Not For Broadcast returns triumphantly with their recent release of Episode 2 and it is one of the most impactful video game experiences I have ever had in recent memory. They did add in new game play mechanics but they remain trivial in comparison to the excellent writing, dialogue, and incredible acting. It’s very rare for me but after completing Episode 2, I had to sit there in silence just to be able to process everything that had happened.
The writing is just as intelligent and witty as before, with multiple layers of depth to some lines. A silly jab can mask a much more somber and sober look at society. The game also features some musical numbers and they were honestly well done, a fine mix of comedy, biting satire, and actual musical talent. The new mechanics do change the game play up but they were always just mediocre and serviceable to me compared to the narrative taking place on the screens.
This is where Episode 2 shines. The game starts off with the silly nonsense of Episode 1 and it takes a considerably darker turn near the second broadcast. It came from nowhere but it was so well executed that I was enthralled by what was happening on the screen. Over the course of the game I had developed a vested interest in these goofy characters that I’ve been observing from the control room.
The game has multiple outcomes depending on the choices you make and the series of unfortunate events that lead to the outcome I observed left me with a sense of real loss. Comedy is only a step away from becoming a tragedy and in this case it took a giant leap into a pit of despair. Not only did the game make me feel a connection to the characters, it accurately captured the collective feeling of anger, hopelessness, insecurity, and fear that people around the world have been feeling for some time now. This game transcended from being just a game to managing to capture and articulate the deep recesses of the current human condition in a way that I could feel a connection to. This game is art, a very silly, goofy, sometimes buggy, but tragically beautiful piece of art.