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Not For Broadcast - Review

The roles you take on in video games are starting to become more out of the box now, and I’m not talking about roles in role-playing games. What I mean is the job or character you are playing as. What shoes the developers are trying to immerse you in and convey the feeling of it. Video games have always been about giving you a power fantasy or whisking you away to a mystical world, but now we’re starting to get more titles based on real world or realistic experiences. Last year we got a game completely about spaceship disassembly called Hardspace: Siphbreaker, and it was a well-crafted game that rewarded players for working diligently yet carefully. Knowing where to find what they need and work around a rundown ship. Powerwash Simulator, I can’t believe this is a real game, has you running around a small, confined area covered in dirt and just cleaning the entire place up. You make more money by cleaning more surfaces and fully cleaning an area rewards you with full payment. These two aren’t the type of games I would play or, but I respect the developers behind them. If they can take average concepts and get players engaged, then something obviously went right.

I’m always up to playing games outside my comfort zone and favorite genres. Hoping to expose myself to new ideas or genres I never bothered trying. Today we have Not For Broadcast, which is an FMV game where you take the role of a news broadcaster. If you don’t know what FMV is, then allow me to quickly explain. A game that uses FMV uses real captured footage. Think of an actual movie playing from within the game. Her Story is a good example of an FMV game as it uses filmed shorts and real-life actors to show our suspect’s interviews. FMV is kind of cool when you think about it. You’re finding a way to cram in fully acted out videos into your game and develop a game that makes full use of it. However, I feel like there should be a game that allows you to control the FMVs. Not just watch it, but get to plan out what happens or what unravels in the story. While FMV games are innovative, they are restricted to following a set story and you can’t change how they play out on future playthroughs. That all changed early last year.

Not For Broadcast was developed by a small independent studio named NotGames, which is a weird name to give to a company that makes video games. NotGames set it up for early access during the first quarter of 2020, and at the time it consisted of the game’s first episode which is at least three broadcast periods. This initial version of the game was a warmup for what NotGames had in store for the future, and people were buying into what Not For Broadcast was. A compact simulator game set in a dystopian society, and the choices the player made throughout the game would impact future events. More people began to support Not For Broadcast and this gave the studio the money they needed to continue development. Afford expensive props and set pieces, pay for and get more actors, and create an expansive narrative. Of course, there were delays as we all know 2020 was the year of the pandemic. It forced the members and actors of NotGames to work from home, but they managed to keep development going. They have an entire broadcast literally shot during the pandemic, and they play with this idea in-game that the characters are isolating themselves from killer toys outside. That’s what they had to work with to work around real world events! The game’s development was lengthened out more in 2021, and it wasn’t around 2022 when the pandemic was reaching an end that NotGames finished up their game. Almost three years, did Not For Broadcast live up to the anticipation surrounding it? The answer was “yes.” Not For Broadcast was one of the first releases to come out in 2022, and it one of the many gems of the year. It was everything NotGames promised during the original early access release of 2020. Intriguing gameplay loop, a mad political world that went downhill with time, and moral consequences through player choice. It was a small game that had a lot to say, and it even holds the Guinness World Record for having the most FMV footage in a game. Clocking in close to around 423 hours of footage.

I’ve been meaning to play Not For Broadcast for quite a bit of time. Since the game’s released actually! I’ve been following the game since the 2020 early access period and attempted to play it late last year. Unfortunately, my PC hardware wasn’t good enough to run the game and I was a bit disappointed as I really wanted to play the game. Luckily, they announced a console port and I decided to wait until it arrived. I bought the game immediately once it hit PlayStation and finally I could play Not For Broadcast. It is as good as I anticipated and in some cases, it managed to be genius. Not For Broadcast is a masterful experience although a really flawed one. This game has a handful of problems that will drive a majority of players away, but ultimately, I love it. Today we’ll be talking about why I really love Not For Broadcast and why it deserves your attention.


We play as Alex Winston, originally the janitor for Channel One, which is the country’s biggest television channel. The reason why is because it’s home to the National Nightly News. The show that delivers people information on what’s going on in the world and more specifically what’s going on politically. The National Nightly News is run by Jeremy Donaldson & Megan Wolfe, and for a few years now they've been delivering people the hardcore truth. Alex usually mops the floors and cleans the bathrooms of the studio when no one is around, but one day he is told to take over for the broadcast engineer who didn’t show up to work. Boseman, his boss, gives him a quick lecture on how to control the equipment in front of him and within a few seconds Alex becomes an editing champ. Showing he has the skills to possibly be a broadcast engineer, and it turns out he does become one a night afterwards as the studio quickly discovers the previous engineer had fled the country. He was put behind bars and Channel One had to find an easy replacement, that being Alex. You are in charge of broadcasting, making it all fit together, and making sure the National Nightly News doesn’t lose viewership.

