Not For Broadcast is as subtle as a sledgehammer.
Less Brass Eye, more Mrs Brown’s Boys, Not For Broadcast is a title where, during an interview with a moral leader, a man in a gimp mask tumbles out of a cupboard. The choices you’re offered are often oddly binary, along the lines whether you show a picture of a political leader kissing a baby, or tearing the head off a kitten?
And yet, this FMV game had me laughing out loud at its daft set-pieces and absurd characters. Even though I knew, as a newsroom editor, I was supposed to be delivering a smooth, seamless production, flicking between camera angles to keep the audience happy, I had to peek behind the scenes. Watching an interviewee storm onto set, insult the co-host then be nice as pie for the actual interview, was such a spectacle I gladly risked my in-game career to catch it.
While you need to pay attention so you don’t broadcast the same shot for five minutes, or forget to put on the adverts, it’s only on the third and final day that Not For Broadcast becomes particularly taxing. Instead, it’s the strength of the performances that make this early access version of Not For Broadcast so much fun to play. There’s a Legz Akimbo-style play about “issues” which is so earnestly delivered that you’ll be utterly transfixed; and an incomprehensible sports match which is gloriously, gloriously deadpan.
That said, the political elements of the game felt a little weird. Not because they didn’t belong there – politics should have a place in gaming – but because Not For Broadcast seemed to be mocking socialism in a rather clumsy way.
I’m hoping there’s a bigger reveal in the final game, that the Labour government the FMV sections are lampooning turns out to be a 1984 style construction, but so far it just seems to be mocking the idea that the rich should pay more taxes, instead of targeting them as comedy often does.
The segments that crop up between each day, reflecting on how the new government has impacted your family, are more on target. The decisions you make have some impact, though I suspect your choices, both in the FMV and text-based sections, will snowball as the game progresses. Here’s hoping that the game’s final message is deeper just “Vote Labour and you’ll be eating your shoes by the end of the week”.
There’s no set release date but if you want to laugh like an idiot and sway public perception by broadcasting a picture of a vomiting celebrity, Not For Broadcast is on Steam Early Access right now.