Xbox has taken a few big hits from the postponement of long-awaited blockbusters Redfall and especially Starfield. Still, it offers the chance for smaller titles that the publisher offers to catch the spotlight. One of those titles is As Dusk Falls and whether you should play the game you will find out in our As Dusk Falls review.
As Dusk Falls is a cinematic game where you determine the course alone or with a group of up to eight players. You follow the story of two families who meet each other in a fateful way. A hostage situation arises and the consequences of this will haunt the families for decades to come.
Don’t delve into the story
We don’t really want to give away any more details about the story. As Dusk Falls stands by the story that developer Interior/Night wants to tell. It is an intimate, bombastic, and chaotic story that is told brilliantly.
Through a small cast of playable characters, you experience both sides of the story. For example, you play as a family man Vince who, together with his wife, daughter, and father, is stranded in the Motel Two Rock. From the first moment, it is clear that you just want to do your best as a father, but that behind the scenes there are also things running through your head.
On the other hand, you gain control of Jay Holt, the youngest in the Holt family who is gentle and does not want to be involved with his family at all. Due to a bad situation, Jay robs a bank together with his brothers who force him to do so.
The contrast that this creates during the first few chapters ensures that the majority of the choices are exciting and you do not know exactly whether you are making the right choice. After all, you want the best for both the innocent Jay and Vince and his family. The dilemmas that this creates for yourself and especially your group of friends are incredibly cool.
Choices, choices, and more choices!
Making the choices is therefore central to the gameplay. Not only do you choose what the characters say, but also what they do. When you play with a group, the majority decides which choice is made. In case of a tie in the choices, the option is given to reconsider your choices and in case of another tie, a virtual coin is tossed to make the choice.
Again and again, it is interesting to see what choices are made, both your own choices and the group with whom you play the game. Do you decide to steal a wallet? It is these kinds of small choices that can influence the story along the way and that sometimes make you want to beat yourself up.
At the end of each chapter, the game then shows each player what his or her norms and values are. It’s cool to compare this with your friends and tells quite a lot about your personality. That way, As Dusk Falls also makes you think and the deep conversations go on for hours about the choices you have made.
That Interior/Night cleverly uses your choices (possibly) against you is a smart piece of design. We didn’t expect anything else from Caroline Marchal’s team who previously played a big role in the development of Heavy Rain and Beyond: Two Souls. Marchal knows better than anyone that choices have to have enormous consequences and as a player, you are rewarded. Especially if you start a second or third playthrough.
Time for rounds 2, 3 and 4
There are plenty of different endings and the fact that the game can be played in just under seven hours really only motivates. After seeing the credits, we couldn’t wait to play the game again to see if we could get a different outcome. There are many ways in which the story can proceed, although unfortunately it must be said that the second part is less strong than the first.
It is in the so-called second book in the story extends a bit further. As a result, characters who were extremely important in the first hours become more in the background and that is a pity. After all, you have built up a bond with those characters in just a few hours and want to see how their stories continue and the writers sometimes drop some stitches there.
Daring art style
Another aspect that is immediately noticeable is that As Dusk Falls has a special art style. It is a mix of photorealism with a painted layer. It is only striking that the characters do not walk or that the mouths move a lot. Instead, the images merge into each other and the camera is often played with to provide dynamic images.
Where there is animation, such as with a moving car, it becomes clear why. The animating itself is fairly stiff and doesn’t look fantastic. That’s why we chose the overflowing images that give the game a comic book-like feel. It takes some getting used to, but fortunately, this takes about fifteen minutes after which you are completely sucked into the story.
An advantage that the studio does get from the hand-drawn images is that a lot of emotion can be given to the characters. The brushstrokes know how to portray the emotions of the cast and therefore strengthen your own feeling in every situation. It actually ensures that you can make your own choice even faster and that’s a good thing.
Some of the trade-offs you have to make go lightning fast. There are also QuickTime events that you have to respond to. Anyone who plays with friends (who, by the way, can easily play the game via their phone) discovers that every player has to pay attention. Some QTEs are only deposited with one player and whoever goes wrong can only ruin an important moment.
Playing in a group is how the undersigned experienced the game itself the most pleasantly, although there is one mechanic that still comes into play. It concerns the Override system. It gives each player in the group three chances to seize power over a decision.
In theory, it gives the player who is the only one who wants to go the other way the power to force this. In practice, this only works out differently. Overrides can also be used when someone already placed an Override. As a result, the underdog can easily be sidelined.
The Override system therefore only adds something if you are a very sparse player and even that has a downside. If you wait too long, the chapter is over. That ensures that everyone has three Overrides again in the next chapter and so you have to put all your patience back and hope that the rest of the group loses the Overrides.
As Dusk Falls Review – The Surprise of the Year
Despite the Override system that doesn’t come out quite right, Dusk Falls is an experience you don’t want to miss. It is a pleasure to play this game with a group of friends due to the countless choices that constantly have a tangible impact on the story. The fact that you can reflect on this afterward and share it (if you have played the game in multiplayer) makes the experience extra cool.
If you play the game alone, you also do not have to worry that the experience is less. The story is fantastic to experience and tastes like more play sessions to see how the characters could deal with situations in a different way. The art style will not attract everyone and for a sequel, with a little more depth in animation work the game would certainly not be out of place.