Available in early access since the beginning of 2020, Not For Broadcast was released in version 1.0 on January 25, 2022. As a reminder, its concept is quite simple: you play for a news editor, whose job starts on the day a totalitarian regime takes over.
The game offers a large number of choices, divided into two categories: short text adventures and newscasts, which are the highlights of the game. While the narrative structure is fairly linear (in that the story will necessarily end on the same day, regardless of your choices), all of the choices have a major impact on the course of events. For example, advertising a particular company has an impact on its economic success, but also on the lives of its customers. Moreover, the player’s decisions can lead to the death of certain members of his entourage. Moreover, these choices are not simple: a good decision, at first glance, can actually have catastrophic consequences in the long run.
The game contains a total of 16 epilogues. If these depend mostly on a few decisions, they are also decided by the overall picture that emerged: did you decide to support Advance, the totalitarian party, censoring all criticism against them, their opponents or did you remain neutral?
A typical game lasts about 10 hours, but including all the narrative variations, the game contains more than 42 hours of video, with the title incorporating a large number of live-action sequences. This certainly required a significant investment and it deserves to be praised.
The television sequences are by far the largest part of the game. There are a total of ten of them in a game, lasting about 45 minutes. During these, it is necessary to choose commercials and headline images, but also to switch between different camera shots, censor swear words, etc. In early access versions, some complained about this gameplay, which was particularly demanding, to the point that it prevented them from enjoying the story: we have to admit that the developers have listened to the community on this point. Indeed, the game now offers four levels of difficulty, plus advanced options, which allow everyone to experience the title as they wish.
Want a real challenge? The hardcore mode will test your nerves. Just want to enjoy the story? Activate the dedicated mode and get the A+. These options are extremely enjoyable.Unfortunately, there is just one slight flaw: it’s boring. As I said, a TV sequence lasts about 45 minutes (in three parts), involving several choices affecting the story. These moments are really enjoyable, but they are actually very rare: the vast majority of the diary is just switching from one camera to another, which just affects the score.
The game doesn’t offer any option to skip sequences that have no impact on the story: you can load an old chapter, but that’s it. This means that if you want to start again from a certain point, you have to do it all over again. Since these phases are extremely boring, there is little reason to do so, which is a pity, as the story and its multiple branches make you want to explore it.
However, it also uses a lot of humor, much too much for its own good. For example, there are regular references to “biduleball”, an incomprehensible game, the advertisements are often absurd and some of the speakers would make the worst reality show contestants look like Nobel Prize winners in comparison. I like humor a lot, but here it really serves the purpose: one extremely serious sequence can precede another completely absurd one, which seems incoherent and takes the player out of his immersion.
Still, despite the undeniable – and commendable – efforts of the developers, some fundamental problems remain quite visible. In fact, rather than just making TV sequences easier, it should have been possible to skip them, at least in a New Game+. Similarly, it would have been better to rewrite much of the game, to include a more serious tone.
All this would have logically represented too much of a change in direction, so the developers did what they could. The end result is still enjoyable: I had a good time with the game and don’t regret playing it. However, these flaws prevent Not For Broadcast from being a must-have, from being on par with the other titles mentioned in this article: it’s a nice game, which you play with pleasure for a few hours, and then you forget about it without remorse. It’s a pity.