Not For Broadcast: Live & Spooky is smart, funny and, on occasion, downright chilling. But sometimes it feels a little too like trial end error.
It’s not often we grumble about a game being too interactive, but Not For Broadcast: Live & Spooky would have benefited from being a tad more linear. To its credit, NotGames has tried to do something with this, the first paid piece of Not For Broadcast DLC, and we tip our hats to the team for that.
And, like the news sim that spawned it, its humour is absolutely on point, particularly if you’ve ever set through an episode of Most Haunted or any similar ghost-hunting show. It sees a team of investigators exploring an apparently haunted sound stage, ably assisted by you, the broadcast suite operator.
Live & Spooky features some excellent performances during its 50 minute plus run. George Vere’s Patrick Bannon is as abrasive as his father (also played by Vere) but it’s Michael Duran who steals the show as spirit medium Wayne De Spiritwhistle.
A Liverpudlian Derek Acorah, he’s the glue that holds the whole show together. He heroically wrangles Bannon, who’s only there for contractual reasons. And when things take a turn for the supernatural, Duran juggles Spiritwhistle’s screen persona with his portrayal of a man who wishes he’d brought his brown trousers.
We’re not going to risk spoiling things but let’s just say there’s more to the studio’s history than anyone knew. So, moving from camera to camera and keeping the presenters safe with a switch-flipping minigame, it’s up to you to get to the bottom of the spooky goings on.
And that’s where Live & Spooky stumbles. It professes to be interactive and to be fair, it tries. But there’s an awful lot of guesswork involved in uncovering the truth. Take the first third of the DLC, for example. On several occasions, you get to choose which part of the studio the team investigate, from a selection of four.
It’s an intriguing addition and, when we first heard about it, we were excited to test it out. But after the first room there are no hints as to which order to visit the other ones in or why. And then the game berates you for failing to uncover the first mini-mystery. Twice.
Maybe the idea is that you replay the game, Groundhog Day style, making the “right” decision next time around? But even if you do reload an earlier checkpoint there’s no way to skip the scenes you’ve already watched. There are other determinant events but a couple of those are a little fuzzy.
Not For Broadcast: Live & Spooky is still a blast and if you’ve been craving more of the main game’s humour and charm, you’ll find it here. Patrick Bannon is someone you’ll love to hate and Live & Spooky couldn’t happen to a nicer person.
Will you regret forking out the £7.99 asking price? Probably not, and with two more DLCs in the works (Bits of Your Life and The Timeloop) we’re eager to see what NotGames delivers next. Just be prepared for Live and Spooky’s more trial-and-error aspects to nibble away at your joy.