With a country divided in two by a wall, our ginger-haired protagonist must enter and win a reality TV show in order to be reunited with his family. Try your luck in the arenas as you continue to learn more about a fictional Eastern-European inspired regime and uncover its dark secrets. Only one contestant can be the winner, but at what cost?
Disclaimer: This review takes place before a major update that has seen testing/approval delays due to COVID-19.
In relation to the context of the regimented reality show that you’ve volunteered for, the gameplay consists of platforming segments through various security-enforced rooms. There are various hazards and oddly situated puzzles that makes you question the legitimacy of the show, as well as what is required of you to make it to the end alive.
Before the update, Ministry of Broadcast’s biggest foible would be its fidgety controls, especially during tense and time sensitive sequences. This gets worse during the latter portion of the game where you need to be almost pixel perfect, and this gets quite frustrating when the controls are deliberately made to be as rigid as they are. The pending update is promising to fix these issues, so we’ll be sure to update this review when it launches.
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For Ministry of Broadcast‘s switch release, the developers have implemented fantastic HD Rumble effects – broken legs, gun shots, falling stalactites, etc. With the game’s humorously over-the-top death scenes, the newly implemented HD Rumble makes each one feel much more impactful.
In terms of the gameplay, Ministry of Broadcast is quite limited to run, jump and action (used for flipping switches and the like), but it’s the game’s level design that takes this basic moveset and transcends it to a game full of intense moments and ingenious scenario puzzles.
The game is also very generous with autosaves, which is important considering how many times you are likely to die. There are quite a few moments where I’d be surprised if anyone were to survive on their first attempt as they can happen so suddenly, but the foresight to include frequent and strategically placed autosaves turns this from being an annoyance into hilarity.
The platforms are generally well placed and it’ll often take some investigating to work out the solution to most puzzles, however there were odd moments where the next platform underneath would be out of view of the camera, causing for some unnecessary leaps of faith. After a few hours, I deduced that the game would have greatly benefited from being able to move the camera around at the player’s discretion.
Ministry of Broadcast‘s plot progression is absolutely genius, with a clever amount of mystery that makes you question more once you receive an answer. The Eastern European inspired setting provides a sense of being under a secretive communist dictatorship whilst the dreary snowy weather does little to lift your spirits.
The dialogue is superbly written, with sarcastic dark humour and a Russian twang in each character’s words. However, there were times where I questioned whether this twang was a deliberate attempt to imitate a Russian speaking English, or whether they were simply poor grammatical errors. On the bright side, the world is full of propaganda and ‘Big Brother is watching’ with signs saying “We See All” and “Follow” whilst blinking lights on each wall’s security camera reminds you of your lack of freedom and humorously filling the game with satirical ingenuity.
I was also delightfully surprised when I realised that certain NPCs had multiple lines of dialogue in a single situation. For example, on day one in room 3, there is an open door that will close on you, with a crow on the other side that will mock you. By running back and forth and repeating this process, the crow will have five different lines and hilariously enough, will end with saying that it’s bored and will henceforth keep the door closed. It’s a small touch that actually may never be seen if they player doesn’t choose to go this way, but having comical instances such as these demonstrates the passion that the developers had for their game and how much fun they had making it.
Graphics / Art Direction
Ministry of Broadcast boasts very deliberate pixelated art style that resembles the blockiness of the Atari 2600, but with much more colour, texture and vibrance. It’s a very deliberate direction that works wonderfully in this instance, giving the game a unique presentation in amongst the slew of other pixelated indie games on the market.
Whilst this game is strictly on a flat 2D plane, the use of 3D depth by displaying objects to the foreground is simply sublime, enhancing its sense of being monitored by a strict regime’s TV show. Oftentimes I would stop to marvel at this effect and it simply brought the game to life in spectacular fashion.
Music / Sound Design
There isn’t much in the way of a soundtrack to Ministry of Broadcast, and that is absolutely a good thing. Aside from the tense music to compliment the equally tense moments, the silence and occasional sound of metal girders creaking effectively creates unease and heightens the paranoia.
Final Score: N/A
As this review is still in progress, we will not be settling on a Final Score until the game’s Story Mode update has launched.
Thank you for checking out our Ministry of Broadcast Switch review, thank you to Hitcents for the review code and thank you to our $5 and up Patreon Backers for their ongoing support:
- Andrew Caluzzi (Inca Studios / Camped Out!)
- Belinda Cubitt