AS Dusk Falls has been getting a lot of buzz since it appeared at the Tribeca Festival earlier this year, and having played it myself now I can say – spoiler alert – it’s fantastic.
As Dusk Falls (published by Interior/Night for Xbox and PC) begins in 1998 with the Walker family travelling across the United States’ famous Route 66, when they are abruptly forced to make a stop in a small town in Arizona following a car accident and the accompanying wait for the repairs.
You will then get to meet the Holts, a local down on their luck family consisting of three brothers. Jay, the playable main character of this family, takes the spotlight as the youngest of the three. The two families’ paths collide fairly early in the game with no apparent consequence, but boy are we all in for a bumpy ride.
While I’ll do my best not to spoil any of the main story of As Dusk Falls, I do need to let you know that this is an adult game. It deals with adult themes, family conflict, mental health and suicide – so put the kiddies to bed when playing this.
In saying that, this game tells not just one or two great stories, but many due to its story tree that is prevalent throughout the game and accessible for you to review and start off from certain points after your first playthrough.
Xbox head Phil Spencer has previously spoken about missing game types in their portfolio,, this game fills that gap for the likes of the David Cage series of games over on the PlayStation with titles like Heavy Rain, Beyond: Two Souls and the latest, Detroit: Become Human.
After having played this game from start to finish twice and selecting different story trees I can let you know that this game does a fantastic job of tying up loose ends and filling story gaps, so you’re not questioning what happened or changed with the different choices you select.
While the story starts out in 1998, it tells a story spanning 30 years through flashback and forward scenes of the game that never come across as making you wonder where it is you are or who it is controlling.
Interior/Night has done a great job with their storytelling making sure the connections all feel genuine and have a purpose.
The Walkers consist of husband and wife Vince and Michelle, daughter Zoe and Vince’s estranged father, Jim. The Holts, meanwhile, are on the run from the police following a robbery and stash their car at the motel, where they are confronted by the owners and two of the Walkers.
It is from here where the rest of the game plays out.
Movement is point and click style, which I thoroughly enjoyed as it took away the monotony of modern games of this nature of looking around to try finding what it is you are looking for.
You will spend most of the time completing Quick Time Events (QTEs) which can differ between simple game mechanics or timed set pieces where your decision will leave you at a ‘crossroad’ – the game’s version of a butterfly effect, which can change the course of the game’s story and have either immediate or down the path effects on the story.
These QTE’s can be very forgiving, while some are blink and you miss. So make sure you’re always ready to play these out as it can sometimes impact the outcome of the story.
Surprisingly, the game has a multiplayer option, allowing play with up to eight players locally or online, don’t have 8 controllers? They have made a solution for this by being able to download an app from either iOS or the Android store so everyone can join in on the fun. While I was not able to test these features during the review, it plays out as a voting system so you can not only play with friends but also have people chime in while streaming the game. It will be interesting to see how this all plays out.
The back stories of the Holt brothers are a key focus of the game. While you mostly play as the good-hearted Jay Holt (youngest brother to Tyler and Dale Holt), who is always seen to be picked on due to his kindness as not being as hard skinned as the older two brothers.
The older brothers always seem to try their best to look out for him all the while trying to toughen him up with bully tactics. It is through the flashback scenes that you will see the motivations and reasoning behind why both families are as they are presented throughout the game and can absolutely change your perspective on the outcome of the game.
Saying much more about the story risks spoiler territory and the many surprises the game may have – suffice it to say, it’s one of the best told stories of the year, and that was from just two outcomes the game had to offer after my time spent playing the game.
The art style of the game is something that you will either love or hate – I really loved the noir style comic book telling of the game which harped back to the storytelling of the original Max Payne series.
In conclusion, I cannot recommend this game enough – and it’s a huge bonus for gamers that it is on Xbox Game Pass.
If you are thinking of treating this game as a ‘one and done’ game you would really be doing yourself a disservice, given the many stories and outcomes to explore.
With each playthrough lasting around 6 hours between 2 books and 6 chapters, this is a must play for lovers of video game storytelling in an adult driven crime drama that explores what and how far you would go for family.