So far the last few games that I’ve been playing have been dystopian worlds where survival becomes difficult. Not wanting to change that, I came across Not Tonight. Similar to Papers please, you play the role Person of European Heritage #112, days away from being exported from your country and back to the country of your parent’s birth. How can you survive in a very tongue in cheek alternate reality where your birth means nothing and where your parents came from means everything? Developed by PanicBarn and published by No More Robots, can you survive in a xenophobic world where last time you checked you belonged to the country trying to kick you out?
The game takes place in an alternate history where an incredibly xenophobic party takes control of the UK and begins to expel anyone who doesn’t have two generations of history in England. Unfortunately for you, though you were born here that doesn’t grant you citizenship. To make ends meet and to pay the ludicrous renewal fee on your visa you are assigned the role of a freelance bar bouncer.
Check IDs, tickets and names on guest lists are just a few of the challenges that await the player, as well as a minimum attendance quota into the bar. Unlike in Paper’s please where just having someone walk into the country counted towards your pay, in Not Tonight if you make a mistake the count is removed and you’re potentially fined for the error or fired if you make too many. Starting simple and growing in complexity, the game demands the utmost in attention of the player to keep their job and remain a temporary citizen.
There is also a second option for the player to take money that brings up the ethical question that everyone has, how far do you go to ensure your lifestyle? At first you’re presented with people bribing you to let them into the club. Of course, I turned these down as I’m a perfectionist and your performance is directly tied to how fast you upgrade and get better equipment to increase your job efficiency.
But it wasn’t until the game introduced drugs into the equation that things stopped being so black and white for me. When the game presented it to me, it was just a one time thing the character told me, people coming in for a festival. I scoffed, I was here to make an honest living not peddling and pushing onto people, regardless of the fact the drugs were comical in nature and had no relationship with real life drugs as far as I knew. Until, I accidentally dropped it onto a patron when I was trying to give their ID back. Suddenly 40 pounds showed up in my hand instantly. I did a strangely real life thing and moved the money so it couldn’t be easily seen and continued with my job, fearing what would happen afterwards. And then it happened, absolutely nothing. Aside from a drop in my social score there was no negative. And the score impact would recover in a day. So I went back to that same job, with even more drugs. One job later, I had an extra 200 pounds and the moral feelings I had, instantly evaporated. When it came time for “heavier drugs” to appear in the game, I didn’t bat an eye as I bought a decent stock and made a massive killing at the next event.
It actually wasn’t until I started to write this when I realized how easily I had let go of my moral ethics. Granted, I’ve played games like this before where you can kill or spare an opponent for a move resource or something of that nature. But that was always off from the start, as if I had no choice but one or the other and I just looked up which would let me win the game. This time around, by the time I started, I had more than enough money to pay for everything with no worries or regrets. But the thrill of making so much money, so easily, with no direct lose to me…still has me chilled how easily I just let myself fall into it. In a way, I can definitely understand now how someone in a much harder situation than myself could easily see this and be swept up even faster than I did. What’s worse is that in a recent job, I forgot to stock up and I was actually upset at the end how much money passed through me that I wasn’t able to collect, I have literally gone Broke Bad. I don’t know whether to applaud the developers now or be disgusted by what they showed in myself…at least the money is good.
I honestly can’t walk away from this game with the same opinions that I had before. I’ve only been playing this game for a day and it’s already managed to make me not only doubt myself but turn on my convictions. Papers, Please had a similar moral track that you had to follow for certain endings, but Not Tonight has this system in place where you just do things because you want to do them. If you played Papers, Please or even Need to Know then I can’t recommend this game enough. Hell, just in general I recommend this game as a great way to experience yourself if you were put anywhere near this situation. It’s on Steam right now for a very decent price and there’s a new DLC coming out for it very soon. Until next time.