PanicBarn, the developers of Not Tonight, must be big fans of the game Papers, Please.
I can’t really blame them; I too love Papers, Please. It’s a great game that takes one simple gameplay mechanic and enhances it with bleak settings and a powerful narrative full of moral dilemmas that haunt you for months.
Not Tonight is an upcoming “anti-Brexit” adventure game that hopes to do the same.
Not Tonight warns of a possible future where Britain’s far-right government treats residents of European descent as second-class citizens. Those who weren’t immediately deported now live in slams, forced to do the jobs UK citizens don’t care for.
Unfortunately for you, you are one such former citizen.
You play as Person of European Heritage #112. You might not have a proper name, but do get to select your character’s appearance and backstory, though no matter which one you choose, you find yourself in the same sticky situation.
If you wish to remain in the country you were born in, you need to work, earn enough money to pay your rent, and maybe help with a revolution or two along the way.
The game is currently in closed beta. After playing it for a couple of hours, the comparison to Papers, Please is unavoidable. Both games are very, very similar.
In Not Tonight, instead of approving or rejecting traveling visas, you play as a bouncer letting people into parties or sending them home in tears. It might not have the prestige that comes with a government job, but it is essentially the same thing.
The UI is also very familiar. You have your workspace where you can examine the patrons’ ID cards, your nightly goals and the set of rules you need to follow.
As you might expect, these rules start off fairly simple, but as the game progresses you need to pay attention to more and more details. At first, you just make sure everyone is over 18, but you quickly find yourself looking for fake IDs and refusing (or accepting) brides.
Of course, you’re not working as a bouncer just for the opportunity to push around drunk partygoers. You’re doing it for the money; at least that’s how it starts off.
Not Tonight presents a few branching paths for you to explore. You do have your night-to-night job, but during the days you’ll meet all sort of characters, and some will have agendas you can follow or use to your advantage. During my short time with the beta, I turned small-time drug dealer at a festival, got the attention of “the resistance” and was offered a shady deal by my jerk of caseworker.
The beta only lasted about half of an in-game month so I didn’t get to see where those paths lead, but they are intriguing enough. They hint at the game’s potential replay value and possible multiple endings. That’s always a plus in my book.
So far, Not Tonight is a solid, if a bit repetitive experience. When a game is based solely on one gameplay mechanic repetition is expected. It even helps show the grinding daily routine of the thankless jobs a lot of immigrants find themselves in.
The moral decisions and money management elements do help to alleviate some of that repetitiveness. However, the narrative doesn’t feel as impactful as that of Papers, Please.
It might be because I don’t live in the UK, so I’m not as concerned with Brexit as the game’s developers are. However, I never visited the fictional communist country of Arstotzka and I was still very invested in the lives of its citizens.
The stakes simply don’t seem to be as high as they should be, but I only played through the first couple of hours so things might change drastically down the road. If you’re a fan of slightly humoristic takes of possible dystopian futures, I suggest you check this game out.
Not Tonight is set for a full release on Steam later this summer. The game is also expected to hit PS4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch.Some of our posts include links to online retail stores. We get a small cut if you buy something through one of our links. Don't worry, it doesn't cost you anything extra.