“Have A Pleasant Night” | Not For Broadcast, and the game where everyone is wrong (Review)
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Major spoilers ahead! You’ve been warned!
I don’t think I’ve ever met a person whose dream job was “news broadcast manager.” I mean, does that sound like a nice job to have to you? You’ve gotta keep the audience happy, the pay is low, and there’s so many buttons in front of you that every manager probably goes into sensory overload on their first day.
Okay, but what if you’re a news broadcast manager where all your choices affect the world? Well, color me intrigued, where do I sign up?
This is the plot of NotGames’ politically-driven yet comedic game known as Not For Broadcast, a game where all the choices you make are wrong, all the people with power are wrong, and those who oppose them are wrong. But is that necessarily a bad thing? More importantly, how close to real life does it get?
Part 1. Not For Broadcast
Chapter 1. Gameplay
I mean, hey, it’s a game. Where else did you expect me to start?
Let’s start things off truthfully — I played on Broadcaster difficulty, which is basically the “Normal” difficulty. There’s three other difficulties; Story, Intern, and Showrunner. Story is exactly what it sounds like, it’s a super easy baby difficulty that’s meant to just get you through the story. Intern is just an easier Broadcaster. And, apparently, Showrunner is an absolute hellish sensory overload that will give you a heart attack. Sounds fun! I’m never touching it.
There’s also a Custom difficulty option, neat idea, but I’m not sure I’d need it. Challenges basically have what I need there; more on that later.
There’s two sections of Not For Broadcast, split between controlling the news and making text-based choices like a Telltale game. I like to call these sections the Broadcast Section and the Minecraft Story Mode Section, respectively. But we’ll shorten that last one to the Telltale Section.
Let’s get my least favorite out of the way — the Telltale Sections are nothing to write home about. They’re basically lore dumps, and they only exist to control how you spend your money. Making choices also affects how your family sees you and sometimes how your boss sees you. Most of the choices you’ll have to make — or at least, the choices I had to make in my playthrough, don’t matter that much.
I will say that the Telltale Sections are forgiving. I completely neglected my wife and son the first half of the game to focus on my daughter, and then after a coma, I got the chance to rekindle the bond with everyone. Would the story have changed if I didn’t do that? Maybe. It’s possible I could’ve ended up in divorce, which would lead to different Telltale Sections. How would that affect the overall story? Not much, I’d imagine…
The Broadcast Sections are completely disconnected from the Telltale Sections, sort of. What you do in Broadcast will affect what happens in Telltale, but not vice-versa for like, 99% of the time. There’s only one choice I can think of that might’ve affected the Broadcast Sections, and that’s the survey form you’re forced to take at some point. But beyond that, it’s a one-way mirror.
The Broadcast Sections, on the other hand, are the real meat and potatoes of this game. They’re what you come to the game for. I’d argue these are the most memorable parts of the game. They’re lore dumps in their own way, but they force you to keep your hands moving at all times. From censoring swear words to keeping the audience happy, letting your guard down for one second will seriously cost you.
Broadcast Sections are split into three “Segments” — which are basically just news sections between ad breaks. And yes, you do genuinely get breaks during the ad breaks. The Heatwave and The Lockdown are both chapters that are an exception to this, but as long as you’ve got your ears open, you won’t have an issue with either of those during ad breaks. Mr. Boseman (your boss) or Disrupt (terrorist organization going against Advance) may talk to you during ad breaks, but that’s about it. When you get a fancy new panel, these ad breaks are used to teach you how to use them. Neat!
During a news segment, though, you have no breaks and no time to react. It starts off simple enough, having to just censor swear words sometimes, fix interference, and switch cameras to keep the audience entertained. But as you move forward, more complicated mechanics will come on that may or may not affect the story. Censor anti-government propaganda, select appropriate sound effects in a limited time, and choose whether or not to broadcast Disrupt’s… disruptions.
You also select what ads get played for each ad break. Pick wisely! They’ll affect certain things such as how Advance sees you, the stock of the station’s advertisers, and anything else you can think of. You can play these in any order you’d like, but important tapes are recommended to be played at the second break.
Do I like the gameplay? Yeah! I love the Broadcast Sections so much. I’ve had so much fun with them and making sure the audience was entertained was actually pretty fun. Even the stressful segments like interference during group segments and censoring during music segments was fun to complete. You can also retry any segment before it ends, no punishment! Okay, so what about the story?
