Title: Ministry of Broadcast
Developer: Ministry of Broadcast Studios
Release Date: April 30, 2020
Reviewed On: Switch
Dark humor might be my favorite type of comedy. I enjoy the way it plays on themes and situations that might be cringy to some but provides an alternate view on interactions that we may encounter in our daily lives. Now, I’ll admit, this isn’t want initially caught my eye about Ministry of Broadcast. Instead, I think my addiction to retro platformers like Prince of Persia and Another World made this a game I had to play. With the title releasing on Switch, I thought there’s no better time than now, and thankfully I did because this game is fantastic. Still, like the platformers from our past, it can be incredibly frustrating.
Ministry of Broadcast sets the stage for its cinematic narrative by introducing a red-haired protagonist who serves as a contestant on a new game show. Evidently, winning this show allows him to escape to the other side of a massive wall, which will lead him to the person that he loves. He is incredibly focused on this goal and won’t let anything stand in his way, not even his roommate. However, he does it all in a way where he feels bad what he has to do but still doesn’t hesitate to step on a few heads to get where he needs to go.
The entire story turns into a creepy Truman Show-like experience where everything he does is somehow planned out by the mysterious operators known as the Regime. Its almost as if you think you are going against them, but you are just playing their little game, which raises tons of questions about what is actually real. This all leads to a rather exciting conclusion that isn’t what you’d expect from video games nowadays, which I appreciated.
The writing is incredibly witty and charming, and the characters really grow on you even though you barely talk to any of them. They each just have these characteristics that they play into each time you run into them. One thing that I didn’t like is how clueless the protagonist was at times and how willing he was to just fall in line and follow orders. This makes the game feel more like you’re watching a movie as you never actually feel like you are the protagonist. Instead, you’re just a passenger on his quest.
The gameplay is cinematic platforming at its finest. The controls are a bit finicky, and turning around can be slow, but this is just what the genre offers, and I unapologetically love it. It tests your skills in various ways, where you need to judge distances accordingly and always be ready to encounter some new obstacles that will quickly kill you. However, I didn’t like the water levels because you can’t swim, and that was just a little annoying. Luckily, puzzles are approachable, and anything you encounter can be overcome with just a little bit of thought put behind your actions.
That said, the game leaves little room for error. One misstep, and you’re dead. This just makes the game feel linear in the sense that there’s little reason to go through the adventure again unless you’re looking for your shoes. There’s another issue with checkpoints, which will be corrected in a future update. While it didn’t affect me too many times, there were moments where I would get sent pretty far back after death.
One thing that I didn’t like was how the developers got too creative with the UI. They used words like Rewind and End Transmission in the menus, which doesn’t really explain what they do. Well, Rewind will start a completely new game, which I learned after playing for three hours, so don’t make that mistake. Still, the camera overlay was a nice touch to double down on the idea that we are merely watching this man do these incredible things to stay alive.
The pixel animation in the game is excellent. The environments are vast and charming to explore. Each day offers a new puzzle layout and theme, as well as the possibility of discovering secret areas. There’s just very little to not like about the art direction here as it really fits the dark humor theme and sold the state of the mysterious world. Even the supporting characters appeared unique.
On Switch, I was able to pick up the game and play through a few puzzles throughout my day. The game can take about 10 hours to beat. However, there aren’t many reasons to play through again unless you want to find all the secret areas. As I said, once you get through the game once, you’ll be able to get through it again with little in your way.
Ministry of Broadcast is a well-made cinematic-platformer that does a great job presenting its dark humor themes through haphazard means. Sure, the game is incredibly linear, and there are some annoying puzzle layouts, but the overall experience is one that kept me coming back for more. The developer clearly had a vision for this adventure, and it shows during every minute of gameplay.
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