Not Tonight 2 is a narrative-driven document checking game from developer PanicBarn and publisher No More Robots. The game is a sequel to 2018s Not Tonight and was released on the 11th of February on Steam. The trailer immediately piqued my interest with its excellent pixel art mixed with oppressive dystopian themes. Can Eduardo’s friends break him out of a Miami detention centre? Find out below in my Not Tonight 2 review.
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We start the game during a protest in Seattle. Suddenly a van draws up to the protesters and bundles one of them inside. This poor unfortunate is Eduardo, who ends up all the way across the country in a Miami detention centre. Fortunately, Eduardo has three loyal friends, Malik, Kevin and Mari, who embark on three separate road trips across America to retrieve Eduardo’s documentation before meeting in Miami to prove his citizenship.
Do you have a penchant for paperwork? Are you a devotee of documentation? Comment below and let us know your favourite document checking games. Are 2D platformers more your thing? Then check out my 6Souls review here.
The USA depicted in Not Tonight 2 is a country in decline and harshly divided along political lines. Your journey will take you through pandemic exclusion zones, a renaissance faire, polluted Los Angeles, and a sinking New York. You follow each of the three friends in turn on their road trips across America.
The decisions you make along the way will affect your health and morale scores. If either reaches zero, you’ll reload a save or try the section again.
The gameplay is split into two major parts, with the story progressing through conversations with colourful characters in each location. Choosing from multiple dialogue options can help or hinder your progress with questionable decisions costing morale. Don’t skip through exchanges, or you’ll miss important story points and vital information. You’ll need money to move from place to place, so it’s lucky that the gig economy is thriving. All characters are experienced bouncers who use the BouncR app on their in-game phone to accept nightly door keeping jobs. It’s here where the main bulk of Not Tonight 2‘s gameplay lies.
Checking documents is Not Tonight 2‘s bread and butter. You’ll start by checking identity cards for basic details like date of birth and stamps, but the game quickly ratchets up the complexity with each new location throwing in new and novel items to check. The game will throw in body scanners, dress codes, secret passwords, VIP queues, that kind of thing. With only a handful of in-game hours, you’ll have to rush to meet a quota and make enough cash to proceed. There are bonuses to be had for exceeding the quota but admit enough people with invalid credentials, and you’ll have your wages docked or even be forced to close early.
Not Tonight 2 adds just enough novelty and complexity to each new location that checking documents is always challenging. Playing on the medium difficulty setting, I just about managed to squeak through most nights with my bonuses intact. If the going gets too tough, the difficulty can be adjusted mid-game.
Graphics & Audio
Not Tonight 2 mixes graphical styles in a very pleasing way. The world map is rendered in a 3D voxel style, and conversation screens feature excellent character portraits, and the document checking meat of the game features some lovely 2D pixel art. The animated backgrounds are mesmerising, and I found myself taking in all the little details as the queue of partygoers grew ever longer. The gameplay takes so much attention that it’s a shame that there isn’t more time to appreciate the effort and love that has gone into the environments.
Interfaces are clean and clear. It’s obvious how to interact with all the different gadgets introduced throughout the game. One nit is that it’s possible to move some items freely to arrange your play area, but not all. A guest list appeared behind another object on one occasion, and I could not move either.
The audio is excellent too. Characters express their dialogue by spouting amusing gibberish, and sound effects are plentiful and unintrusive. The music is pretty great and suitable for each location. Your position as a bouncer means most of the time, you’ll only hear the muffled thumps from outside the venue. Then, when you let someone in, and the door opens, you’ll hear the music fade in properly for a few brief seconds.
I managed to play through Not Tonight 2 in around eight hours, which feels like the story’s appropriate length. For completionists, there are thirty-one Steam achievements to attain, but replayability is low. Not Tonight 2 offers good value, but you’re unlikely to play through more than once.
I had a blast playing Not Tonight 2. I enjoyed the story of quirky characters stuck in a dystopian America. The road trips across the country are unsettlingly on the edge of ridiculous and totally what the World will look like in a few years. The pixel art and animation are outstanding, and I found myself staring at the screen instead of playing the game.
If you enjoyed Papers, Please or the previous game in this series, give Not Tonight 2 a whirl.
Not Tonight 2 is worthy of the Thumb Culture Gold Award.
Disclaimer: A code was received in order to write this review.