Elections have ended and the far left leaning party Advance has won by a landslide. Two prime ministers, Julia Salisbury and Peter Clement, promise to change the country and betterment of the people. Offering programs that will benefit the poor, place heavier taxes on the rich, and hope everyone gets equal representation. Recently, the National Nightly News has been interviewing the two prime ministers and informing their audience from the frontlines. Everything is going to plan, and you are doing your best to obey Advance's new laws. At home, Alex Winston has two kids and a wife to take care of. One of them wishes to participate in programs run by Advance and another one wants to travel overseas. Choice is yours, but you try to maintain balance in the new world. Then some concerning stuff happens. Advance starts ordering Channel One to censor anything that speaks out against them. Understandable, it could be lies. However, there are some people who are trying to make valid claims against Advance and get arrested. Advance starts to heavily tax the people, and you quickly learn a good chunk of that tax money didn’t go to their programs but rather stage plays with no meaning and such. Advance requires citizens to carry “Membership Cards” on them at all times, and not carrying them leads to immediate arrest. The police become more brutal and anyone who doesn’t comply with Advance gets beaten up behind the scenes. The National News stops engaging with real world events and becomes a display of government products. Things get much worse as the weeks pass by.


Not For Broadcast is exactly what it advertises itself as. You manage what is being broadcast, edit footage, and try to keep it all under control as you are live on television. The game is much harder to play than you think. In front of the player are several monitors and buttons. The four screens on the left are the four camera shots they can switch between. The center screen is the film you are currently putting together, and the screen on the right is what’s about to be shown across live television. You want to switch the camera shots to whomever is talking. Failing to keep the camera on whoever is talking will make you lose viewership and keeping it on will increase viewership as the broadcast goes longer. Imagine keeping a consistent combo streak in a spectacle fighter. That's what you want to do here, except it’s part of the job. You’ll also have to pay attention to swear words, as swear words may chase off your viewers and make you lose viewership. Use the censor button to bleed them out and you can perfectly time this by paying attention to what is about to be broadcast on the right screen. Occasionally the frequency will begin to change, and you have to adjust some dials on the bottom right so you can stay within that frequency. Losing that frequency will disrupt what is being broadcast and this will make you lose viewership. You’re also going to want to play ads when an ad break approaches, and this is done by loading tapes into cassette players below your desk and playing them at the right time. Not doing so will, you guessed it, make you lose viewership. You may want to load in the ad cassette tapes before the show begins, and you also want to turn on the power so you can go and actually do stuff. There’s a lot you have to do and you want to constantly be paying attention so don’t lose track. Getting stressed out may lead to screw ups, lost viewership, and a game over.

New mechanics are introduced with future broadcasts, and some will offer different challenges to deal with. One broadcast has you moving a fan up and down so the power valves won’t overheat. If one of the three valves overheats then the power cuts off. Another broadcast has you shocking dolls climbing up the frequency tower outside, and if too many build up on the tower, then you lose frequency. One broadcast has you dealing with buttons that will shock and kill you, another has screens that turn off randomly and buttons that refuse to be pressed down, and much more. Not For Broadcast is a fairly challenging, immersive game but another aspect you will have to consider is choice. The player is offered a variety of choices throughout the game, and they will have long lasting impacts. The choices are a bit light at first, like choosing to advertise a faulty product that is considered dangerous or what pictures to use to represent big figures. Then it gets to the serious political stuff. Advance wants you to censor lines that speak against them, and this gives you a chance to either keep the public under Advance’s control or let them know what other people are going through after Advance took over. Should you show the other side of the truth, or not because you may risk getting in trouble for doing so? Some crucial characters will put their lives on the line, and you have to make careful decisions so they either live or die. Eventually, some bombastic events happen midway through the plot, and you have to decide what party you stand with. I won’t spoil it, but the choices become rough to make later on.

The final aspect I should bring up is Alex’s personal life. It doesn’t have as much an impact as the broadcasting sections, but the choices there are also crucial. As the world changes things for your family will get rough, and what you decide will determine whether all members of the Winston household are alive or dead by the end of the story. You decide what world you want to live in. You decide what dystopia people will walk into and whether they accept said dystopia. The choice is yours to make. Hopefully, you can make the right decisions Mr. Winston.


