LifeisXbox’s As Dusk Falls review | As Dusk Falls is Microsoft’s most unique IP in a long time, it dares to do something different. Created for the type of gamer who likes Tell Me Why, another story-focused game from Xbox Game Studios, Life is Strange or the long list of Telltale games. While Tell Me Why was developed by the great people from Dontnod, Microsoft took more risks with As Dusk Falls. The newly created studio, INTERIOR/NIGHT didn’t have a track record besides having some Quantic Dream and Sony veterans. And damn, that risk pays off as the game is hella-tense, to say it in Chloe Price’s words. These type of story-focused games aren’t for the mass audience and As Dusk Falls still-images cutscenes narrows it down into an even smaller audience box. But trust me, give it a chance and you’ll absolutely love it.
ℹ️ Reviewed on Xbox Series X | Review code provided by PR/publisher, this review is the personal opinion of the writer.
What we Liked!
- Realistic story | In life anything can happen in an instant, that’s exactly what happens with the characters in As Dusk Falls. There are no supernatural things or too far-fetched elements, everything that happens is something most of us can relate with. From bad luck, trust issues or unexpected loss. The game makes you feel something, and if you ever read my reviews before you know how much I appreciate it when a game manages to do that. The quality of the writing and character voices are high, making it a truly interesting interactive movie.
- A realistic storyline that is not predetermined, you decide! | Crossroads, they are called. These are moments that change the story so much that you can replay it several times. This path is nicely represented in a story tree menu, where you can also see percentages of decisions made by all the other players that made it past this part. Outcomes are very different, even with extra survivors or deaths. From this menu, you can also decide to take a different path. So you don’t have to start from scratch to save time. Still, it’s quite an achievement to present it so clearly and smoothly, certainly something that other similar games can learn from. The real impressive thing here is that decisions really do have a big impact, I even dare to say that this is the biggest example in the genre about how it should be. Everything has consequences, starting from the very first decisions in the first chapter to the very last one.
- Alone or with friends/family | You can play it perfectly alone, I find it the best way to experience it, but you can also play it with others. In the same room or even online! When you have to choose which dialogue to follow, a total of eight different people can vote. The one with the most votes will then be chosen, it brings more uncertainty. That’s why I prefer to play it alone, because I want to control the story myself. You can use a wild card if you want to go for a certain choice, but that does not do the voting system justice. But that’s just my opinion, of course, the fact that you can ‘play’ As Dusk Falls with the family opens completely new doors to getting everyone behind the Xbox.
- You immediately notice the art style | Games like Limbo, Gears of War or Cuphead have such a visually recognisable art style that other developers are quick to copy it. As Dusk Falls is undoubtedly going to be such a visual style that will inspire other developers. At first, it’s an adjustment not to see moving cutscenes, but the quickly succeeding still images convey a lot of emotion and detail. The quality of the graphics is outstanding and the facial expressions are perfectly rendered. I am aware that not everyone will be a fan of this style, but I was won over and it felt innovative. Would it have been better as a FMV and not the painted over live-action? I’m confident in my answer here, no.
- Fantastic voice-acting! | You could say that As Dusk Falls really needs good voice actors. After all, you already have no moving pictures to tell the story. In itself an incorrect statement because the art style just has a lot of emotion and a guiding principle for the story. Still, As Dusk Falls is carried by a masterful cast of voices. Rarely have I seen a better cast together who can perfectly empathise and put the right level of voice or emotion into something. Hats off! I’m pretty sure this will be the best voice acting of 2022.
- Can we call this a game? | Calling this title a game is perhaps a bit too much. Netflix has been experimenting with interactive films and series for some time now, As Dusk Falls fits in better with that kind of entertainment. A milestone, in fact. This is exactly what Netflix or any other streaming service would need to enrich the viewing experience or bring friends and family closer. Does that mean it doesn’t fit Xbox? It’s an odd duck but I think gamers need to broaden themselves with experiences, and the few interactive elements make it cool to play with a controller or tablet. Especially online with others or those in the living room. Taking into account Xbox Game Pass, it makes it a right choice for Microsoft to fund As Dusk Falls. People who don’t touch an Xbox at all suddenly become a target group.
What we Disliked
- More gameplay variations would have been welcome | I am completely on board with the concept but I missed more unique gameplay actions. It’s all very limited with quick pushes on A and swipe movements. Why not give more control to the player/viewer? For example, if a character is chopping wood, they could have handled that better, instead of some simple ‘press A’ things. Definitely a working point for the studio to give more attention to the ‘gamer aspect’.
How long to beat the story | 6 hours
How long to achieve 1000G | Unclear for now, will update later.
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