialogue would and does change. As the development progresses, I would hope that the game allows for a bit of variation in how the story plays out beyond a predictable two ending formula. I’m curious how costly or difficult it is to make all of the full-motion videos as that aspect probably is the limiting factor regardless of the segment quality.
In early access, Not For Broadcast is hoping for a lot of feedback from the community to push the game forward. If this early 2-3 hour slice of the game is a sign of what the finished product will be, then the developers may have a big hit on their hands!