Not Tonight – The Brexit Game25th October 2019
So. I finally played “The Brexit Game” – or, by its proper name, Not Tonight. I heard a lot about this game, and from what I heard, I was expecting something completely different to what I experienced. I don’t want to get into it too much, but there’s a substantial political elephant in the room. So we need to get that out of the way first.
Yes, the backdrop for this game is post-Brexit Britain. However, this game is a re-invention of Papers, Please. The mechanics of Papers, Please rely on a totalitarian regime in a dystopian landscape – that’s all this is. Brexit was a convenient way to create a dystopian future in a real location, and, from what I understand, Not Tonight was originally set in a fictional country, much like Papers, Please. Then Brexit came along, and PanicBarn saw their opportunity to change it to a
While I am sure the controversial backdrop of this game was to PanicBarn’s benefit, it’s not actually that much of a political game. The contention stems more from the fact that it is a very current issue, it is a highly divisive issue, and it has everyone on all sides feeling tense. Once you get past that novelty of being amidst a contemporary problem, you’re back to playing a more colourful Papers, Please, without the epic opening theme tune.
Politics and lack of epic opening theme tune aside, I really enjoyed Not Tonight. And to add controversy – I daresay I liked it more than Papers, Please. That has absolutely nothing to do with me being utterly terrible at Papers, Please. Okay. It has all to do with being terrible at the precursor. The first thing I appreciated about Not Tonight was that it was less punishing – it actually gives you time to get used to each new mechanic before throwing another at you.
Your job is being a bouncer at a variety of pubs, clubs and events. You check IDs and click people in, the more you get in, the more you get paid, the more you mess up, the more fines you accrue. It starts off
Between shifts, you return home, check your upgrades, move story elements along, and pay your bills. Other than actually seeing your humble abode, and all the colour, you won’t find much that surprises you if you’ve played Papers, Please. I don’t want that to come across as a negative: I love that it’s a spiritual successor. If you enjoy a particular playstyle or mechanic, you want more of it. And if you enjoyed Papers, Please, you didn’t have much else like it, until Not Tonight.
Stylewise, this is right up my street. I love the pixelated style, and there’s something almost cyberpunk about it – the grimy hovel you call home, the neon of the clubs. Brexit game or no Brexit game, Not Tonight is just fun. I would, of course, recommend trying Papers, Please if you haven’t already. And if you find yourself stressed by the mechanics, why not unwind with the far more relaxing Hidden Folks.