As Dusk Falls is an interactive drama from developer Interior Night. The prominent use of choose-your-own-adventure dialogue and decision mechanics are similar to those found in Telltale and Quantic Dreams games, but with any sort of direct character movement stripped away. While I appreciated the lack of fail states and how my decisions seemed to actually impact the events of the story, the whole thing is greatly hampered by weak writing, uneven performances, and its strange aesthetics.
As Dusk Falls tells a decades-spanning story centered around a handful of families whose fates are intertwined during a robbery gone awry. Set primarily in the American Southwest, the story does a good job of hopping around between perspectives at a consistent click, shedding new light on characters and their motivations by swapping the point of view. That said, there are a few character diversions that pull away from the more compelling events and force us to spend time with less interesting players without any real payoff.
In the lead-up to release, the game’s drama was compared to dark and twisting crime stories like Breaking Bad and Fargo, which is honestly a bit silly to me. As Dusk Falls never comes close to reaching the tension, emotional weight, and narrative machinations of those modern masterpieces. The characters just don’t have the kind of depth needed for that caliber of storytelling – without fail, I was able to peg the kind of person each character was during their very first scene. There are a few interesting mysteries sprinkled along the way, but the reveals lacked a rewarding payoff, and the most intriguing thread seemed to be left dangling until a possible sequel or second season.
As Dusk Falls consists of six chapters, each of which took me about an hour to finish. At the end of each section, you’re given various accolades depending on your choices – maybe you always made the right decisions to keep your family safe, or perhaps you nailed every one of the simple quick-time events. But the part of these post-chapter cooldowns that I appreciated most were the flowcharts that showed each branching decision point and what percentage of people chose the same as you. In a manner similar to visual novels like 999 and Zero Escape: Virtue’s Last Rewards, it’s a smart way of not only visualizing the flow of the story, but also allowing you to easily hop back to specific junctures and see how things would play out if you chose differently.
As Dusk Falls is presented in a unique visual style a bit reminiscent of rotoscoped films like Waking Life and A Scanner Darkly, but with character movements displayed in a kind of slideshow. I can’t say I’m particularly a fan of it now that I’ve finished the game, but I got used to it after a bit and it didn’t impede the story as much as I feared it would.
Visuals aside, I do appreciate how accommodating As Dusk Falls is to folks who might not be as well-versed in video games as most of us are. Between a wealth of accessibility options and a neat online and offline multiplayer mode that allows up to eight players to log in on their phones, vote on each decision, and even use a set number of personal vetos and overrides, I could see this being a fun way to experience an interactive story with some pals a la Until Dawn and The Quarry.
As Dusk Falls has the bones of a really great interactive narrative, especially when it comes to being able to review your web of decisions. Sadly, the bland writing, uninspired performances, and lack of any meaningful payoff keep it from reaching the heights of the classics it was inspired by. As Dusk Falls is available for $29.99 on PC, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X | S and is available via Game Pass.
Watch the Review in 3 Minutes for As Dusk Falls.