Chapter 2. Story
AKA “piss off Twitter simulator”
Politics are a heated discussion no matter what corner of the internet you’re on. I think I’ve met more people who are vehemently against centrism than they are against actual nazis. And, oh boy, would those people froth at the mouth seeing this game’s story. There’s a reason I titled this review “the game where nobody is right.” I’ll get more into that later, but let’s give a rundown of the story.
You are Alex Lastname (I don’t remember if you even have a last name, honestly…) and you work as a janitor for the National Nightly News, which is the most popular televised news channel in the entire nation. One day, the broadcast manager is running late so you’re left in charge of taking over for him for the first day. At the end of the day, you find out this guy is quitting for good. Oh well! Guess this is your new job now.
The story is mainly about Advance, the new government that has taken control. I’ll get more into how I perceive them later, but what you do need to know is their basics; they want equal rights for all and have created the Wealth & Assets Redistribution Act to force all the wealthy people to distribute their wealth to the less fortunate. Well, that’s nice! Surely this won’t be detrimental. (This, kids, is what we call “foreshadowing.”)
This affects someone from your family… your brother-in-law. He’s a rich man, and he’s being affected by this act. He asks for your passport so he can get the heck outta there before the act goes into place. You can choose whether or not to give it to him, but I said “that sucks, man, good luck.” He and I were not very friendly after this exchange. This also makes your wife angry at you, just a small note.
There’s some smaller stuff that happens in the Telltale Section such as you going on vacation and whatnot, but it’s just filler so I won’t be going over it.
The story continues on and a terrorist organization known as Disrupt pops their little head up. They hate the Wealth & Assets Act and think, frankly, it’s bullshit! You can choose whether or not to put them in a good light, which I did not do at first, and that affects how Disrupt sees you.
Time marches on, and Advance is starting to make some… interesting choices… everyone in the “territories” (think of the districts from The Hunger Games) are all being fed thanks to a program, but it’s all fairly small rations. They’re also creating things such as “The Transition Center” which is a… *whisper* gas chamber. Anyone who doesn’t follow Advance is sent there! It’s shown as this scary place you don’t wanna go to. At some point, though, Advance also turns it into a voluntary euthanasion center. It’s shown as this beautiful place that’s made to help those move into the afterlife without having to burden their families anymore! (This is a paraphrase of what the game says, but the sentiment remains the same.) Advance does even more terrible stuff, but there’s too much to list here.
Alright, so, maybe Advance isn’t that great. Whoops! What about Disrupt? How are they doing?
So, no, nobody is in the right here. But when have you ever seen a game where taking the middle path is the correct answer? You have to support someone from here (well, you don’t have to, but I chose to.), and I chose to support Disrupt from here.
And then we get to the finale. This likely changes drastically depending on how you play, so I’m gonna leave it to you to find out what happens here yourself. Leave that air of mystery.
Alright, hm, hm, what are we missing? Ah, yes, there’s 14 different endings. How “different” these are from each other, I haven’t got a clue. My first playthrough of this game was 9 hours long. Considering this is a game where you can’t exactly “explore” or “go off the beaten path,” it’s safe to assume this is a constant playtime. So, no, I haven’t gone into another 9-hour session to find more endings. Whatever!
Chapter 3. Extras and Post-Game Content
There’s more? Oh, oh! I see, that’s it.
Alright, so this is a nice little distraction and addition. You can look back at your broadcasts to see how they looked to the audience, swear words censored and all. Cool! It is nice to see your hard work come in a form where you can actually view it. You can also view the “rushes”, which is all the four screens you’ve seen in previous screenshots. Typically, 1–3 screens of the rushes will be muted to not interfere with what’s currently on the broadcast.
Viewing rushes will let you listen in on all the juicy gossip you couldn’t hear in the news room. I wasn’t particularly interested in these, but I suppose someone interested in lore could enjoy it. It’s a nice little thing to show off your progress, I can’t be mad.
You can also view all the adverts in the game, including the ones you didn’t play. And also Disrupt disruptions, though I don’t know if ones you didn’t play count here? I played almost every Disrupt disruption, so I wouldn’t know.
In addition to all of this, there’s “challenges”! These are special broadcasts with special modifiers such as having to fight off haunted children’s toys or having your vision switcher constantly swap buttons. You also get rewards for completing challenges, but I’m not sure they do anything. I haven’t done a challenge yet, because again, it didn’t particularly interest me. But hey, completionists will have a blast.
And… that’s it. There’s also a telethon which is a special chapter mainly made to show off your work relationship with your boss. I guess it’s nice to show off character development, no complaints here.
Alright, we’ve been dreading it, let’s get it over with.