Not For Broadcast is smartly designed and genius in a lot of areas, but I don’t know how many people will actually play this game. Still, I love this game and I will do the best of my ability to explain why you should absolutely pick it up. The core gameplay loop is good. It requires you to pay attention and decide what camera shots are best to cut to. You can’t speed up the gameplay nor slow it down, and this forces the player to keep a consistent pace. Play patiently and try to maintain a calm manner as frequency disruptions, swear words that need to be censored, and many other distractions pop up in front of them. It’s a game that gets you to do multiple things at once, and any game that conditions the player to do that is amazing. Certain broadcasts switch up the gameplay to offer a change in pace and it prevents the core gameplay loop from getting stale or repetitive. I enjoyed it for what it was, but I know a lot of people may not love it. If you can’t maintain a calm attitude then this game may get frustrating or stressful for some, and the several screens in front of the player are a visual overload to look at. I played this on console and every function of the equipment you had was mapped to a button, but for PC it’s expected for players to have a harder time as they are limited down to a house. Each broadcasting section is pretty long, and while there are checkpoints you can be more than ten minutes into a session, get a game over, and redo a lot of progress. Personally, I thought the game was never too hard nor too easy. It keeps a consistent pace, and there’s multiple difficulty and accessibility options for if you are struggling. The gameplay is great and does a good job immersing you.

The gameplay isn’t the only contributing factor, and Not For Broadcast isn’t just the sum of its parts. The world, story, politics, and moral choice offers a ton of depth to a game railroading you down a set path. Not gonna lie, this is a really political game and attempting to avoid discussing the issues the game talks about is detrimental to this review. I don't endorse any of the views this game has, and I want to clarify this so no one believes any of the statements Not For Broadcast says. I do, however, think the political topics of the game have a lot to say. Not For Broadcast is a game about living in a society full of lies and deception. Advance is a left leaning government who promises to offer a luxurious society for the people, but in many ways, they end up screwing the world over. They run off with the people’s tax money and fund absolutely useless programs that go against what they promised. They refuse to let anybody speak out against them, and they start brutally beating anyone who dares to go against their rule. They become this dictatorship. This regime wants nothing but to better themselves and have believers who bend to their will. Then halfway through the story they introduce a rebel faction. People who want to go against Advance and all the terrible things they’ve done. How Advance taught the public to think all rich and old people are evil, that they should be abandoned, and we should embrace segregating them. Which isn’t a lifestyle we should follow as all that creates is hatred. Some players may hate how Advance represents the left party and that’s understandable, but maybe the writers were trying to address the right party in our world. Switch both roles and see how it feels to them. To be abandoned by society and be treated wrongfully.

Then this revolutionary faction starts using violence to defend their beliefs, and you have to ask who is right? Should we trust a government run by tyrants, or a government run by radicals? Every choice in this game is difficult to make, even the smallest ones. Not For Broadcast follows the design philosophy Papers, Please has where doing your job becomes easy, but being a good person is actually difficult especially with the circumstances you face. You could do your job, get paid well, and provide for your family, but grow up in a terrible world. You could attempt to help create a better world at the risk of getting paid worse, possibly be arrested, and not be able to get what your family needs. A game that fully considers every choice available is better than a game that tries to guide you towards what it believes is the right decision. The player should choose what they think is best, not the game. This game has some of the best morality I’ve seen since New Vegas. and I’m being truthful when I say this.

Remember, this game is not perfect. Some aspects of the writing don’t work, may not work for certain players, or fail to stick the landing. Alex’s personal life doesn’t really do anything to help change the world, but I like it because it has a personal impact on the player characters. See how the world affects them and how trying to provide for those they care about gets them hurt later down the line. It doesn’t do anything gameplay wise and neither does the money you make. You get scored on how well you put together live footage and better scores give you higher pay. It’s not like Papers, Please think where you need to carefully use your funds. Money is something you never have to consider as you don’t have to worry about the house you live in, medicine, or food like in Papers, Please. The game has good political concepts, but it doesn’t always work well with the satire they try to cram in. Not For Broadcast tries to make fun of British television and I like the style of comedy this game has. It’s ridiculous, but not too ridiculous or indulgent in itself. I enjoyed it, but not every joke was good, and I will admit a majority of players will hate this sense of comedy. There were times the political messaging was ruined by the satire butting in. My only other complaint is that the game is buggy. You need a high-performance PC for the game to actually work, and if not, the screens you work with will freeze. On consoles the game tends to stutter, but this problem only occurred during long play sessions. Other than that, the game is fantastic. Not For Broadcast is a flawed masterpiece. It’s definitely not for everyone, but if you can get into it the game will win your heart over in the end. I strongly recommend it nonetheless. I am going to give Not For Broadcast a 9.5/10 for excellence at best.

9.5/10, Excellence

This critique was written by the single man at Review on. Stay tuned for more content and feel free to check more reviews out over at my site!

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