Not Tonight: Take Back Control Edition Review
Not Tonight is a time-pressure post-Brexit game that cleverly brings us a look into an individual’s life as their world shifts due to the political decisions in their home country. Having the choice of joining the resistance or to quietly work and let the days pass by, Not Tonight carefully and creatively crafts a simple yet intriguing game to challenge the player to test their moral values, their decision-making capabilities, and how well they work under the pressure of having to survive.
You are Immigrant #112, a normal person stuck in an unfortunate circumstance where your only means of getting by is to work as a bouncer in a gig economy. Through using a BouncR app installed on your phone, you will accept random bouncer jobs that earn you money – the more experienced you are at one location, the more money you will make there. The goal is to make enough within one year, which means for one year you will be mainly checking IDs, paying bills, establishing relationships, and waking up the next day to do it all over again. From having to turn people away to accepting their bribes, the choice is yours when it comes to how you want to earn your keep in this dark, dystopian world.
The game is what you make it, and as each day progresses your jobs get harder and your life becomes more interesting. Your duties as a bouncer shift based on what is happening in the world, and your life changes depending on what you decide to do. No matter how challenging the task becomes, from identifying the underaged to managing a guest list on the side, the job is the same. Arguably, this is the life of Immigrant #112 and they have no choice but to undergo this task every night (or when available) to make ends meet. Luckily for us players, each level starts introducing new rules, which keeps the game from becoming too monotonous to complete.
While the idea of working as a bouncer for an entire year may not be the most exciting plot to a video game, Not Tonight throws in a couple of twists and “side missions” that can propel the story into different directions. Early on you start receiving mysterious letters, are told to find and avoid certain characters, get text messages by mistake, and the list goes on. It is up to you on how you choose to respond (or not) to everything that is happening, and of course you can blissfully ignore warnings too. There were moments that challenged my moral compass, and for the sake of keeping things interesting I have entertained questionable requests, sold drugs, and let underaged kids into a club just to have fun and see if I got into trouble.
Fun, Yet Imperfect
Even though the game does not ask the player to do much, I find it doesn’t perform its best on the Nintendo Switch. With numerous buttons and choices to make, Not Tonight doesn’t have the most intuitive controls. There were moments where I struggled to even place an object into my bag, and even simple things like checking notes, calendars, and picking up gigs I found hard to navigate between the different tasks. Fortunately the clunkiness only occurs during your own free time when you want to check your stuff, so this doesn’t affect the gameplay when performing time-sensitive tasks, as there seemed to be no problem with rejecting IDs and flipping through pages in your guestlist.
Another thing to note is while the pixelated graphics are well-done, there were parts of the game where you have to check the photo ID of the individual as well. Sometimes this is easy because for some strange, convenient reason, they will wear the same purple hat that they wore when taking the photo in their ID. However, a lot of the times it’s not so easy. There have been many occasions where I’ve let in the wrong person in even though I was positive I was right, and sometimes I can’t even tell what clothes they are wearing (which becomes another criteria later on). When it comes to these cases, you just have to take a gamble and see if you want to let them in or not, but really if this was a part of the game, it should have been easier to differentiate.
Overall, Not Tonight is incredibly fun – repetitive, but fun. The different conditions in each level keeps the monotony of the task interesting, and the strange situations that challenge your moral reasoning makes each hour spent more entertaining than the next. With its satirical tone and quirky storyline, the game mocks political movements and stereotypical characters while presenting to us a simulation game for adults to enjoy. After spending hours playing this game, I feel like I could probably work as a pretty efficient bouncer in real life now.
***Nintendo Switch review code provided by the publisher.***
- Good learning curve
- Fair reward system
- Unique experiences
- Risky decision-making is exciting
- Repetitive tasks in the main story
- Hard to differentiate between characters
- Controls don’t feel efficient