‘Not Tonight’ Review: A Very British Brexit Simulator That Feels Too Real
Brexit is upon us. It's actually happened, and now we face an uncertain future that nobody really seems to agree on. So, why not play a video game about it? Not Tonight: Take Back Control Edition is the story of a British person living in a post-Brexit United Kingdom, where a far-right government is ruling through lies and manipulation. You probably think that sounds pretty absurd, right? I mean, nothing like that would ever happen in reality, right? Right?
You get a choice of characters but they're all equally British, and they're all equally mistreated by the Albion First party, the current leaders of Albion (which is the name Britain has in Not Tonight). The character I chose was born in Bath to Spanish parents, and was raised to be compassionate to others. Now, they're working as a bouncer at various clubs, bars and events, and constantly having to deal with xenophobic attitudes from employers and immigration officers alike. Again, doesn't this all sound so far-fetched?
Not Tonight's gameplay revolves around your job on the doors, letting in clientele who pass the criteria set down by the venue's owner. You'll need to scrutinise IDs, checking that patrons are old enough, and that they match the picture on the card. You'll also need to keep an eye out for forged documents which have no official stamp, and where the flag on the card is in black and white instead of in colour. It's all very methodical, and errors don't go unpunished so you'll want to take your time. Sadly, your bosses ask that you let in a certain number of customers during your shift, so you have to manage your time well or risk letting down your overheads.
It doesn't stop here, either. Some venues require tickets, which is all fine; but then others have stricter rules, like not allowing French people in. As is always the case with things like this, there's a societal reason for persecuting people from other nationalities, but it's still up to you whether you want to comply with your employer's demands.
Here we have the true story meaning behind Not Tonight's trivial, praetorian gameplay. As the story unfolds, you'll be faced with choices to either play nice with Albion First's fascist rule or join the Resistance. Each side has their pros and cons, so it's never easy going in Not Tonight. Join the Resistance and run the risk of jeopardising your livelihood and right to live in the country of your birth, or tow the party line and turn on innocent people out of fear. It's your call, and there's a lot of fun to be had in this game whichever side you pick,
The way you lean also affects your character's income too. Ultimately, you need to earn X amount of money by fixed dates in the game or you risk deportation. In addition, you also have bills to pay, and then there's items to buy to spruce up your home and your appearance. Some employers in the game stress the importance of dressing the part, so they appreciate it when you splash out on a high-vis jacket and a headset to match.
The issue with Not Tonight's gameplay is just how monotonous it is. I get that this is indicative of the actual job of being a bouncer, but even with all the rules to remember and abide by, it can get pretty dull after a while. Luckily, the story only gets more enjoyable as it goes on, assuming you make it that far with all the punters you have to wade through.
Another issue is the pixel art style. I'm not saying it doesn't look cool, but it does make it hard to identify whether somebody matches the picture on their ID at times. It's usually clear enough but when it costs you, it's hard to forgive. Then there's the time where you make a mistake and you can't for the life of you figure out what went wrong, but these moments are few and far between.
Not Tonight also offers up a hefty serving of humour, blending cynical and silly to get some hearty laughs out of you. Often you'll be chuckling at the in-game gammon for their sheer incompetence, but their disregard for your humanity is more depressing thanks to its striking realism. Credit to developers PanicBarn for their accuracy here.
Not Tonight: Take Back Control Edition is a good time, all things considered. Checking IDs is satisfying enough to make you feel good for doing it well, but it can grow stale at times. There's plenty of comedy in there too, especially if you're a fan of gallows humour, but this game's ability to capture the feeling of dystopian totalitarianism is where it really shines.
Game code provided to us on Nintendo Switch by No More Robots. Not Tonight is also available on PC. Read a guide to GAMINGbible's review scores here.
Featured Image Credit: No More Robots / PanicBarn