Pa­pers, Please meets dystopian Bri­tain in Not Tonight

Brexit, Please For­mat: PC | Pub­lisher: No More robots | De­vel­oper: PANICBAM | re­lease: Q3 2018 | Play­ers: 1

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“W ork hard, stay out of trou­ble, and we might let you stay in the UK.” We’re go­ing to be com­pletely hon­est with you, Not Tonight presents a some­what dis­turb­ing worst-case sce­nario of the United King­dom’s de­ci­sion to aban­don the Eu­ro­pean Union.

This ‘post-brexit thriller’ has you tak­ing on the role of a Eu­ro­pean cit­i­zen seek­ing asy­lum in the coun­try they once com­fort­ably called home. Trapped in Re­lo­ca­tion Block B–a bleak, seg­re­gated mess of high-rise flats – you are forced to make a de­ci­sion: find your­self de­ported, or take on your new des­ig­nated role of ‘Bouncer’ in ser­vice of the city. The lat­ter is prefer­able in this sce­nario, and so you are set to work man­ag­ing the en­trances to a va­ri­ety of es­tab­lish­ments and des­ti­na­tions across Lon­don.

Fans of Lu­cas Pope’s Pa­pers, Please will im­me­di­ately get to grips with the style and me­chan­ics of Not To­day. As peo­ple queue to en­ter a place of busi­ness, it is your re­spon­si­bil­ity to let them in or turn them away de­pend­ing on a va­ri­ety of cri­te­ria. This can range from the rel­a­tively easy – check­ing date of births on IDS – to more com­plex tasks like ver­i­fy­ing holo­gram au­then­tic­i­ties, ex­piry dates and na­tion­al­i­ties. As you can prob­a­bly imag­ine, you’ll en­counter el­e­ments such as racial pro­fil­ing and black­mail as the game be­gins to scale up in ten­sion and com­plex­ity in its later stages.

At the heart of all of this are the moral quan­daries that you’ll be thrown up against. The bet­ter you do in your job, the more com­fort­able and lux­u­ri­ous your lifestyle will be­come – pre­par­ing you for a bet­ter fu­ture. But at what cost? If you spot some­one do­ing some­thing that they shouldn’t be, will you throw them into the grasp of the ma­raud­ing Al­bion First po­lit­i­cal party? Or will you risk your own life to help them out of a tight spot? It’s these de­ci­sions that will com­pel you through the ex­pe­ri­ence.

Not Tonight is provoca­tive by its very na­ture. But con­tained within its web of po­lit­i­cal mes­sag­ing – it is in­cred­i­bly anti-brexit, if you haven’t guessed – is the echo of some­what heartier Bri­tish qual­i­ties, a cyn­i­cism and hu­mour that cre­ates an ex­cel­lent di­chotomy be­tween the bleak sit­u­a­tion and the fun you have when trapped within it. “What lengths will you go to sur­vive Bri­tain on the verge of col­lapse?” is a ques­tion Not Tonight asks, and it’s cer­tainly an in­ter­est­ing one.

In many ways, it’s a mi­cro­cosm of the heartache and pain Pa­pers, Please nav­i­gated so ex­cel­lently as it stuck you on the lit­eral bor­der be­tween life or death. Whether Not Tonight can achieve some­thing sim­i­lar re­mains to be seen, or for that mat­ter, whether it even wants to – we get the feel­ing that it in­stead may be per­fectly con­tent with putting the mir­ror up against a de­ci­sion the coun­try is cur­rently work­ing its way through.

as you through through Not Tonight you’ll come up against tales of hu­man tragedy, cor­rup­tion and ex­ploita­tion. Which way you choose judge these sto­ries will land you in dif­fer­ent places.

Above: Not Tonight is cer­tainly go­ing to make some head­lines, but it’s also go­ing to be worth ev­ery one of them. it’s fun, smartly writ­ten and in­cred­i­bly provoca­tive.

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