Can Brexit Be Funny in the Video Game World?
Ohai guys! It’s been a while since I last wrote one of these thingamajigs, hasn’t it? 2020’s still going great, isn’t it? At least we’ve stillgot games to be locked inside forever with!
This month, I’d like to talk to you about a game I recently finished playing on the Nintendo Switch (also available on Steam) called Not Tonight, and apologies to my Discord community for banging on about this again! It’s (I’m quoting the game’s website here) “a dark political comedy RPG set in dystopian Britain” or as I’ve been referring to it, “an anti-Brexit simulator.”
I’ll admit, I was slightly curious to see what it was a about as I’d seen a couple friends on my Switch friend list playing it earlier in the year. It recently went on-sale again on the eShop and I’ll admit, while it usually retails for about £25, I managed to grab it for… 30p. How? By using my gold points I had saved up. I felt a bit guilty about that after I’d actually started to weirdly enjoy it.
Anyway, your name is #112 (or as many of the characters will call you “Euro”, and not usually in a nice way) and to survive in this post-Brexit world, you’ve had to become a bouncer to make your living. Every decision you make in this game will matter; meaningless tasks such as getting a good score at the end of a job, to making sure you don’t die from being overworked (obviously bad) and if you stay out of trouble, you might be allowed to stay in Britain.
In my first attempt at the game, I didn’t survive the first month (January 2018) as I couldn’t make enough money to keep Jupp, the (croissant) policeman (more on this prick later) from deporting me. So, I decided to reload my autosave from a week earlier in the game to try and do better. Lo and behold, it worked! Jupp the croissant was fucking livid! No deportation for my little Euro and her poomoji hat!
The game doesn’t really have much of a story to it, other than running along the last two years of Brexit and the occasional “bants” between the characters such as yourself and Dave (King’s Head Dave!!) the doorman from the first venue you work in.
Everything ends when you reach December 31st 2019, during the shift you’re working at the fancypants, posh-people-only ball for horrible ol’ Mr Croissant. I think I got the bad ending because no matter what I did, denying, allowing the bomber in and even giving them the VIP ticket from the Resistance, it always ended badly with my Euro the following day, on trial for thinking they’d done it. During this, you’ve got to sit through all the characters you’ve helped (or ignored, if you’re an absolute monster) and you will be “scored” on a scale of how much they think you’ve been a “good” Euro or not. I got nice things said to me by Dave (King’s Head Dave!), Mylarna the neighbour (Dave’s fave LOLZ), Harrison Pace (he’s got a dead dog on a trolley, not strange at all!) and believe it or not… The croissant, the prick, the pain the arse himself — Jupp!!
After your trial, the credits play and you’re invited to the “Not Tonight victory party”, which is you working a shift at The King’s Head letting the developers (PanicBarn and No More Robots) who made the game in. EASIEST. SHIFT. EVER.
However, despite how much I enjoyed it, there were a handful of things I found a bit tedious about Not Tonight, mainly the harder shifts which include; ID checks such as dress codes (the game’s pixel art style makes this slightly difficult), checking that tickets have got a stamp on/correct day and banned jobs (e.g. writer, reporter, journalist).
Since its original release two years ago on Steam (also released as a “bundle” on the Switch as Not Tonight: Take Back Control Edition), there’s been a DLC featuring fan favourite Dave (yes… King’s Head Dave!), Not Tonight: One Love. It features the King Head’s boss going off to France (using an app called FlamR) following the main game’s ending, in the hopes of finding love as Britain burns down behind him. It’s a nice little addition, but not a patch on the main game.
It introduces new elements such as drink orders (ARGH!! I HATED THIS.) and travel cards for non-Euros (basically Brits and Americans) I tried to hook good ol’ Dave up with his fave Mylarna, but no luck as I couldn’t figure out the whole date (you’re limited to three per candidate), favourite items etc in time. I nearly ended up with Lassie, the dead dog and a robot. Sadly, at the end of the month… my version of Dave ended up alone, and he didn’t seem too heartbroken, thankfully.
A final thing I loved about the main game was that is exists within the same universe as Hypnospace Outlaw, a game I took a chance streaming on my Twitch channel recently after hearing plenty of things online about it. It’s certainly left an impression on my community afterwards! (Blame this song.)
So, in summary, can Brexit really be funny in a video game? I think so, if it’s done properly like the Not Tonight’s tongue-in-cheek humor is. I even got a giggle out of some of the news articles that would pop up on my Euro’s phone before heading out for another night’s shift of enforcing law and order by banning any scallywags with fake IDs. So, if you’re under 18, from Ireland and you’ve got a different picture on your passport?! Go away, this is not for you! I’LL SCAN AND (PERMA)BAN YOU!
If I was to rate Not Tonight, I’d give it a 7/10. I would actually like to play it again in the future by having a go at the Resistance stuff and acing all the jobs to S Rank. It definitely kept me occupied for a few lonely nights in the last fortnight when I wanted a break from my other addiction at the moment, Slay the Spire.
Have any of you lot played this? If so, I’d love to know on Twitter! I’d like to keep making these a regular thing and hopefully, I’ll speak to you all again next month about whatever I’ve been playing off-stream. 🙃