As Dusk Falls Review
As Dusk Falls is an ambitious and impressive interactive story that tells a complex, multi-generational tale, my full review.
As Dusk Falls is an incredible game that flawlessly combines interactive fiction with intense and emotional gameplay. With a gripping plot, fantastic writing, and superb voice acting, As Dusk Falls is one of the best story driven narratives I've experience in a game in a long time. The game isn't perfect, but it is anchored in excellent storytelling that is worth your time. It's an ambitious tale that covers a lot of ground, let's head to Two Rock, Arizona to fully explore all As Dusk Falls has to offer.
As Dusk Falls Details
Platform(s): Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S and Windows PC
Developer(s): Interior Night
Publisher(s): Xbox Game Studios
Modes: Single-player, multiplayer
ESRB Rating: Mature 17+
The Story in As Dusk Falls
The story's narrative follows a multi-generational tale about two families whose paths cross in the Arizona desert in 1998. The game opens with a robbery gone wrong, and then follows the intertwining fates of the two families over a 33-year period. The Owens and the Cooper-Williams families are forcefully intertwined through one fateful night.
"The Owens and the Cooper-Williams families are forcefully intertwined through one fateful night."
The narrative is well-written and expertly told, but also suffers from a few pacing issues. Throughout the game, players will experience pivotal moments from the perspective of different characters, all of which come together to create a powerful and moving story.
The visuals in the game are presented in a graphic novel style format that move frame by frame with only a few animated elements. It takes some getting used to as the story is essentially told through digital paintings. There are very few 3D rendered environments, and you won't be navigating through spatially arranged "levels" like a traditional game. At first, it was difficult to get used to, but the story really shone through and kept me engaged. The stellar audio and voice acting really filled in the blanks for my overall experience.
"The stellar audio and voice acting really filled in the blanks for my overall experience."
Sound Design and Voice Acting
The voice acting in As Dusk Falls is top-notch, with every character delivering believable and convincing performances. There are some notable names among the cast such as Elias Toufexis (Assassin's Creed, Call of Duty) and Jane Perry (Returnal, Hitman). The game's sound design is also excellent, with an original soundtrack from forest swords that perfectly sets the tone for each scene. I found that what the visuals may have lacked at times, what made up for in the sound, especially with the excellent voice acting performances.
The gameplay in As Dusk Falls is simple, focusing more on the narrative and less on player reflexes. This is, of course, by design in order to expand the number of more casual players that can get into the game. Using your cursor you select dialogue queues and character actions to move the story forward. Player choice at pivotal moments will drastically change the outcome of the story, and the different families' fates.
"Player choice at pivotal moments will drastically change the outcome of the story, and the different families' fates."
This is done in the aforementioned "graphic novel style" where you do not actually control characters, just choose different prompts. There are also Quick Time Events or QTEs where players need to swipe their mouse or joystick in a certain direction or mash buttons to complete tasks. Playing on the Xbox Series X I found the cursor for making selections a little sluggish and unresponsive. Luckily the game offers a generous amount of time to make decisions so this wasn't a "deal breaker" when it came to enjoying the game.
As Dusk Falls even has an interesting multiplayer component, which stands out as a big highlight for me. In the 8-player mode everyone votes and once a consensus is reached pivotal narrative decisions are made. It really pushes the interactive story genre to new heights, and the story has so many forking choices, it would be difficult to repeat the exact same story path.
"It really pushes the interactive story genre to new heights, and the story has so many forking choices, it would be difficult to repeat the exact same story path."
Final Thoughts on As Dusk Falls
Overall, I would highly recommend As Dusk Falls if you’re looking for an emotionally powerful and moving story. It’s definitely one of the best narrative driven games I’ve played in a long time. The visuals might take some getting used to, but the forking narrative more than makes up for it. If you're looking for an engaging and thought-provoking experience, then you'll definitely want to check out As Dusk Falls.
"If you're looking for an engaging and thought-provoking experience, then you'll definitely want to check out As Dusk Falls."
As Dusk Falls PROS
+Terrific voice acting
+Forking story options push the genre
+Multiplayer mode is an unexpected, fantastic component
As Dusk Falls CONS
-Visual style is lacking
-The story suffers from pacing issues in the later chapters
-Cursor interface is sluggish on consoles
-QTEs are unimaginative, and don't seem to fit in some scenes
Overall Rating: 33.5/40 (85%)
A copy of the game was provided by the publisher for the purpose of this review.
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