Interactive adventure games have become a vehicle for some of the most immersive and cinematic stories in gaming. Developers such as Supermassive Games and DONTNOD have established themselves quite well in this field, and INTERIOR/NIGHT is the latest to take a crack at the genre with As Dusk Falls. This choice-based adventure tells a riveting narrative that stuck with me long after I walked away from it.
All knotted up
As Dusk Falls follows the story of two families over the course of three decades. Early on, their lives are intertwined forever following a robbery job gone wrong. There are themes of loyalty, betrayal, and perseverance. The story is told out of chronological order, as we frequently jump back and forth in the timeline to experience key moments in the lives of our characters. This non-linear approach helps to shed context on the relationships without constantly dumping exposition onto the player.
As an interactive story, the narrative in As Dusk Falls is dictated by player choice. You constantly have to choose between different dialogue choices and actions. The results of these decisions can be both small and large, and the game actually lays out every choice you made and what outcome it led to after every chapter. It’s the best illustration of player choices and their respective consequences I’ve seen in the genre. The branching pathways show just how many directions the story can go, and encouraged me to go back and replay certain sections after I was finished with the chapter.
Ask Dusk Fall really captured me with its characters. Though I favored some over others, they all felt like genuine people with unique motivations and life experiences. Although there are “good guys” and “bad guys,” there’s actual nuance to what’s unfolding in the story. It made it far more challenging for me to make those split second decisions in the more intense moments.
While there is some excellent writing here, a lot of the credit should also be attributed to the vocal performances. The characters of As Dusk Falls are all fully voiced, and they give a lot of emotional weight to the story material. Elias Toufexis (Vince) and Jack Bandeira (Dale) stuck out to me as particularly impressive performances in the game, although everyone brings their A-game.
A fork in the road
The gameplay in As Dusk Falls revolves around selecting dialogue/action options, completing quick time events, and exploring the immediate area point-and-click style. Playing on Xbox, I found the on-screen cursor to feel a bit clunky as I moved it around with the analog stick. It was as if there was the slightest delay on my input. Luckily, the game does let you use the dpad to snap directly to different options. Perhaps it was designed to be played with a mouse or touch screen, as there is a companion app that players can download and use as a controller.
The quick time events in As Dusk Falls task the player with tapping and mashing buttons, as well as swiping and rotating the analog stick when prompted on-screen. As someone who’s played plenty of similar games, I found the QTEs in As Dusk Falls to be refreshingly challenging. There’s a pretty small window to complete them, and there were a couple that I actually missed along the way.
Exploring the various locations is pretty standard, as you check cabinets, open windows, and complete tasks that reveal more about the story and characters. In several instances, you’ll stumble upon some bonus information that can inform your decisions down the road. This also goes the other way, as you can easily overlook certain details that could have potentially led you down a different path.
While the gameplay aspects of As Dusk Falls are pretty sound, they are more so the bits that break up the extended dialogue and cutscenes. This is perfectly fine, but just be aware that it is a very narrative-heavy experience should you choose to check it out.
A layered story
As Dusk Falls’ unique art style doesn’t see the characters or their movements fully animated, instead it's presented as static digitally rendered art that I would compare to reading a graphic novel panel by panel. It took me a while to adjust to this approach, but once I did, it was much easier for me to be immersed in the story. The artist at INTERIOR/NIGHT still manages to convey a range of emotions in its characters while using this style.
As a story with so much dramatic tension, it was a bit disappointing that the music of As Dusk Falls didn’t do much for me. An often quiet game, there is music that kicks in during some of the more intense sequences, but it's usually pretty reserved and generic. It’s nothing that I’ll seek out on its own, and it failed to really contribute to the cinematic experience. A narrative-heavy game like this could have really benefited from a more bold original score.
With the cinematic nature of interactive games, they’re often fun to share with friends and family. The devs had this in mind and implemented multiplayer features that let you enjoy the story with others. Multiple friends can play both locally and online, controlling different characters and dictating the direction of the story as a group.
As Dusk Falls is an impressive debut from INTERIOR/NIGHT. It tells an emotionally impactful story with some solid vocal performances. The branching storyline is cleverly implemented and the multiplayer features offer a convenient way to play with friends. As Dusk Falls is a clear indicator that the future is bright for INTERIOR/NIGHT.
This review is based on a digital Xbox Series X code provided by the publisher. As Dusk Falls releases on July 19 for Xbox One, Xbox Series X, and PC for $29.99 USD. It will also be available on Xbox Game Pass.
As Dusk Falls
- Solid writing
- Impactful themes
- Unique art style
- Standout performances
- In-depth analytical feedback
- Music is subpar
- Cursor feels clunky
Donovan Erskine posted a new article, As Dusk Falls review: Interwoven destinies