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As Dusk Falls Game review

Game review 20 July 2022, 16:00

author: Giancarlo Saldana

Giancarlo Saldana has been covering video games and tech for over a decade for publications like 1UP, GamesRadar, TechRadar, MacLife, Blast Magazine, and more. Twitter: @giansaldana

As Dusk Falls Review: Must Play TV

Ever play a video game that makes you feel like you are watching a movie or a television show? As Dusk Falls blends the best of both worlds and gives you plenty to think about.

The review is based on the XSX version. It's also relevant to PC, XONE version(s).

As Dusk Falls feels like an interactive TV drama because it has all the components that make for great television. You have a central plot that connects to various other smaller ones, characters that you empathize with, and clever writing that never fails to keep you entertained. The best part—besides the lack of commercial breaks—is that you have the power to decide on how the story plays out and what becomes of most of your characters.

Sure, many other developers from Telltale to Don’t Nod have given us the power to decide the fate of protagonists in the past, but the team at Interior/Night do it a little differently here and create an experience that feels like a seamless blend of television and video game. Not only does As Dusk Falls combine the best of both worlds, but it’s also darn good entertainment.

Choose Your Adventure

One main feature of the game that feels very different from other “choose your adventure” titles is that you don’t get to “play” it in the traditional sense. Most of the game is a constant flow of interactions and conversations that are only paused when you need to make a choice. If you didn’t know any better, you would think you are playing a never-ending cutscene, but the main difference, of course, is that it gives you a plethora of options to how to see it play out. In fact, it is due to this format that the game’s plot feels so easy to get sucked into.

Wasting no time at all, the first chapter of the game throws you right into a robbery gone wrong that introduces you two families whose lives will forever be impacted by the events that take place that night. The game lets you play as Vince, a father who was in the middle of moving to a new town with his wife, daughter, and elderly father when they are taken hostage, and Jay, the youngest, soft-spoken member of a family who resorts to burglary to pay off their debts.

PROS:
  1. Various branching plotlines based on your decisions;
  2. Clever writing and talented acting;
  3. The first book is full of action and drama straight out of a TV show.
CONS:
  1. Quick-time events seem unnecessary;
  2. Pacing in second book slows down the action;
  3. Multiplayer mode is totally optional.

Throughout its two books, each divided into three chapters, you will alternate playing as Vince, Jay, and other characters to see their side of things and learn more about the events following and before the robbery. Flashbacks provide you with context on each person’s motives and reasoning behind their actions, but your choices in the past can also influence what happens in the present day and even future. A game like this lets you shape how things play out, how characters respond to others, and even whether they find redemption or not. It really gives you the power to make the kinds of decisions you want whether they be virtuous, selfish or cautious, brash.

The beauty of games like As Dusk Falls that let you make your own choices is that there is really no right or wrong way of playing them. Your choices will always lead you down some path—perhaps not the path you may have wanted—so you also have to think about what repercussions certain decisions may have down the road. When you finish a chapter, you get a summary of your choices in the form of a giant diagram showing all branching paths your choices made. You also get to see empty areas for the decisions you skipped so you get an idea of how more complicated or involved certain scenes can be based on different choices. It’s quite impressive, and curiosity will make you want to play the game multiple times to see what else could have happened.

And that’s the thing. During each chapter, you will need to contribute to conversations by choosing one of multiple responses. How you choose to talk it out can not only impact the conversation, but also affects what other characters think of you—and yes, they will remember how you ended the conversation a few minutes and even a few days later. Sometimes your choices will come back to haunt you, but each decision simply leads you down various paths that can lead to different outcomes.

Choices Matter

Some choices will also be categorized as “crossroad” moments which can make a bigger impact on future events and can completely change how certain scenes, chapters, and even how the entire game finishes. While other interactions gave you a time limit to decide, these more pivotal scenes give you all the time you need. Interestingly enough, even these choices sometimes won’t give you the outcome you want as many other factors come into play such as past conversations or what a character thinks of you. These moments are not always black and white, and like life itself, can prove to lead to ambiguous outcomes whether you want them to or not.

And that’s not a bad thing. While you do have control to shape the game how you want, As Dusk Falls also doesn’t always make it easy for you as it expects you to pay attention. There is no “inventory” system so whatever information you acquire—think special code or unique fact—you need to remember it in case it proves useful to you later on.

VERDICT:

As Dusk Falls feels like an interactive TV drama because it has all the components that make for great television. While its quick-time events and pacing can disappoint at times, what truly makes it pop is its clever writing and format which puts you right in the middle of all the drama, action, and intrigue the game throws your way no matter how you play it.

Sometimes the best choice won’t be the right one, either. In one scene when you want Vince to be friendly with one of the robbers, you have the choice to joke with him, charm him, sympathize with him, or feign interest in his personal life. The choice may seem obvious, but you will be surprised by the various outcomes and conversations that can occur with each pick. You can sometimes save a conversation from going south, but there is so much nuance in certain exchanges that you won’t know what to expect. These twists and surprises are bound to keep you on your toes.

Besides making choices, As Dusk Falls shows it is still a video game by including quick-time events during certain scenes, but it didn’t need to. If you mess up, things can go awry, but because they are so generous and simple to complete, you will never run into that issue—unless, of course, you miss one on purpose. It would have been great to have some variety in what you need to do for these QTEs, but you will sometimes wonder if they were just included to keep you busy. If the story wasn’t so good, performing these QTEs would seem laughable.

While the first part of the game features lots of tense moments and writing that rival any primetime TV show you’ve seen before, the second part is a lot more mellow and features a lot of flashbacks that tend to drag the action down a lot. Don’t get me wrong, providing flashbacks in between the action is a great way to give the audience a break with something to contemplate for a bit, but the second book even includes a questionable flashback that is only important for one piece of information at the very end. Its redeeming quality, however, is that even your actions from hours ago in the first book will play a role in how the second book ends leaving you feeling nostalgic, surprised, and fulfilled all at once.

Final Thoughts

Surprisingly enough, the game also features a multiplayer mode that lets you invite players into your game to play together. When it comes time to make a choice, you can all vote on it, but you also gain the ability to veto any decisions as the host of the game. This option is fine for what it offers, but multiplayer removes the intimacy you get from playing the game alone and discovering what makes the many characters and even you as a player so unique.

As Dusk Falls Review: Must Play TV - picture #6

Our reviews are featured on Metacritic.

Ultimately, As Dusk Falls offers you plenty of nuance while still putting you in control of the fate of its talented cast. Even its art style which portrays its actors in hand-drawn images that are not fully animated allows you to focus on the emotion in their faces before moving on to the next frame of their animation. It’s a unique approach that gives the game a distinct look which makes you feel like you are reading a comic book while watching a live-action TV show at the same time.

Its these many touches and its branching plotlines that make As Dusk Falls a game you can play just once to enjoy or multiple times to discover a different outcome and experience. While its quick-time events and pacing can disappoint at times, what truly makes it pop is its clever writing and format which puts you right in the middle of all the drama, action, and intrigue the game throws your way no matter how you play it.

Giancarlo Saldana | Gamepressure.com

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