Part 2. The Game Where Nobody Is Right
Chapter 1. Advance
I’ve been living in a paradise, it’s awfully nice, if you don’t think twice…
- Jason Orbaum, “Living In Paradise”, Not For Broadcast OST
!! WARNING, THIS IS THE POLITICS LINE! IF YOU DON’T LIKE POLITICS, SKIP TO PART 3! THIS IS THE POLITICS LINE !!
Before this starts, let me say that I will not be giving my own political opinions here. I’m remaining as neutral as possible when it comes to talking about these groups, and whatever I say here is just a political analysis and doesn’t necessarily reflect my own political views. Got that out of the way? Good, glad we’re on the same page. Anyway!
Alright, so, what you’ve heard from me about Advance and whatnot makes at least one thing clear; Advance is a left-aligned government. Shhh, do you hear that? That’s the sound of Twitter coming for my throat. Yes, God forbid, but the leftist government here isn’t a good government. If you wanna argue they’re actually saints, whatever, go do it to the wall, because I don’t care.
Anyway, how left are they? Well, I’d argue far left. Much of Advance’s promises and policies mirror that of previous communist and socialist countries. Redistributing wealth, equal rights for all, making sure everyone is fed (even in just small portions), and much more. I’d highly recommend a playthrough if you’re interested. There is a nightmare segment that’s like “ooh the government was actually evil this entire time ooh!” but not only was it a nightmare, it was also made during COVID lockdown and isn’t considered canon, so I’m not bringing it up here again.
While what Advance is promising is enticing, a lot of what Advance does later down the line proves that they’re not on the right side of history in this story. I’m not gonna argue these policies, I’m just here to give my own political analysis. But I think there’s something we can all agree is bad; and that’s censorship and unnecessary civilian casualties. That’s just a couple of things that Advance does in this story.
At some point, you’re told to censor anti-government propaganda. These sections appear in blue on your censor bar, and not censoring these parts could put you in hot water with Advance. As I’ve talked about before, that would likely land you in a Transition Center…
There’s also a section of the game where Advance enforces sanctions on outside countries. Maybe not that bad, perhaps the nation truly needs it, the issue comes when the countries decide “we’re not gonna do that, actually.” If you’ve already played this game, then you know what I’m talking about. At some point, Advance decides they’ve had enough and drops nuclear bombs on four foreign cities, the after effects of which you can feel in your broadcast room, as it shakes the entire room and shuts off your equipment.
If you made the same choices I did, then your own daughter was off on vacation in one of those cities that got a nuke dropped on them. You’ll visit her grave later on, but it doesn’t really matter, you didn’t have a body to bury.
In addition to all of this, Advance is creating a dystopian “utopia” where every citizen is happy to be there. If you’re ever shown to not be happy, you’ll be… “educated.” If you want a comparison, think of the government from that one game, We Happy Few.
And then of course, there’s the Transition Centers. If you get sent here, you’re not coming out. Ever. It’s only implied that those who get sent to the centers go there to die at the beginning, but suspicions get confirmed when it gets turned into a euthanasia center for the elderly who have reached the end of their rope and are ready to move on. The ending I got even moreso confirms what they’re used for:
So… exciting policies, and inhumane tactics. That’s Advance summed up in a sentence there. Right, well, you’re free to make your own opinions on Advance, but I’d argue the bad outweighs the good here, by a longshot. Anyway, is Disrupt any better? I mean, they’re the only opposing force, right?
Well, for one, no. Every opposing force just gets terminated before they have a chance to rise. Disrupt was lucky, I guess. And to answer your question, it depends. Did you agree with what Advance did? Do you think what they did was justified? If you answered “No” to both of those questions, you won’t like Disrupt, either.
Chapter 2. Disrupt
This is the story of you, and how you’re stupid and asleep.
- Alan James, Not For Broadcast
A while after you meet Disrupt and you learn what Advance has been doing, Disrupt kinda seems like the better option. There’s a few events leading up to this that put Disrupt in a “better” light, but it’s all tragedies. In addition to your daughter dying due to an Advance nuke, there’s also a man willing to shoot himself on live broadcast in the name of Disrupt.
So where does Disrupt stand on the political spectrum? It’s hard to pinpoint where exactly, honestly. Alan James’ political stance is different from his leaders’, who we don’t meet until the finale. So we’ll talk about Alan James’ first.
Alan James is clearly a right-leaning spokesperson. Not far enough for me to say “far right”, so we’ll just say “right” for now. You could argue he’s center-right, but it doesn’t matter much.
