Not for Broadcast is a full motion video game from British game developer, NotGames, and published by tinybuild. It was originally released on Steam in January 2022 after an early access period.
News Flash, another poor VR Port.
I had genuinely held off on playing not for broadcast for quite a while. The game is absolutely up my alley being a fan of both British comedy and FMV story games. Originally I wanted to play the flatscreen version, and then a VR version was announced for the meta quest 2. Being a platinum trophy hunter, I held off until the PSVR2 version of the game. Unfortunately, the wait was not worth it. Read on more to find out exactly why I came away from Not for Broadcast VR disappointed.
Not for Broadcast is one of the best uses of FMV I have seen in a gameplay formula to date. People who came away from previous FMV games dissatisfied with the lack of interaction and gameplay will not be let down here.
You play as Alex Winston, a fill-in for an editor who one day decides to up and leave, leaving the job to you.
You’ll start with some relatively simple tasks, switching cameras to the speaker, reaction shots, running ads, etc. As the days go by you are introduced to more things to keep track of like censoring swearing and choosing what to show to the public on the topic of celebrities, politics, and other news topics. Occasionally you’ll be thrown with some fun little tasks like editing in time with the music or making sure the frequency is just right.
After a broadcast, you can then view what you aired as well as what you may have missed in the personal affairs of the presenters and guests on the show. This feature was brilliant. After every day I would always make sure to watch everything I could to get a more complete understanding of the people, their opinions, and their lives. There are subtle reactions and funny banter hidden here that you would be missing out on by not viewing.
You can also view the advertisements here. Not many times have I ever wanted to watch an advert, but the adverts in Not for Broadcast provided consistent laughs and were most certainly the developer’s chance to be quite silly.
It’s the 1980s, you are Alex Winston, after an unexpected landslide win from the political party “Advance,” you are appointed as the new TV broadcast editor. As the days go by Advance’s policies become increasingly totalitarian and more and more factions come into play. You as the player can decide who or what you agree with and want to show the public. This not only affects the lives of the people and news broadcasters but also of you and your family’s lives.
The game does a decent job of being quite centralized on most topics, allowing the player to choose who and what they agree with more often than not. Some stereotypes and jokes can sometimes be a little on the nose, but thankfully most of the humor in the game lands.
After broadcasts, you are thrown into a text-based decision-making section where you are tasked to make decisions that can impact you, your partner, and your children. These sections, while giving me more insight into the current political situation, didn’t connect with me more often than not. This was mainly due to the fact you can’t put faces to the names and connect with them. In any good book, characters are described, not always visually, sometimes you have to read into characters’ personalities to gather a connection and image of the person they are. In Not for Broadcast, you’re only really given a name and that person’s relation. Still, the decisions themselves were interesting enough.
The VR Port
When the VR port for Not For Broadcast was announced, I was overjoyed. This to me seemed like a perfect game to be played in VR, and I had full expectations of the VR version being a much more immersive version of the game compared to flatscreen. Unfortunately, these hopes were shut down after experiencing my first broadcast.
Difficult For All The Wrong Reasons
The first issue I found was how fiddly everything was. Occasionally I would try to cut to one screen and slightly brush past another button, the game then registering that as a push since it assumes you want to push a certain button even when your finger is a good distance away.
This was felt especially in the viewing past broadcasts/ads mode. Muting, rewinding, pausing, and fast-forwarding all became pains due to the fact upon pressing a button I had to immediately jolt my finger away to avoid pressing it more times than I wanted to.
Restart After Restart
It’s not just an issue outside of the broadcast itself either, one minigame prompts you to carefully adjust a knob to match the wavelengths on a screen, more often than not this ended up failing for me too, when I grabbed onto it and began to match it to the wavelengths, my in-game hand would all of a sudden not do what I was doing and turn it all the way up, resulting in a game over and sitting through 10 minutes of the same thing.
This felt extremely unfair since I was comfortable in my ability to do the minigame, but the results were extremely inconsistent.
No Slacking On The Job
I had also originally imagined, like the player character, I could play not for broadcast sitting down near my desk. This is not the case. For some reason, power, telephone, and plugs are all located far behind the player. Meaning there has to be a considerable amount of space behind you to reach them. This could have been easily solved by moving objects closer or just adding a right stick-to-turn option. You’ll have to either stand up and move to an open area, or use the alternate control method of grabbing items, which can impact how immersive the game is.
Graphics & Audio
Not for broadcast VR doesn’t try to do much with its visuals either, you’re contained in a small office environment so there isn’t much to look at other than the screens, which themselves seem to play videos in quite a low-quality, which is fitting of the times due to the game being set in the mid-80s. Something to note is I compared both versions of the in-game screens and found that the flatscreen version seemed to run a higher resolution on the screens.
The same goes for the audio, it is up to the standard of the times. The combination of the audio and In-game screens can add to the immersion.
Not for Broadcast is a story game, so you won’t be getting infinite replayability. But you will be getting a decent amount of it if you can withstand watching the same sections over and over. Slight changes to dialogue and 14 different endings will keep the biggest fans coming back to see everything there is to see. But for most people, it’ll be a playthrough and then watch the others online. A typical playthrough will take you around 6-8 hours which can vary if, like me, you always watched every part of every day. Unlike the base game, there is no DLC to be purchased here either.
Please do not let this negative review make you write off Not for Broadcast. The game is a brilliant use of FMV with some excellent writing and comedy to support it. The VR port, however, is a poor attempt to translate a formula that originally seemed built for VR. The base game is still here and for VR fanatics who must play every game in VR, can put up with fiddly controls and have a large play space, it might be worth checking not for broadcast out on PSVR2. But for everyone else, the flatscreen version will be the go-to.
Because of this, I am awarding Not for Broadcast VR a Thumb Culture Silver Award.
Disclaimer: A code was received in order to write this review.