As an Xbox owner I am the first to say things have been quite quiet on the exclusive front, with not much happening since Halo Infinity landed. So when a new exclusive breaks cover, it’s a bit of an event to say the least. As Dusk Falls is the latest game to join the Xbox exclusive ranks from London based studio INTERIOR/NIGHT which was founded by creative director Caroline Marchal, who formerly was part of the Quantic Dream Studio. This is an important fact as it shapes what to expect from the studio’s output, as it deals in heavily driven story tales with a few interesting twists… and that is exactly what As Dusk Falls is on paper: an interactive drama that explores the entangled lives of two families, across a thirty year timeframe.
If you’re looking for a thrill-a-minute action packed ride I am afraid this isn’t the one for you. It’s very much an interactive movie in a lot of ways, with only a few actual gameplay sections thrown in for good measure. It all starts in 1998 with a robbery-gone-wrong in small-town Arizona, which brings in its interesting cast of characters in a tale built around betrayal, sacrifice and resilience. It also brings to the table the core mechanic of choice, as you have power over where and how the tale evolves. Even the smallest of choices will end up having huge impact on the characters’ lives later down the line. This also means no two games will be the same “technically” as there are a very impressive number of paths you can take, which will diverge things in the tale… and also highlights that replaying the game is a major part of its hook to see where the other options would take you.
As for gameplay in As Dusk Falls there are two main elements, the first is choosing how you want situations to go, with some having a limited time window to do so; and the second is a set QTE moments, which (fear not) gives you what feels like an age to enter the needed input. Beyond that there isn’t really much on the gameplay front, which is a shame in a way, but also just reinforces the importance the team at INTERIOR/NIGHT have put into the tale they want to tell. Another striking feature of the game is the visuals which sees a mix of 2D characters and 3D backgrounds with a rotoscope style, very similar to that seen in the Keanu Reeves sci-fi flick A Scanner Darkly. It will jar with some people, as though its art style is top tier, it’s a bit lacking in character animations. Seeing pacing and any sense of urgency drop dead at times, scenes are left motionless while dialog is dumped on you. It’s an odd situation, but after a bit it does detach you from it and it moves just a bit too close to the visual novel line in ways. Voice acting though is outstanding across the title, with the cast really putting in a shift doing a lot of the carrying needed for the tale, even if the on-screen action doesn’t do them justice at times.
Beyond replaying the game, you can grab a few mates and hit the couch to play as a party, as the game has a supporting app, where things take a more town meeting vibe and you have to agree to what options to choose. There are a few cards up your sleeve to veto or cancel some choices, which help to add a bit of real world action to the game. As Dusk Falls is an interactive movie in more ways than one and full of choices, but it’s not the exclusive the vast majority of Xbox fans will have been looking for or even want. If you’re looking for something different for a games night with mates, or a change from the usual Friday night Netflix offerings it’s worth the look.
An Xbox review copy of As Dusk Falls was provided by INTERIOR/NIGHT’s PR team, and the game is out now on PC and Xbox as part of Game Pass, or around £30 on its own.