Not Tonight 2 Review – The Land that Trump (Almost) Created



Not Tonight 2

11th February, 2022
Platform PC
Publisher No More Robots
Developer PanicBarn

Do you remember when the world was a more straightforward place? I do. I remember when I first posted about Not Tonight and then reviewed it. This was back when all we had to worry about was Brexit crippling the UK and a mad, overgrown, Oompa-Loompa in the White House. Fast forward a few years; Brexit has crippled the UK economy, and our leaders are a bunch of corrupt fools who refuse to give back the £2m+ they have taken from those that support the child murderer called Putin. The Oompa-Loompa incited an armed mob to try and overthrow democracy in the USA, with the corrupt Republican party still showing support to him. That's before we mention COVID, but let's stick to a safe topic like politics before we annoy the morons (anti-vax & anti-mask crowd).

On the subject of the Orange-led armed mob attempting to overthrow democracy in the USA, Not Tonight 2 gives you a sort of look at what life could have been like while looking to build on the gameplay that Not Tonight borrowed from Papers, Please. After the first proved to be good, how does the sequel fare?

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The Papers, Please style of gameplay can only get you so far. That much is both undeniable and understandable. Once you've hit that point where you're checking everything from the date of the ID, the picture and age of the person, if they're from the right part of town, if they like the correct brand of soft drink (Irn Bru is the correct answer) and more, you know you've hit the limit. Not Tonight 2 looks at that limit and knows it's there; it's just absurdly trying to push the limit in the most awkward of ways.

You start as you'd expect, just making sure somebody is the correct age to enter an establishment. Fine. Then instantly, you're checking their age, that the ID is in date, and that they look the same as the ID. Like the first title, this check is abhorrently unfair because of the art style and how busy the game is. Within a few jobs, you're already at the stage where you've got to make sure somebody has the correct topping for their poutine, stopping wizards flying over, putting the right amount of air from tanks, and so on.

None of these feel like proper game progression. These new requirements get a quick explanation beforehand, then you never see them again. It feels far too gimmicky, and the game is generally the same. The overview of the new America, watching your trip as you have to make your way from Seattle to Miami, is lovely to behold. It looks good and has some generally eerie elements, such as meeting a group that may have jumped out of Deliverance in Canadian Montana.

It's on this map you find other elements. You've got a few decisions to make here and there. More often than not, you're choosing between a few options that either lead to your death and others are just checking to see if you have the required item to progress. Fortunately, when you die because of this, the game will make light of it and even of you reloading. You want to progress, of course. You have thirty days to get to Miami and save your friend who The Martyrs have arrested, these being the authoritarian leaders of the new divided states of America.

Not Tonight 2's problem seems to be consistency. In addition to the lack of consistency in the difficulty and progression, the game's general feel lacks consistency. In the first title, the cause and direction of Britain were evident; it was a dystopian and xenophobic nightmare caused by the leading party. Things naturally escalated as you got constantly pressed by the authoritarian state and its Nationality and Borders Bill. I expected much of the same here, but this is more akin to a parody of both the current - and potential future - of a failed USA under people like Marjorie Taylor Greene.

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Los Angeles has become 1950s London. Mount Rushmore is no longer - it's now a giant renaissance fayre. The proven impact of climate change has further blurred the lines between New York City and the Atlantic Ocean. Not Tonight 2 veers from serious to the absurd far too much, with all three characters taking different routes across the country. I suppose the sad reality is that following on from a serious game and taking it to the wacky doesn't work for me. It may do for you.

It's not that parts of the game aren't fitting. In some areas, you're ensuring anti-maskers (read: morons) don't get into a place. Other parts lean towards the fears of the right, where you're checking people to ensure they don't have a particular virus. Everything around the new North American continent is incredibly detailed in this exquisite pixel art; I wish the world that PanicBarn had created and developed were more relatable. Not that I relate to far-right policies and racism, but I can at least understand it.

I can only really mention one other aspect that hasn't been covered: the inclusion of health and morale. The decisions you make, and completing little side missions, can help boost these - and it's essential. You have to work, and working means you don't get much sleep, so your health drops by 10. There's no consequence in doing the side-missions to get a morale and health boost either; you're just letting somebody - or something - in which isn't meant to be. So long as you don't make too many mistakes in a night, you'll be fine.

You can also find many of the benefits and cons of the first title here. It looks and sounds fantastic. However, you'll also find it unfair because it seems to throw lines at you that you can't let in, but you still have a target to meet on the number of people let in. Little perks here and there can be nice, but you'll also get people wasting your time when you have to refuse them. I didn't notice any bugs, so that's a change for the better.

Not Tonight was an enjoyable title that brought the gameplay style of Papers, Please to a real-world setting, and it was believable. Not Tonight 2 is, like the first, more than playable and will give you a reasonable amount of fun or challenge even if this challenge is based on single-use elements. However, Not Tonight 2 isn't a good sequel to the first. It's not a bad game, but trying to tread the line between real and wacky takes far too much away. It raises the risk of alienating those who hate their politics being mocked and risks pushing away the people who liked the nature of the first.

Copy provided by the publisher.


Not Tonight 2 looks to build upon Not Tonight and the Papers, Please formula, but veers too far away from what gave the first its impact. One-off challenges and the veering between serious and slapstick make the game feel too unfocused, ultimately detracting from the game. It's not bad by any stretch of the imagination, it still looks and sounds great, but there are a few too many negatives and it's ultimately a shadow of the first.


  • Outstanding pixel art
  • Great soundtrack
  • Some characters, and the core story, are well enough developed.


  • However, the setting is absurd and takes away from the real messages the game seems to want to put across
  • Gameplay can be unfair as it throws people (etc) at you that you have to refuse, but the goal is to let however many valid ones pass.
  • Far too many one-use-only gameplay elements that don't really add or mean anything.
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