It’s hard not to have mixed feelings about Not Tonight. For starters, it’s nice to see another game so heavily inspired by Papers, Please – we need more darkly satirical bureaucracy sims. It also contains words (apparently quite funny ones, at that) written by RPS pal and contributor Richard Cobbett, another mark in its favour. It’s just hard to shake the terrible sense of all-too-real dread I get looking at its nightmarish vision of working as a bouncer in post-Brexit Britain. For those who can stomach staring into this existential abyss, it’s out today, published by No More Robots.
Putting players in the scuffed trainers of a designated ‘Person of European Heritage’, your goal in Not Tonight is to avoid getting deported by the increasingly far-right wing government that took hold of the country after Brexit went haywire. From your home in Relocation Block B, you find work via a smartphone app, and spend your nights making sure only the right kind of arsehole makes their way into the UK’s many pubs, clubs and festivals. As with Papers, Please, this requires timely assessment of their ID and credentials against ever-shifting, often nonsensical criteria.
Also as with Papers, Please, developers PanicBarn keep you on your toes with moral choices to be made. Through your choices as to who enters, who leaves, and what decisions you make in-between jobs, you can alter the political situation around you. While it’s possible to play nice and do exactly as your government and capitalist overlords wish you to behave, I can’t see myself backing down from a chance to help out any kind of resistance, assuming I can drum up the courage to try the game in the first place.
Disclaimer: RPS regular Richard Cobbett did writing work for Not Tonight. Being an extremely prolific freelancer, he gets around a lot, writing words for all manner of periodicals and game studios. He’s also infuriatingly good at keeping his behind-the-scenes projects secret from us (which explains my surprise the other day when he announced Nighthawks), so I have absolutely no insider angle on the nature of Not Tonight.