I’ve always had a fascination with Big Brother games; like Orwell, The Beholder and Papers Please.
That’s why when I heard about Headliner, my first thought was that I HAD to play the game.
The good news?
I have! I’ve even completed it a couple of times.
Is it any good though?
What is Headliner: Novinews?
Headliner: Novinews (Headliner from here on out) is a 2D adventure game where you’re the editor in charge of a national newspaper. Your job is to approve which articles see the light of day and which don’t.
You’ll have to form your own opinions and judge which news pieces are worthy of being published. You’ll also need to consider the implications of what you’re publishing, as they’ll directly affect your life, your family’s and the lives of other citizens in the country.
It’s a sobering reminder of how the media can easily influence the masses with just a nudge here and there. The power of the media is readily apparent in Headliner; you’ll see the consequences of your actions immediately, as each night has you walking back from your office to your house.
As you walk, you can see other people discussing the news pieces you published and how their worldview is shaped by it. Do you encourage xenophobia and stoke the country’s nationalism leanings? Stand behind universal health care at the cost of medicine shortages? Support a police state for safety and peace of mind?
You’ll have to juggle everything in Headliner and seeing how you affect the world around you is part of the charm of the game. Whether the country falls into ruin, becomes a police state or turns into an utopia is all represented in a visual form, a nice, tangible (and gratifying) result of your choices.
On top of that, you’ll also have to manage your reputation. Leaning to far to one side and you might have people out for your blood. Stick to the middle ground and you might find your message be not as effective.
Even how you treat the characters you meet will have different consequences; sometimes those may be tied to the news, other times completely dependent on how you replied or acted.
Hell, even not interacting with the characters will influence the outcome in some way. It’s damn awesome.
I love the subtle touches the game has regarding how everything plays out and wish they’d do more along these lines instead of the broad strokes with the news coverage.
Nuance is much more impressive, instead of being browbeaten because you chose a news piece supporting a police state (which leads to that result).
Not enough meat.
I just wish the game was lengthier.
Headliner takes place over a span of 14 days. No matter what you do, the game will ALWAYS get on Day 14, triggering the ending you get for your actions. You’ll have to restart the game again to get a different one. A standard run will last about an hour or two, so it’s no marathon by any strength
Headliner’s novelty doesn’t wear out, even after repeated playthroughs just because there can be so many different outcomes! Weirdly, the game even acknowledges your multiple plays, with different dialogue from certain characters you meet.
The bottom line.
As a game, Headliner could’ve used more articles to approve, with much more branching consequences. More length for a playthrough would also be nice, along with more customization options.
However, as a piece of social commentary, Headliner is spot on and drives home its point in a great, nonjudgmental way. Finding out you inadvertently cause a fire that kills a girl is a sobering reminder that sometimes, good intentions won’t always lead to the outcome you want.
Needs to be lengthier but great game and social commentary piece.
- Choosing the news you want to push and seeing the consequences.
- Nice, simplistic visuals.
- Great social commentary tool.
- Too short.
- Needs more news pieces with more subtle effects.