More often than not, a series’ halfway point is when the shit really hits the fan. Not For Broadcast backs up a septic truck and fires the pressurised contents into the blades of a wind turbine.
There are still doses of humour; Not For Broadcast is, at its heart, satire. But this newsroom propaganda sim’s second proper episode is the darkest it’s ever been. Think euthanasia was a tough subject to take in the last episode? That’s only the tip of the iceberg in Episode 2. So am I going to spoil it for you? Absolutely not. What I will say is that the choices you make come home to roost; not just the ones you make inside the studio but the family-based conundrums that crop up between the newsroom sections as well.
Once again you’re tasked with keeping the news on air, switching cameras, flipping switches and censoring swears, albeit with a couple of extra mechanics including an overheating bank of power bars that need to be cooled down. But this time around you’re asked to censor speech the government finds inconvenient. Do you fall in line knowing it’ll see you rewarded? Or do you stand up for the truth, despite the risk of bankruptcy when you’re trying to look after your sick mother? Not For Broadcast is as enthralling as it ever was.
What makes Not For Broadcast particularly enthralling, despite my initial objections, is that it’s a leftist government implementing all these questionable policies. Socialism does still feel like a soft target, but it’s a change from games that bring the jackboot down the moment the titles stop rolling. At times, Not For Broadcast seems like a prequel to George Orwell’s 1984. It’s certainly the got the emotional punch of John Hurt drowning his sorrows in gin.
Hang on, though… second episode? That doesn’t sound quite right, and it leads me onto Episode 2’s one flaw. When the world went into lockdown, NotGames, the team behind Not For Broadcast, managed to put out a special lockdown episode. It then went even further and created a retro-styled Telethon episode. As great as these are, neither really advances the story, making Episode 2 the first ‘proper’ continuation of NFB’s tale.
So what’s the problem? The problem is that Not For Broadcast rightly relegates The Telethon to optional content but forces you to play the Lockdown episode to get to Episode 2. So, right now, every time you replay NFB, just to see how your decisions change things, you’re re-playing that whole lockdown episode, for no good reason.
Not For Broadcast Episode 2 is much, much larger than Episode 1, raises the stakes to the stratosphere and readies the game for the final episode which I’m dying to get my hands on. That might not be any time soon, but given the quality of this Episode 2, I can happily wait.