Reigned by a number of respected industry veterans, gamers were teased during the showcase as to what this newly fabricated powerhouse of talent has been brewing over the last several years. I was fortunate enough to get a hands-on look at a preview of their forthcoming interactive crime drama and dive into the first couple of chapters. Boasting a rather expansive decision-making system with a multitude of different outcomes, as well as a very unique and distinct visual aesthetic; I was equal parts intrigued and overwhelmed regarding how this cinematic adventure would play out. What I can say now with certainty, is that I’m left here anxiously awaiting its full launch and wanting more. This is a very ambitious and emotionally driven experience with a ton of replay value.
As Dusk Falls is an impressive interactive thriller set in Arizona
Delivered in the form of an interactive graphic novel, players are introduced to the stories of 2 families currently residing in Two Rock, Arizona during the late 90s. A series of unfortunate events leads to both groups of characters crossing paths at a dingy motel, quickly escalating to an intense hostage situation that becomes the center stage of the episodic adventure (at least for the first 2 chapters available in the preview). Through a series of dialogue-based decision-making and quick time events, players are given full control of how this gripping drama will play out along the way, and your actions have a ripple of effects that can only be experienced through multiple playthroughs.
Mechanically, the gameplay aspects are quite basic in As Dusk Falls, with its core focus revolving around storytelling and character-building to maintain the player’s immersion. Fortunately, both the scripting and plot so far have been phenomenal and realistic, having me feel that this story could actually happen in real life, or something similar already has. The dialogue choices always felt deep and meaningful; having a way to make me really think over what I chose to do next. In a Tarantino-esque series of reveals, I found myself bouncing between timelines and events of both families, learning histories and personal agendas, as well as the dynamics leading up to the current altercation. The quick-time events popped quite frequently(usually during a physical action occurring), with a small timeframe to execute them properly. The same went for the majority of the dialogue choices too.
Your choices seemingly matter
At times, ‘Crossroad Decisions’ would prompt during an interaction. These seem to be the more crucial turning points regarding the story, going hand in hand with the replayability of the game. Having played this preview several times now, I will say that the number of different outcomes and changes to the story is impressive but almost overwhelming at the same time. At the end of each Chapter, both a summary report and a vast web of branching story paths are revealed, detailing your own actions as well as the many that you can potentially open up having selected different responses during your playthrough. I feel this may be a bit of a turnoff for individuals who rarely go through a game more than once (myself included), however, the overall pacing of this adventure is tight and engaging, and I’ve found myself wanting to go back to see what else could potentially happen if I switched my choices up.
The visual design is pleasing, colourful, and honestly unlike anything I have yet to experience in a game. The actors are rendered in digitally to each environment, delivered in a series of stills over top of detailed and handcrafted backgrounds. I’ve yet to encounter any performance issues either during the game itself, though I did notice the menus and startup screen felt a bit choppy. The voice acting is incredibly well done as well, maintaining a mature tone that’s almost a necessity for a suspense-driven experience such as this.
Narrative-heavy experiences in gaming don’t appeal to everyone, but I feel As Dusk Falls does a fantastic job separating itself from the majority of the genre with its unique gameplay loop and gripping, emotional storytelling. Rarely do I find myself playing a choice-driven game where I’m actually contemplating what consequences my future choices will have, and how they will alter the fate or future outcome of a character. A very strong sense of realism is injected into both the story and the individuals residing within, which I find to be a rare feat personally. A multiplayer option is available too, and I’m curious to see exactly how it will perform. This preview alone was more than enough to secure my hype for this engaging and thrilling adventure, and I can’t wait to play it in its entirety.
We’ll have more in the coming weeks when As Dusk Falls launches on Xbox Series consoles, Xbox One, and PC on July 19 and Day One on Xbox Game Pass.
Ryan M is a long-time gamer and geek. Ryan grew up gaming with his dad and now gets to share that same passion with his kids. A huge advocate for indie-related projects, and enjoy stepping out of his comfort zone with different genres.