Pinpointing Alan’s stance exactly is harder than it may seem, because you’re told conflicting stories from different stories. It’s clear that he doesn’t like the fact he has to give up his wealth, and that not everyone should be treated equally, so most of what Advance was is thrown out the window. But Advance also creates smear campaigns against Disrupt, and one of their points is that “Disrupt wants women to decide what to do with their bodies.” This is referencing the fact that the Advance world is sterile, but this general sentiment is a very leftist sentiment. (I will not be getting into current events at this time, I happened to finish this game at a very unfortunate time.)
So what is it? Who knows. But like I said, it doesn’t matter. What matters is Disrupt’s actions. And, well…
In case you’re wondering, Alan James had barged in and killed 3 civilians before I took this screenshot. And that’s just this scene alone. Previous actions include storming an event and killing everyone in sight, bombing buildings, and holding someone hostage to speak on their behalf and slander Advance. Alright, well, that last one is never confirmed, but it’s heavily implied. The woman is talking in a shaky tone and constantly looks at someone off the camera.
There might be even more Disrupt has done, but it’s not like you’d know. The game will do big timeskips, sometimes skipping multiple years. It’s hard to measure exactly what either of these groups have done, so we just have to go off what we’re shown.
But at the end of the day, Alan James chose to take these actions. He truly believes that he’s in the right and that these actions are justified. His thought process was that the only way through was violence, and he didn’t care how many innocent lives he had to take. Make of that what you will.
The Disrupt leaders are, however, a much easier case. They’re very clearly a far right group, you could even say they’re alt-right. They even name drop Alan and say that “the face of the future looks nothing like Mr. James.” At a table full of white guys talking about right-wing politics, I think we all know what they mean here.
So at the end of the day, Disrupt is a very right-wing group. How right-wing they are doesn’t get revealed until the end, but once you get there, it’s clear. Disrupt wanted to go against Advance and made their own promises to the public, but they have their own skeletons in their closet.
Chapter 3. Nobody Is Right, Including You
I’m gonna be honest, I couldn’t think of a quote to use here. Your character never talks.
- Autumn Rivers, Real Life
So what’re you supposed to do when both sides are wrong? You can’t choose neither. You’re always forced to pick one or the other. If you want, you can go down the center aisle. There is an ending where your choices are “perfectly balanced.” but I can’t guarantee it’s even remotely considered a “good ending.”
So in a world where everyone is wrong, what do you do? What are you supposed to do? What can you do? The truth is, it doesn’t matter. No matter what you do, you’re just a puppet on a string catering to the whim of some group that doesn’t give a shit about you. Sound depressing? Good, because that’s what the game is going for. The loading screen even shows you being portrayed as a puppet:
It’s not meant to be a comforting story, it’s not meant to give you closure, it’s meant to be realistic. The story depicts a dystopia that slowly worsens over time. Everything’s coming under control of the government, and you just gotta sit back and watch as it all happens.
In a situation like this, of course the news would come under control of this dystopian government. Like I said, you gotta censor anti-government discussion and please your suited overlords. You can choose to go against them, just don’t do it too much, if they hate you, well… your career will get cut short, let’s say.
So if you’re making choices to support either side when both sides are wrong, what does that make your choices? Are all of your choices wrong? Is there a right way to go about any of this? That answer is completely up to you to answer.
Part 3. Conclusion
!! NO MORE POLITICS! THE POLITICS LINE ENDS HERE! NO MORE POLITICS !!
All-in-all, Not For Broadcast is a once-in-a-blue-moon experience. While most games would be scared to show any sort of politics, Not For Broadcast makes politics its main focus. In a game where nobody is right, the developers created a woefully wonderful experience.
Despite its grim theme, this game still shines through and shows silver lining from time to time with some classic humor. Jokes are still abundant during Broadcast Sections, even after devastating events. But sometimes, it will also decide to leave you in silence and dreary. After completing Day 296, the broadcast ended and I was brought to the results screen. And with it, I was left in absolutely speechless shock for a good half hour. I couldn’t even continue forth for that time because I was still trying to process what I had just saw.
The game has controller support, I’m told, but I chose to play with keyboard and mouse. While it might be easier with a gamepad, I much prefer the keyboard and mouse approach, because it actually gives me more immersion. It’s a bit stressful, but the stress keeps it exciting.
Everything in this game might be not for broadcast, but Not For Broadcast is a game worth talking about. This is Autumn Rivers, signing off.
10/10 — Not For Broadcast is worth broadcasting.
If you can, somehow, and I envy you if you can… have a peaceful night.
- Jeremy Donaldson, Not For Broadcast