A couple of years ago, Microsoft revealed the interactive drama As Dusk Falls to the world. The game’s emotional trailers, intense music score, and unique art style have all helped it stand out in the increasingly crowded space of similar titles like Supermassive’s games, the Life is Strange series, and Telltale’s various projects. Unfortunately, As Dusk Falls fails to live up to the high bar set by others in its genre, and it will likely leave players more frustrated than anything else by the time the credits roll.
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As Dusk Falls is split into two distinct “Books,” with Book 1 all about a hostage situation at a roadside motel in Arizona, and Book 2 dealing with the aftermath of that event. In Book 1, As Dusk Falls players are introduced to the key cast of characters, themselves split into two different factions. There’s the troubled Holt family, with players taking on the role of the youngest brother, Jay, and then there’s the Walker family, represented by player character Vince.
At the start of the game, Jay and his brothers Dale and Tyler botch a robbery, so they hide from the cops at the Desert Dreams Motel. The Walker family and the employees of the motel are taken hostage, but what happens next is up to player choice. As Jay and Vince, players make choices that shape the narrative, deciding the fates of the characters and the ultimate outcome of the whole ordeal. Other characters become playable in later chapters, but the first half of the game is squarely focused on Jay and Vince.
As Dusk Falls is like an interactive TV drama, with tight writing (besides a moment at the end of the game that requires a sizable leap in logic) and impressive voice acting going a long way in bringing the story to life. It’s full of twists and turns that will keep players on the edge of their seats, though things start to stumble in Book 1 Chapter 3. It’s at this point where pacing becomes a big issue in As Dusk Falls, and it’s a problem…