Categories: Video Games

The As Dusk Falls review: let’s face the consequences of our choices

With As Dusk Falls the development studio Interior Nightborn from a rib of Quantic Dream, gives us a spectacular narrative adventure, whose boundary between videogames and interactive TV series is extremely blurred. The lives of two families, apparently different but united by the same problems, intersect in a Motel in the middle of the Arizona desert, in a hot summer of 1998. As Dusk Falls begins like this, with one family on the road and the other on the run, if there is a difference between the two: let’s find out what it is in our review.

Released for PC and Xbox on July 19, 2022, As Dusk Falls is distributed by Xbox Game Studiosand it’s available from day one on the Game Pass catalog. The game mixes point-and-click elements with an open narrative based on decision-making: every choice will influence events, and the possibilities are almost endless. Not only that: the decisions we will make will alternate over two different time frames – present and past – and through two chapters (called books) divided by a further time jump.

As Dusk Falls: The fate of two families is intertwined at the Desert Dream Motel

The story follows the journey of Vince Walker, a middle-aged man who is crossing Route66 with his family (his wife Michelle, his 6-year-old daughter Zoe and his father Jim), to move from California to New Mexico. In the middle of the Nevada desert Jim’s car breaks down due to a near-accident with a pickup truck driven by three thugs: the Holt brothers.

The family finds themselves staying in the Desert Dream Motel, which is then robbed by the Holt themselves. At this point we will play the role of Vinceand we will have to make important decisions, to ensure the safety of our family. However, every choice has consequences, and we will learn to understand that nothing is as it seems. We will in fact be hostages of the Holt brothers, while the police – led by the enigmatic and ruthless sheriff Dante – will try to negotiate. However, we will soon discover that there is no real boundary between good and badespecially if everyone is immersed in their own despair.

In the second book of the game we will instead follow the events of Zoenow grown after the events of the Desert Dream, but that still carries within the events of that terrible night.

The psychology of the characters

A song comes to mind from Dogs called Wes Anderson. In the text Niccolò Contessa sings: “And the bad guys aren’t really bad. And enemies aren’t really enemies. But even the good ones aren’t really good ”. What in fact makes As Dusk Falls such a little gem is its own the care of the characterswith a storytelling that, although it presents some small and negligible flaw, keeps the players glued to the screen.

Indeed, it would be too easy to assume that the robbers are the bad guys and that the police can be trusted. The careful psychology of individuals characters, never two-dimensional, gives us back a living ecosystem of people, all moved by precise reasons. And it will be up to us to deepen their backstories and the dynamics that move them, choosing who the bad and who the good. Bad and good who, even in this case, will only relate to our condition: that of hostages.

With a well-curated artistic style, a perfectly rendered Italian dubbingand an infinite amount of variables, As Dusk Falls confronts us with the harsh reality: every choice, even the apparently smallest one, paves the way for us to a precise destiny. And every man, even the most ruthless, has a past and motivations. From this point of view the game reminds us that nothing should ever be taken for grantedespecially if you are hostage in the desert with your family.

Another recurring theme is that of fear. Little Zoe’s fear of the dark, that of losing her family to Vince. The fear of being left alone by Elder Jim – who hides many unsolved secrets – and that of not being able to be the man of the house of Tyler Holt, the eldest of the three brothers.

The gameplay of As Dusk Falls: simple but functional

As players our task will be to choose between various options, which as mentioned will significantly affect the plot. In addition to this the game offers us gods small mini-games and of point-and-click situations. All this will form the character, intuition and reflexes of our characters. Traits that will then be summarized at the end of each of the sub-chapters that make up the two books.

The players we will find ourselves in charge of are Vince and Jay Holt (the smallest and most docile of the brothers) in the first book, and the now teenage Zoe and Jay again in the second. At any time we can decide to replay a certain scene, making different choices, and making the story evolve in a new direction. In this regard it comes to our aid a graphic that shows us the narrative evolution given by the choices made.

Also it is possible to play As Dusk Falls in co-op (both locally and online) up to 8 players. In this case each player will vote for a choice, and the most voted option will win. Perfect for an alternative evening with friends.

Summing up: what is As Dusk Falls like?

It must be said that it was not easy, especially at the beginning, to get used to jerky graphics that characterize the narration. However, after an initial disorientation, which could lead to abandoning the title within 10 minutes, it turned out impossible to detach ourselves from the screen. The story is simply too well written to bore, and it doesn’t matter if the narrative reveals the small flaws. At each scene we will discover something more, which will make us constantly change our minds about the nature of the characters we will meet.

The game succeeds in the incredible result of immersing ourselves in the shoes of the characters we will command, making us protagonists of the action, without ever forgetting what our priorities are. We will meet again in front of important ethical and moral doubtsand not infrequently it will be necessary to find the right compromise to get what we want: the safety of our family.

Summing up, As Dusk Falls is a little gem, whose replayability is almost unlimited, guaranteed by the narrative variables. The possibility of enjoying the experience in co-op only adds to this title that, we assure you, it will keep you in suspense.

PRO

  • Available on Xbox Game Pass
  • High replayability
  • Co-op up to 8 players (online and locally)
  • Narrative
  • Three-dimensionality of all the characters
  • Spectacular art style
  • Smooth transition between the various stories and timelines
  • Dubbing in Italian

VERSUS

  • Jerky animations might be annoying
  • There are some forcing in the story (albeit negligible)
  • The amount of variables could be confusing to those who prefer a linear plot

Published by
Marco Dellapina

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