Guide - Updated on September 24, 2022

The first episode of Not For Broadcast, the witty simulation of the evening news director, was released in early 2020. The path of the game to a full-fledged release stretched for two whole years. The plans of the developers were confused by the pandemic: filming with live actors, of which Not For Broadcast consists a little more than completely, had to be temporarily suspended and alternative ways were to be found. But this is how the idea came up to make a whole episode about the lockdown and fit it into the overall plot. In this segment, surrealism became the main source of humor, and the insanity of what is happening was elevated to the absolute. Although, by and large, in the rest of the game, absurdity, bordering on insanity, hit from everywhere, it was just much easier to believe in it – it was too much like our reality.

Nineteen Eighty-Four

Outside in 1984. The scene is a fictional country, clearly referring to the UK. We have to play for Alex Winston, a janitor at a television studio, who suddenly for himself sits down at the broadcast control panel and becomes the director of a news program. Both the game’s start year and the character’s last name allude boldly to George Orwell’s novel and set the stage for a better perception of subsequent events.

On the day when the protagonist of Not For Broadcast tries on a new profession, elections are held in the country and the Progress party wins, promising to overcome crime and poverty. To do this, all you need is to take money from the rich and distribute it to the needy. The plan is reliable, you will not say anything. Very quickly, “Progress” has an enemy in the face of the “Interruption” movement. Protests begin on the streets, and the leader of the rebels hiding under the mask is trying to reach out to the people, breaking into the TV broadcast. And it is up to us to decide who to put in a favorable light in this fight. We can keep Interruption messages off the air so that he has fewer supporters. Or, on the contrary, we can concentrate on the dubious “successes” of Progress and show one of their leaders as an extravagant, always cursing alcoholic. In general, all the great power of editing and television delivery is in our hands.

Not for Broadcast: Обзор

In addition to news stories and reports, the game has a lot of interviews with local sports, film, theater and music stars. Each of them is just gold, because whenever some selfish celebrity with a serious face starts to carry game, it is absolutely impossible not to smirk or even laugh.

At the director’s console, we can, firstly, switch between cameras (try to show the speaker, change plans so that the picture is not static) and, secondly, censor the broadcast. This must be done using all the same cameras (clicking them so that, for example, naked rebels do not hit the screens), and, of course, with the help of a special “beeper” – swearing is unacceptable, and political propaganda will be on the player’s conscience. If there are many flaws in the broadcast, then the audience will quickly begin to lose interest in it, the ratings of the Evening News will crawl down and, having reached the very bottom, ruin Alex’s career – this is considered the end of the game here. To prevent this from happening, you still need to monitor the radio interference in a special mini-game, rhythmically mount musical numbers (the songs here were really successful), give out the public’s reaction to the performances and turn on ads in time.

The further events develop, the more mechanics appear in the game and it becomes more difficult to make sure that there are no problems on the air. It can be seen that the developers tried to introduce new gameplay elements gradually and change the conditions so that the player does not get bored and is always in a slight tension. However, those who just want to enjoy the story have not been forgotten either: Not For Broadcast has a story mode where you don’t need to be distracted by mini-games (and in general, their difficulty can always be adjusted to suit you).

Not for Broadcast: Обзор

Between episodes in the control room, we are told about Alex’s life outside of work. He has a family in which something is always going on, and we again have to make decisions, only this time they are just written in the form of text.

Not For Broadcast is an FMV game, meaning everything except the director’s console interface and Alex’s family history is pre-recorded footage that can change depending on the player’s actions. And there is so much footage in Not For Broadcast that it even got into the Guinness Book of Records as the game with the longest total video length with live actors. Nearly 43 hours of raw footage is no joke considering the last winner only had about seven hours. Because of such volumes, Not For Broadcast weighs a lot for indie – it takes about 50 gigabytes on my hard drive.

Live actors breathed into the game a sense of the reality of what is happening: if there were 3D models in their place, the story would certainly be perceived completely differently. Both the main characters (that is, news anchors and main politicians) and episodic characters (advertisers, star guests and ordinary people who accidentally or intentionally get into the frame) play to the maximum – this is the case when it is better to see once than read a hundred times in the review. Their facial expressions and gestures add shades to the images of the characters, allow you to better understand their characters and give room for reflection, who is worth empathizing with and who is not.

