Don’t be put off by the unusual art style: Dusk Falls is fine. I’d even say it’s the best interactive cinematic game I’ve ever played, and I’m considering all the outputs from Supermassive (Dark Pictures games, etc), Erica from Flavourworks, Quantic Dream stuff (there’s a Quantic Dream here by the way) Dream link). Well, of course, it’s not a huge subgenre, but obviously more studios are getting involved, which is a very good thing in my case.
In case you didn’t know, interactive cinematic games are largely what they sound like: the action mostly happens without you. When you’re asked to make choices that significantly alter the story, your input comes from major decision points. It’s no exaggeration to say that a character lives or dies depending on the choices you make. These are big moments, but there are also smaller decisions that build on them, and there are quick events to fill in the gaps and keep you engaged throughout the process.
The magic of this formula is that it engages onlookers like a movie. People would yell “No, don’t do that!” and, “Run!” and that sort of thing, unknowingly throwing yourself into what’s going on. These games look almost as fun as they play.
As Dusk Falls takes it a step further, letting spectators join the game directly using a controller or using a phone/tablet via a companion app, and choose what they think the character should do. The most popular choice wins. There’s even Twitch support that allows viewers to do something similar. I didn’t get a chance to test the game with friends, but I did play it through the companion app and it was well controlled. The app effectively turns the phone into a giant touchpad.
But none of that makes As Dusk Falls good — it just makes it a certain type of game. The beauty of it is how it delivers it. Developer Interior/Night has a real understanding of what makes this type of game work.
Take art style, for example. It’s quite unusual – it reminds me of photorealistic comic strips from a few years ago, which I always felt too real life – and it’s not fully animated, which means, among other things, the characters’ lips are on them Does not move speech while speaking. It takes a while to get used to, but when you get used to it, it’s actually very effective.
It’s amazing how each scene is able to convey the same sense of drama and emotion as a full animation, relying on just a few keyframes. One of the key parts is how to capture the character’s expression well. It could be a head thrown back to create a loving look, or a distant stare as a character sinks into melancholy – whatever it is, you can see it clearly and understand it. They are images you can only create by looking at them up close, and I had to dig into Ed’s interview with interior/nightscape boss Caroline Marchal (Heavy Rain and Beyond: Former Chief Designer of Two Souls) and found that’s exactly what happened here The thing: The images were taken from the set, the performance was captured and then painted over. really do. Layer the audio and generally impressive sound on top, and once you stop looking for lip movement, you’ll forget anything’s missing.
The neat thing about this is that it removes all the laborious, time-consuming, and expensive animation work typically involved in making games of this type. No lip-syncing is required, which has the pleasant side effect of making the game very easy to localize in other languages (and includes voiceovers in many different languages). That means gaming is easier on the hardware as well, and for me, it runs fine in 4K on the Xbox Series S.
There’s also a sense that, by eschewing the heavy cinematic workload, Interior/Night saves more time and energy to focus on what really matters in a game like this: the story and the characters. After all, if we don’t care about them, why should we care about what’s happening on the screen?
Broadly speaking, the story follows two families who collide at a motel in small town – small town – Arizona. One is a family with young children and old grandparents on their way to their new home, and one is a family that has more trouble with makeup. But what initially looks like a closed confrontation will soon swell into something bigger that will spread over a larger area and many, many years.
It’s in telling As Dusk Falls’ truly great story that we take the time to showcase and surround almost every character we meet so we can understand who they are and why they do what they do. I’ve never seen a game as deep as Dusk Falls, and I’ve never delved into it and tackled a variety of topics. At the end of the day, this is a game about human and possible transformations in real life, a drama rather than a monster movie or sci-fi adventure. That doesn’t mean it’s boring – it’s definitely going to happen, and it’s a lot more than I expected given the drab beginnings – just that it presents some situations, as extreme as they may be, from a related , from the human point of view. That’s how the game deals with mental health, fair warning, suicide (though it’s obviously iconic and skippable), and it never feels sensational in doing so.
Games do this in a number of ways. There’s a storyline going on right now, but also flashbacks that backfill many of the characters you meet. These anchor to a few key playable characters, but pull others around them. Some flashbacks go back a few weeks, some go back a few years, and they all have powerful effects that can completely flip your view of what’s going on in the current timeline — and expand the game considerably.
Who’s the good guy and who’s the bad guy, it’s a debate you’ll keep going, and being able to play both sides of the equation at the same time makes for some puzzling decisions. I sat there for a few minutes at a time, chewing the toughest ones, staring at them like doors to the future I wish I could see.
The larger selections are not timed, but the smaller ones are timed to maintain rhythm and tension. This is another area, as Dusk Falls plays quite a trick in it. The art direction helps you by removing all the slack in-between moments that the game doesn’t need, although there are moments where you’re free to look around an area – moving the cursor to highlight points of interest, like in point-and-click games – you’re never alone . The pace is never slow. There was always a palpable sense of tension, and there were some wonderful surprises at the climax – I wrote “Wow!” and took notes a few times during events I hadn’t foreseen; because Dusk Falls wasn’t afraid to go there. It has more twists and turns than a hasty situation.
“Sometimes silly, as real as Dusk Falls”
It obviously takes a lot of inspiration from TV, breaking the game into chapters with an engaging intro to get you revisited and ready for another night of gaming. The chapters are then divided into two “books” representing the two main timelines in the game. All in all, it lasted me about six hours, but here’s a clear call to make a different choice again – after each chapter will show you a web of choices and consequences, showing but not destroying what you missed All possibilities.
Since Dusk Falls represents a bold new future for interactive cinematic games – a future where games can move away from supernatural wonders and thrillers, people have to rely on human drama to please us. Well, this does occasionally turn into a soap opera, but at other times it’s tender and deep and dark, even profound. It shows how games approach such stories and themes with care and understanding, and how it pulls us into the lives of others and throws us into the decisions they have to make. That’s my real impression of this game: the story – the human story. They are haunting, embarrassing and beautiful stories that I can see in the world around me and that I can relate to myself. It’s a game that reflects our own lives in many ways. As silly as it can be at times, Dusk Falls feels real and I can’t think of a higher compliment to give it.