As Dusk Falls review: A perfect Xbox Game Pass title, unlike anything else
New studio Interior/Night makes a strong statement with its first game.
With As Dusk Falls dropping onto Xbox Game Pass this week, many players will be tempted to check this game out as part of their subscription. And if you are thinking of jumping in, what are you in for? We’re here to help you find out!
Despite being the first game from a new London-based studio called Interior/Night, As Dusk Falls has some serious industry pedigree behind it: CEO Caroline Marchal worked on such well-regarded narrative games as Heavy Rain, and production director Charu Desodt brings social-multiplayer experience from the likes of SingStar.
In quite a surprising way, those two sensibilities combine in As Dusk Falls. This is a story-driven, choice-laden game through and through (fans of Telltale games will enjoy seeing the stats on which choices were most popular), but there’s a big social element at play as well: you can make all these choices with friends in groups of up to eight players, connecting online or locally (or a mix of both).
Despite that interesting combo at the core of this game’s DNA, the first thing you’re likely to notice about As Dusk Falls is its art style. Taking inspiration from graphic novels and paintings, the game does not animate its characters in full. Instead, you see a series of hand-crafted still images that blend eye-catching backdrops with photographed actors and a few animated elements (e.g. a character's hair might be blowing in the wind, but their mouth won’t move when they talk).
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This takes some getting used to, and for some players, it might feeling jarring throughout the entire game. However, there’s no denying that the visuals are striking and beautiful at regular intervals, and the voice cast is consistently strong, convincing you that these characters are real and worth worrying about, even if they’re static beings most of the time.
For our money, the art style stopped being a concern after the first couple of chapters. Once we knew what to expect, we were far more interested in guiding our characters to happy outcomes, as opposed to worrying about what they looked like. The story should be the star of the show in a game like this, after all.
Split up into six chapters (each of which is roughly an hour long), the core story of As Dusk Falls takes its inspiration from prestige TV, with the likes of Breaking Bad and Ozark being touch points for the developers. As you might expect with those sorts of influences, families in peril are the order of the day here.
The main chunk of As Dusk Falls is set in Arizona in 1998, with two families’ fates intertwining on one fateful day. One family is driving across the USA, taking the scenic route as they move house for the dad of the family’s new job. Another family is in deep trouble, plotting a robbery to get themselves out of a financial hole made by their father figure.
The player (or the group of players, depending on which way you choose to play) gets to control members of both families, guiding them through quick-time events (QTEs) and making decisions both big and small to drive the story’s direction. This is a fun experience at its core – even though a couple of outcomes seem pre-determined, there are loads of big events that you can alter the paths of.
Roughly every 20 seconds, there’ll be something for you to decide. If you’re playing on your own, it’s all down to you. If you’re playing with friends, you’ll take turns on the QTEs and vote on the decisions. You’ll each get a few chances per chapter to override your fellow players and force your choices through, but you’ll want to use them wisely as these are limited. We’d thoroughly recommend playing in a group if you can, because those bickering arguments about what to do really add something to the experience.
To say much about what the story covers would veer into spoiler territory, but suffice it to say that we felt properly tense at some points, and we went straight back into the ‘story tree’ after completing the game to revisit key moments and try to save a few more family members. That’s surely a sign that the game sucked us in and made us care for these people.
On top of the likeable characters (on both sides of the familial divide), the unique art style and the twisty narrative, another thing that will stick with us is the music. A number of licenced tracks underpin the excitement, coupling with the original score to create a memorable soundscape that ratchets up the ominous small-town vibe at some points, and ear-worms you with a catchy chorus at others.
For us, As Dusk Falls is a perfect Xbox Game Pass game – it’s short and snappy, a bit different to anything we’ve played before, and it’s well worth checking out if you’ve already got a rolling subscription. There are certain things in the story that rubbed us up slightly the wrong way, and the art style won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but the positives far outweigh the negatives here.
Our recommendation? If you’re a Game Pass member, don’t hesitate to hand over six hours of your life on As Dusk Falls. You’ll be rewarded with a tightly wound narrative experience packed with personality, boasting plenty of moments that will stick in your mind afterwards. And if you can, play it with friends to get the best possible experience!
As Dusk Falls launches 19th July on Xbox Game Pass for PC, Xbox One and Xbox Series X/S. We reviewed on Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S.
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