As Dusk Falls – a review of a great psychological crime story, but is it still a game?

If you consider history as one of the basic elements of games, then As Dusk Falls was created just for you. You will find a lot of emotions, anxiety and even emotions here. It is a pity that this production is dangerously on the border between a film, a game, and … an illustrated book.

As Dusk Falls – game, movie or maybe an interactive book?

I don’t want to go into the definition of what a game is, because I would probably come to the conclusion that even everyone’s life is a game. However, in this traditional understanding, I see more and more blurring of boundaries in electronic entertainment. After all, is an interactive film, such as Black Mirror: Bandersnatch or Eric, far from “full-fledged” narrative games like Detroit: Become Human or The Quarry?

I have to admit that I really like productions focused mainly on the plot, but the first time I saw As Dusk Falls, I was close to bouncing off her. All because the visual setting is at least unusual here. Animation is almost completely lackingand the events are presented using static charts. It’s like recording a movie, and then every second (or several) cut one frame from it, pass it through a filter in a graphics program and set it as a background for the events taking place on the screen, which in themselves are based mainly on the characters’ dialogues. . If you can’t imagine it, be sure to check out the trailer.

Launch the video

From myself I can say that at times I felt as if the creators made something similar to an illustrated book for children – the teachers read the content, and the subsequent graphics show what we hear about. At this point, however, I must point out that the As Dusk Falls sound setting is one of the best I have ever experienced in games. Professional actors impersonating characters read their lines phenomenally. On the other hand, the music tracks in the menu and during some scenes, if they were not already on my private playlist, I quickly added them to it, so that in my free time I could listen to the music I learned here.

As Dusk Falls - a decision crossroads

Once upon a time in Arizona

The most important thing about As Dusk Falls, however, is history. This a multi-threaded story about two familieswhose fates intertwine in the late 1990s, during a motel robbery on an interstate in Arizona, America. Initially, strangers, as a result of many dramatic events, will become strongly connected with each other and the actions taken by them will have a very large impact on the state in which other companions will come out of this story.

At several points in the game we are warned that the topics discussed here are difficult and not suitable for everyone. Yes, we can find brutal violence, family conflicts, experienced traumas and even a suicide attempt. In the latter case, we can choose to avoid the scene before the scene, as a result of which it will always end positively (i.e. the character’s experience).

As Dusk Falls - make a decisionAs Dusk Falls - what will you do?

As Dusk Falls - a specific visual setting

It is worth knowing that thanks to the unusual visual style, there are no suggestive, bloody animations here. On static boards it’s easier to accept violence and not be disgusted with it, so I wouldn’t insist on saying that this is an adult only game. Although, of course, some topics are simply difficult and evoke sadness or emotion rather than joy.

Often, in games of this type, I have the feeling that everything will turn out almost the same, regardless of choice (oh, it’s the old The Walking Dead and the like). Another time, like in games from Supermassive Games (Until Dawn and the aforementioned The Quarry), it happens that either I do not know what the consequence of my act will be and I shoot the blind or a failed arcade stage will destroy my entire plan for success. These are examples of bad narrative game design for me.

In turn, As Dusk Falls is almost ideal in this respect. Choices really matterand after each of the six chapters we see the timeline and the impact of individual events on others. If we want, we can recreate them from any moment to change the course of fate, which reminds me a bit of the independent Eternal Threads (if you haven’t read about it yet, be sure to check out our review). It is a great treatment too evaluation of the style of playthanks to which I learned, for example, that I value family values ​​and make decisions quickly.

As Dusk Falls - timeline and decisions made

As Dusk Falls - style summary

As for the arcade fragments, these could not really be, because they are very simple and require only moving the mouse or the knob in the selected direction or pressing only one button. Well, I understand that there must be some “game in the game” and the creators made sure that while watching this story, be vigilant all the time.

As Dusk Falls - party

Fun for everyone

As Dusk Falls also has the advantage of that allows up to eight players to have fun at the same time. Anyone interested can grab phones with a dedicated application installed and join the session. Then individual elections are held by voting, as was the case for example in the game Hidden Agenda on PS4. I played alone and I must admit that it would be difficult for me to accept other choices in some situations. Fortunately, the most important ones for the plot are properly marked and have no time limits.

A plus is also due to generally understood availability. We have here not only a Polish text translation, but also additional subtitles for the deaf and the possibility of increasing the time for making decisions. You can also enlarge the cursor, highlight all interactive points in the scene or use the text-to-speech conversion. Some players may find these features extremely useful.

As Dusk Falls - Polish language version

As Dusk Falls – is it worth buying?

As Dusk Falls is an amazingly good production providing approximately six to seven hours of immersive history. During this time, I liked a lot of characters, not necessarily those who appeared as positive characters from the very beginning. As I progressed through the stages, I really cared about their fate, and after completing the story, I turned on a few fragments to see what impact other decisions would have on the plot. And you have to know that this doesn’t happen often to me and usually ends with “someday I have to try a different path”, and then the game lands on a pile of oblivion.

The problem is that I’m not convinced that As Dusk Falls can be fully deservedly called a “game”. The answer would probably be yes, but this is not a standard adventure or arcade game. If only there were more animations here, I would consider it one of the better interactive movies I have read.

After all, As Dusk Falls is quite original, and for sure he cannot be denied a good script and a brilliant soundtrack. It may not be for everyone, but considering it is available as part of the Xbox Game Pass subscriptionit would be a sin not to try. Maybe the fork knife will appeal to you … unless you bounce off the trailer (because of this rather unfortunate graphic style), which is also possible in this case.

As Dusk Falls - at the pool

Rating of As Dusk Falls “game”:

  • good, suspenseful story
  • elections have logical consequences
  • world music and the work of teachers
  • a lot of configuration options and the possibility of multiplayer games
  • timeline and summary mechanics encourage you to go through more than once
  • as for the game, the mechanics are very simple
  • not everyone will like the specific graphic design
  • Graphics:
  • Sound:
  • Playability:

The game was played as part of the Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscription