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Game Info:

Ministry of Broadcast
Developed By: Ministry of Broadcast Studios
Published By: Hitcents
Release Date: April 30, 2020
Available On: Switch, PC
ESRB Rating: M for Mature: Blood, Strong Language, Suggestive Themes, Violence
Genre: Platformer, Action, Adventure, Puzzle
Mode: Single Player
MSRP: $14.99

I would like to thank Hitcents for sending us a review code for Ministry of Broadcast on the Nintendo Switch!

In 1949 the English novelist George Orwell gave the world a taste of what it would look like to live in a world where the freedoms of privacy and choice were completely stripped from the people of a proud nation. Simply entitled 1984, the novel would spark an interest in what the future would hold when it came to surveillance and control. Nearly 75 years later, we are now in the year 2020, and Orwell’s synopsis on a Big Brother government doesn’t just sound like science fiction anymore, but the near future for many present-day regimes. It is the perfect inspiration for video games and television shows, and that is exactly the case here.

Ministry of Broadcast Studios had a game in mind, a puzzle platformer about a man who makes his way through an Orwellian dystopia in order to return to the family he so loves. It is a simple plot with an incredibly deep and rich narrative. Over the last few years, I have personally watched the growth of this game as the studio posted updates on Twitter. Seeing the simple, yet strikingly detailed pixel art of the game reminded me of such great titles as Flashback (1993), Prince of Persia, and Oddworld. I was delighted when Hitcents gave me a key to a game that I invested quite a bit of interest in, and from the very start of the title, I was reminded of why I love the puzzle-platformer genre so much.

Ministry of Broadcast
Highlights:

Strong Points: Good retro-style puzzle-platformer; phenomenal audio mixing; reasonable challenge; simple yet detailed pixel art 
Weak Points: Platforming is not always precise; dialogue can be hard to read 
Moral Warnings: Lots of pixelated gore; dark humor; some suggestive themes; strong language 

After a great war, the people of the nation are separated by a massive construct known as The Wall, which was hastily erected by the new regime. Those who wish to cross through The Wall to see their families must compete in a grueling reality show where all of their movements are scrutinized by scientists and other authorities. Our hero, an unnamed protagonist with red hair, is one of those contestants who wish to beat The Wall and return to his family. Every day the contestants are brought to “The Arena” where they figure out puzzles for survival. Of course “The Ginger,” as our character is often called, rarely plays by the rules and causes more destruction than actual harmony with his fellow contestants.

This game is a “cinematic platformer,” which means that the story moves forward around the player as he moves through the environment. All the dialogue comes on the screen as word bubbles over the characters who speak, so if the characters are running, the words follow those sprites. I found a lot of the action difficult to follow because the words were not easy to read. The text is quite small on the handheld mode, and it does move rather fast for many people to read. However, the player is given the option to skip the longer dialogue scenes, so that provides an opportunity for speedrunners to cut to the quick.

Honestly, the dialogue itself becomes one of the most endearing parts of this game. Ministry of Broadcast is full of dark humor and sarcasm as the story goes from being a simple contest to something much darker. Our protagonist is a breath of fresh air among those with murderous intent, always seeing the bright side of every situation as if he is completely oblivious to the fact that he is in a convoluted Running Man tournament. And if he does die, which will happen a lot, a smart-aleck crow is always there to rub the failure of the players in their faces.

Ministry of Broadcast
Score Breakdown:
Higher is better
(10/10 is perfect)

Game Score - 78%
Gameplay 15/20
Graphics 7/10
Sound 10/10
Stability 3/5
Controls 4/5

Morality Score - 64%
Violence 2/10
Language 6/10
Sexual Content 8/10
Occult/Supernatural 9/10
Cultural/Moral/Ethical 7/10

As is the case with any puzzle game, the challenges increase in difficulty as the action moves forward. Ministry of Broadcast does not give the players a HUD or health bar to help guide them through the levels, rather it presents a more “organic” approach to puzzle navigation. The clues to complete each level are found in environments themselves, whether they be posters on the wall or something the guards say. Figuring out the puzzles is just part challenge, however, navigating them is another feat altogether.

Something I noticed very early on through my playthrough is that the developers took a great deal of care with their audio mixing. As simple as the game’s graphics may look, it sounds incredible. Every little detail from the boots tromping through the snow to the guard dogs licking their lips is heard with clarity. Most of the game is played without music, however, tense and ambient music will play during the more chaotic scenes.

The controls in Ministry of Broadcast are truly a blast from the past. Our red-haired hero does not run and jump like Mario but is more limited in his moves to promote the puzzle format of the game. It is similar to the movements of Abe in Oddworld, where he can only jump vertically when he is standing still and must run to hop over long gaps. It takes a little getting used to for players who are new to the genre, but luckily there is an Easy mode that slows down the action a little and gives players more grace in the platforming sections. Grace, it would seem, is something that is in short supply in the Normal mode, as the difficulty can get quite “sharp.”

The whimsy and humor of this game are apparent from the very beginning, but it doesn’t hold an M rating for no reason. To credit the dark humor of this title, the Ministry believes the best television comes from the most over-the-top displays of violence and gore one can witness. Throughout the game, our hero must overcome the odds or face an incredibly brutal death. He can be shot, mauled, impaled, crushed, eaten, irradiated, and yes, even blown up. Even though the violence is pixilated, it doesn’t take much imagination to know what is going on.

If I were to honestly approach this title, I’d say that I really enjoyed playing through it. Sure, it is a game based around the concept of a vicious totalitarian regime, but I found the heart and drive of the hero to be not only endearing but almost empowering. This game does play host to very violent content and even features some strong language, though I did not find the F word at all in my initial playthrough. There was no sexual content outright, but there are suggestive themes laced within the dialogue, especially among contestants. Keeping that in mind, those players who have sensitivities against this type of content might want to steer clear from this game. However, if you do choose to pick this game up, I think you will be drawn in by the powerful story and challenging gameplay. Just ignore the crow, it’s not like he’s part of the story, right?

About the Author

J.R. Sommerfeldt

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Christ Centered Gamer looks at video games from two view points. We analyze games on a secular level which will break down a game based on its graphics, sound, stability and overall gaming experience. If you’re concerned about the family friendliness of a game, we have a separate moral score which looks at violence, language, sexual content, occult references and other ethical issues.

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