Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Headliner: NoviNews Review (PC)

 The news isn't always printed in black and white, Headliner. Hit "Read more" for my full review.

Many months ago, Headliner: NoviNews popped up in my recommended on Steam. It looked up my alley, as someone who enjoys story driven experiences in my games. So on my wishlist it sat! Until recently... While it wasn't part of this year's Steam Summer Sale, I saw a Youtuber I like by the name of Call Me Kevin play it and wreck the lives of practically everyone around him in the game. This peeked my interest once more and I bought it in a bundle with the first Headliner. Short review on the first game: A good foundation to a building of promising gameplay but extremely short and the art of the characters in it threw me off. Anyway, on to the review!

From the Store Page on Steam:
A stack of news article sits on your desk, two stampers on each side - green to approve, red to reject. Your reporting team is hacking away in the background as corporate music plays through the loudspeaker. It's time to make decisions. Will you endorse nationalized healthcare, even though your love interest is worried about increased wait times? Will you demonize the new synthetic alcoholic drink, even though your boss stressed they are an important investor? Will you support current government, as tensions grow between the neighboring country?
After work, you emerge on the streets of Novistan, shaped by the very news you publish. Perhaps you will see more graffiti, angry bums or even a riot? Or perhaps you will turn the nation into peaceful utopia, filled with cameras and drones watching your every step? How will your channel address tragic events about to happen? Will you agree to meet the clandestine group of truthtellers, or stop to watch the Prime Minister's speech? 

On the way home you meet with three main characters: Evie, your co-worker and immigrant, worried about her health and growing xenophobic sentiment; your brother Justin, an aspiring comedian struggling with impostor syndrome and social anxiety; finally Rudy, a single father trying to provide for his little girl and keep his store afloat, while a mega-mart opens up next door. Each day provides a glimpse into their life and how the media shapes their beliefs. 

But every Headliner deserves to relax at home from the stress of the job. Listen to the radio and unwind on the comfy couch bought with hard-earned cash, as you watch the city burn outside the window. Perhaps splurge on treats to feed your doggo? Adopt a drone? Have your brother over for dinner? Or maybe keep your doors locked, hoarding every penny, as your apartment slowly fills with piles of cash? 

After good night's sleep, it's time to once again face to boss, new articles, a growing sense of responsibility, and.... power.

Gameplay: In Papers, Please styled segments, you approve the news for that specific day and after your shift you walk back to your apartment. ...Sounds simple, yes? More complex and detailed than that. During your walks home, you run into different characters such as your coworker Evie, an immigrant from neighboring Learis, your depression riddled and aspiring comedian brother Justin, and simple father and convenience store owner Rudy  You get to know these characters more and more during the two week period the game takes place in. The world shapes around you with each news story you dish to the news hungry public and the dialogue choices you choose. Will you promote xenophobia and rally behind PM Wolff? Will you promote the strange synthetic alcoholic drink BetterBuzz to keep your boss happy? Or will you promote nationalized health care, knowing many may suffer in the process? These choices and more affect your playthroughs and give many outcomes that you can experience.

: A huuuuuuuge step up from the groundwork set in place from the first Headliner, like damn. The art of the characters is extremely pleasing to the eye, backgrounds catch your eye with subtle hints of change and the graffiti on the walls that change almost every night on your walks home push the impact of the world that you are shaping as the Headliner.

Sound: Nothing to write home about, good music in the game though for sure.

Final Thoughts: Headliner: NoviNews is one helluva game that I highly recommend checking out if you love games where your choices matter greatly to the story. It's leaps and bound better than its predecessor in every way imaginable and is a fun thrilling tale from start to finish. Don't even wait for a sale, it's that damn good. 9/10

Dev's Blog (He seems to be a cool dude.)

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