As Dusk Falls review: Xbox’s atypical narrative adventure

an as dusk falls character looks concerned in the diner at night.

As Dusk Falls

MSRP $29.99

“As Dusk Falls is an atypical narrative adventure game with a compelling story about family.”

Pros

  • Strong script

  • Relatable characters

  • Choices really matter

  • Beautiful art

Cons

  • Clunky controls

  • Dull quick-time events

During the last two gaming generations, developers like Telltale and Quantic Dream redefined the narrative adventure genre, putting less emphasis on point-and-click puzzle-solving. Instead, they focused on making the game like an interactive movie with many player choices that have a direct impact on the game’s narrative. The genre has gone through its trials and tribulations over the last decade, and even Netflix has adapted elements of it for interactive TV shows like Black Mirror: Bandersnatch. Xbox Game Studios and Interior Night’s As Dusks Falls finds itself somewhere between Telltale and Quantic Dream’s formula and an interactive movie.

As Dusk Falls isn’t like any other game in the Xbox exclusive lineup thanks to its motion comic-like presentation, but it’s still interactive with frequent dialogue choices and quick time events. Due to its unique presentation and grounded story, As Dusk Falls stands out as a worthwhile and atypical narrative game, even if it doesn’t feel great to play on a controller.

A night to remember

As Dusk Falls is a grounded, gritty crime drama about two struggling families. It’s split into two three-chapter books: Collision and Expansion. In Collisionyou’ll mainly take control of Vince, a father on a road trip with his family, and Jay, the youngest of the Holt brothers. After the Holts run Vince’s family off the road, they must stay in a motel. But when the Holts steal from the town of Two Rock’s police chief, they end up at the same motel and hold Vince, his family, and others inside as hostages. Vince is written as a down-on-his-luck everyman, so it’s easy to empathize with him as he tries to keep his family safe, and negotiate with the Holts and Two Rock’s crooked sheriff to take them down.

Those who enjoy grounded crime dramas will undoubtedly be enthralled.

Meanwhile, Jay is the youngest of the struggling (and now criminal) Holt family, and he’s not as onboard with their violent and dangerous approach, even if he’s just as culpable for their actions. Jay and Vince’s narratives reflect each other well as people trapped due to factors outside their control. As a result, Collision is the strongest part of As Dusk Fallsas many choices have palpable and, in some cases, life-or-death results. That’s only half the game, though, as (without spoiling much) Expansion focuses on what happens to the Holts, namely Jay, after the hostage situation and also flashes forward to show the PTSD Vince’s daughter Zoe has been left with following this whole debacle.

Expansion isn’t as consistent as Collision because its on-the-run criminal and PTSD storylines are a bit less intimate than the tensely written hostage situation. However, Collision’s strong groundwork kept me excited to see these characters’ journeys throughout. Thankfully, the writing is consistently compelling and entertaining. Quantic Dream’s narrative adventure games, in particular, often suffered due to some problematic characters and awkward dialogue. I didn’t run into moments like in As Dusk Fallsas even the villainous Holts are painted sympathetically.

as dusk falls review: xbox's atypical narrative adventure

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