Not For Broadcast is the propaganda broadcasting experience available now for Quest 2 and PC VR. This flatscreen-to-VR port translates nicely, delivering a wonderfully entertaining job sim filled with clever adult humor. Find out more in our Not For Broadcast VR review.
It’s the 1980s and you’ve been appointed the studio director for the National Nightly News. A political party named Advance has also been voted into power and their increasingly tyrannical behavior means that things in the country soon start to take an Orwellian turn. You have the power to sway public opinion about the party one way or the other – the choices you make inside and outside the broadcasting studio will have significant ramifications.
A game about broadcasting the National Nightly News might initially sound a bit pedestrian, but Not For Broadcast is nothing of the sort. There are two main elements to the gameplay. First is the interactive elements, all about keeping the audience tuned in by operating the right controls at the right times to deliver an entertaining broadcast.
Then there’s the 43 hours of video footage that delivers a top-notch story – replete with political satire, slapstick comedy and dark humor – that is so engaging it will make you forget you’ve got a job to do. Watching the news team exchange acid-tongued barbs off-air and being privy to the deliberately over-the-top drama in the newsroom is hilariously entertaining.
Not For Broadcast eases players into the game, keeping things interesting by having you learn on the job but also starting out fairly forgiving at the same time. Laid out in front of you is a control panel and two large screens mounted to the wall – one screen shows what the public is seeing on their television sets and the other shows the live feed that lags a few seconds behind the public broadcast.
There are also four additional smaller screens with each showing a different camera angle, which you can switch between with the push of a button. Sound overwhelming? That’s the point – a big part of the challenge in Not For Broadcast is prioritizing specific jobs whilst multiple things vie for your attention.
Choices Have Consequences
Life as a studio director is fraught with challenges; switching between feeds to capture the onscreen action, quickly censoring uninhibited guests who curse at the drop of a hat, and battling unexpected interference.
Do these things well and your audience will grow but mess it up and your employer will soon be on your case about the dwindling viewing numbers. A good performance will also bring a higher rating and more money which can be used to buy equipment to make your broadcasting days easier.
Another important aspect of the game is carefully choosing which ads to run and what images to broadcast. These are choices that influence public attitude and can alter the trajectory of the game. For example, choosing not to run Advance party ads and using images that show them in a less than favorable light will undermine their authoritative agenda and also draw their ire, which can have serious consequences for you both in the workplace and at home.
Sessions in the broadcasting studio are broken up by text-based story sequences that follow the life of you and your family. The text-driven storyline has a branching narrative with value-laden choices to be made that influence the direction of events in the text story and the broadcast room. For example, what’s more important to you – time with the family or time spent climbing the corporate ladder? Will you be generous with your limited cash or a frugal miser?
Comfort & Audience
Not For Broadcast can be played either seated or standing. The lack of artificial motion makes it a good choice for anyone prone to VR sickness. There are also accessibility options that let you change some of the in-game colors to accommodate players with color blindness.
While Not For Broadcast is meant to be taken lightly, there are some dark themes, foul language, and sexual content that may be uncomfortable for some.
There’s a certain megalomaniacal joy to having the power to shape a nation at your very fingertips. However, some minor issues with the VR controls detract from what is otherwise a fun interactive experience flipping switches and adjusting dials.
For example, your virtual hand automatically points with the index finger when nearing a button, which would have felt more natural to control manually myself with controller triggers or capacitive sensors. Similarly, the little joystick on the control panel, used to adjust wavelength frequency and reduce broadcast interference, feels a little off when moving the stick. It makes it more difficult to control than it should be.
Plenty Of Content
The game maintains a nice pace, chunking broadcasts into sections that last around 20 minutes each and mixing it up with the non-broadcast text storyline sequences. Just when you’ve started to get tired of doing one thing, the game will often throw in something new to keep it engaging.
Five different difficulty settings and a custom mode that allows players to adjust the difficulty of specific aspects of the game provides a lot of control over the level of challenge. The easiest setting is best for players who just want to enjoy the story, while the most difficult setting is a brutally unforgiving slog aimed at more seasoned players.
The game takes about 8 hours to complete one full playthrough, with potential for replayability given the choices you make can result in one of fourteen different endings. There’s also a challenge mode that lets you replay some sections for rewards and an archive where you can relax and view all of the footage without any broadcasting responsibilities.
Not For Broadcast VR Review – Final Verdict
Not For Broadcast successfully balances thought-provoking writing with a mix of clever political satire, light-hearted slapstick comedy and dark humor for a hilariously captivating story. Making morally difficult choices while dealing with the stress of managing a live broadcast gives players plenty to engage with beyond the entertaining narrative.
With the exception of some minor interactivity issues, operating a TV broadcasting station translates beautifully into VR, with Not For Broadcast offering up one of the most unique and entertaining VR games I’ve played this year.
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