When a developer says that their game was inspired by the likes of the original Prince of Persia and Oddworld: Abe’s Exoddus, it’s REALLY going to pique my interest – they were both some of my favourite games in my younger years, though their satisfyingly tricky platforming and puzzling has rarely been re-created to the same standard these days.
Ministry of Broadcast was supposedly inspired by both of those games as well as the likes of George Orwell’s 1984 and even (quite bizarrely) modern reality TV shows. It sounds like a peculiar combination, right? Well, it all comes together to make for a really enjoyable gameplay experience, with the satisfying platform-puzzle mechanics and the grim premise ensuring that Ministry of Broadcast offers an undeniably unique escapade.
Ministry of Broadcast isn’t vocal about too many story details from the get-go, with little said about its dystopian world or fascist undertones. What you do learn is that you play as a man named Orange (aptly named after his ginger hair) who partakes in a mysterious reality show that consists of working through dangerous arenas, all in the hope of earning the chance to go past ‘the wall’ and reach his family on the other side. A lot of the details about the world, its history, and ‘the wall’ are shrouded in secrecy, but you do get the chance to learn more about them as well as Orange’s own story the further you progress through the game’s treacherous trials.
One thing that I really appreciated about Ministry of Broadcast was that it would bring plenty of small details into the plot, with the player able to eavesdrop on the conversations of fellow competitors as well as the staff in the area. Not only did this reveal neat story points, but you’d also find out more about what others think of Orange or even how the world around you was crafted – I found it particularly interesting to find out how the planks were perfectly designed to be fragile when you walk on them, which ties into both the overall gameplay and a common trope of the platforming genre. It also showed that Ministry of Broadcast wasn’t afraid to mix a little bit of humour into the narrative, regardless of how bleak the world it’s set in might be. It certainly doesn’t take itself TOO seriously, but it’s something you’ll enjoy witnessing in-game.
Whilst I did appreciate all of the care and detail that has gone into Ministry of Broadcast’s plot, I’d be remiss not to mention that the script has a fair few typos and instances of broken English. It doesn’t ruin the game at all and everything you read makes sense, but it’s clear that it was written by somebody who had a different first language.
Ministry of Broadcast’s gameplay is pretty simple, with the player working through an assortment of 2D environments that are full of platform-puzzle scenarios. It’s all about running, jumping, interacting with objects, and solving puzzles in a variety of ways, all whilst carefully positioning yourself to climb platforms that are directly above and below you… you know, like in Oddworld or the original Prince of Persia. Fortunately, there are no evil Sorcerers or Sligs to cause you harm here – just plenty of traps and rabid dogs.
Whilst the basic mechanics of Ministry of Broadcast are fairly straightforward, the clever puzzle design ensures that you’ve always got to think outside of the box in order to progress. Whilst there are plenty of creative ways to approach puzzle-solving thanks to its intricate design, sometimes the best way to overcome a challenge is by simply exploiting your fellow competitors. Are there a bunch of spikes in your path? Lure the other folk in the arena to fall into them to make yourself a nice little human bridge. Is there a vicious dog prowling around? Divert its attention by leading it into the path of one of your competitor ‘friends’. It’s a grim approach, sure, but it’s survival of the fittest in Ministry of Broadcast and sometimes you’ve just got to get your hands a little dirty. I loved it and it just added to the grim atmosphere of the experience perfectly.
As you progress further through Ministry of Broadcast, the puzzles grow in scope and introduce more complicated mechanics. Naturally, this brought with them a tougher difficulty, with some puzzles leaving me scratching my head for some time before I was eventually able to solve them. Sometimes I’d get a ‘eureka’ moment and figure a puzzle out, sometimes I’d get there with a bit of trial and error, whilst other times it was simply dumb luck that saw me progress – either way, there are plenty of varied enigmas to face in Ministry of Broadcast that will really put your skills to the test. That’s not a complaint by any means though, with the challenge making the game feel all the more satisfying to progress through.
A lot of the game’s puzzles will blend in some tricky platforming too, so you’ll need to both think and react quickly if you want to survive Ministry of Broadcast’s more deadlier arenas. Whilst I enjoyed the platforming in the game, it could be a little bit TOO unforgiving in places – there’s little room for error when you’re leaping across the crumbling platforms, so if you mistime your jump by millimetres you can expect to fall to your doom (with a surprisingly satisfying and bloody crunch). You’ll be working against small time limits and forced to react quickly at times too, which makes everything all the more difficult.
Fortunately, checkpoints are pretty common in Ministry of Broadcast and the reloading process is swift, so you’re never out of the action for too long if you do die. It didn’t stop me from wishing that the game’s platforming was a touch more forgiving though…
That’s not to say that Ministry of Broadcast doesn’t have some impressive and enjoyable platforming set pieces, with each presented in surprisingly cinematic fashion and ramping up the desperate tension tenfold. One particular favourite saw me having to run across falling scaffolding before it completely collapsed, which felt exciting from both a gameplay and presentation standpoint – sure, it’s not as spectacular as the set pieces you’d see in a triple-a release, but it didn’t stop it from being a blast to leap through here.
The ways in which you die can be creative too, with Orange able to meet his maker through a myriad of viciously imaginative means. You’ll get mocked by a nearby crow whenever you die too, who happily gloats as your lay lifeless on spikes or with an icicle implanted in your skull (just to name a couple). Nobody likes dying in video games, but Ministry of Broadcast is tough so you might as well start appreciating how creative your deaths can be.
Ministry of Broadcast offers a thoroughly entertaining platform-puzzling experience that’ll hook you in with its uniquely grim (and often comical) narrative. The puzzle design is clever throughout and some of its enigmas will take some real thinking to solve, though it’s possible to rely on a bit of luck at times too. The platforming is also solid throughout, even if it could be a little unforgiving in places – just be prepared to die a lot if you don’t hit every jump perfectly…
If you loved the likes of the Oddworld titles or the original Prince of Persia, Ministry of Broadcast will certainly tick plenty of boxes for you. It’s old-school, challenging, and intricate in design, but it’s also so damn fun to play.
Developer: Homeless Unicorn, Ministry of Broadcast Studios
Publisher: PM Studios, acttil, Ministry of Broadcast Studios
Platform(s): Nintendo Switch (Reviewed), PC