Not for Broadcast: Обзор

If the first episode only introduced us to the characters and mechanics and was generally more funny than dramatic, then the next two are already much darker and tougher. Although they show us, on the contrary, the process of turning the evening news into a completely entertaining show – it would seem that the tone should have been completely different.

Brave New World

Reviewing the first episode, I lamented that the influence of Alex Winston on the minds and hearts of people is not really felt. And no wonder – it was only the beginning of the game, the real choice and its consequences begin to be felt later in the story. Depending on what you show in the Evening News and what you focus on, the attitude of viewers towards the two main political forces, Progress and Interruption, changes. Accordingly, their position in the world is changing: a self-confident government behaves accordingly in the frame, but if you cover the failures of Progress more, the footage will be completely different. This also applies to news stories, and the fate of the stars of the local showbiz – in two passages they will differ if played differently.

If, during the broadcast of a production, disrupting it with the wrong sound effects – say, not laughing at jokes and clapping when it is logical to hoot – this will also have consequences. The actors will get upset and forget their words, and the director, in a rage, will arrange a performance in the studio, addressing directly to the person at the remote control, that is, to the player.

Not for Broadcast: Обзор

They break the fourth wall in Not For Broadcast infrequently, but each time effectively.

The scale and variability of the game can also be assessed by the fact that it has as many as 14 endings, which are made up of how we acted and who we sympathized with throughout the passage – besides, our reaction to individual plot events is also of great importance. A very good approach that I just can’t help but note.

I would also like to highlight the moments that have changed since the release of the first episode. I think that they perfectly illustrate how much work the authors have done on the game in addition to adding new content. I’ll start with the little things. For a well-allocated broadcast, as before, a financial reward is due, only now it is not money that can be spent on trinkets to decorate the studio, but a separate column – the current state of the protagonist. The trinkets, however, did not disappear, but turned into rewards for trials – such a mode was also brought into the game, especially for lovers of difficulties.

Rewind appeared in the menu for viewing broadcast recordings – a very useful thing for those who want to delve into the plot as much as possible: news anchors and their guests often say things that are not intended for the audience’s ears. The only way to see these moments and not lose the rating by broadcasting such a backstage live is just to watch the footage.

Changed in Not For Broadcast and a mini-game that does not allow us to just sit back in the director’s chair and enjoy the recording of some plot. You no longer need to run away from interference with the ball, now the player’s task is to adjust the wavelength with the mouse wheel, which is much more authentic, in my opinion.

But still, the most important innovation is the appearance of Russian voice acting. With all these additional activities that the game regularly throws up, it was quite difficult to keep track of the subtitles as well (if you can easily perceive English speech by ear – my respect, of course). Now, concentrating on tasks, following the plot is no longer so burdensome. Our voices are good – it is curious that even Syenduk wormed his way among the Russian voice actors. True, the subtitles do not always correspond to the voice acting and sometimes it happens that the characters swear with their voices, but for some reason you don’t need to swear this swear word: it is not highlighted in red on the audio track. We’re better off!

In a stream of often the same type of games, original and unlike projects, often made by small teams, always stand out. Not For Broadcast is one such project. This game is the first truly great work of the British indie studio NotGames, and it came out of very high quality and worthy of attention. It is both funny and sad, touching and creepy, absurd and very similar to our reality. The player here is not just an outside observer: a lot really depends on his decisions about what to put on the air – from the fate of individuals to the political structure of the whole country. Agree, it’s nice when your choice at least affects something.

Pros: a fascinating story that surprises, amuses, and makes you think; a dozen endings and, as a result, great replay value; excellent acting and a worthy translation into Russian; varied gameplay that encourages the player to actively control everything that happens in the control room.

Cons: small flaws in the subtitles; quarrels on the air still drop the rating and deprive you of the audience; not everyone will appreciate the political bias of the game.

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