In addition to the big triple A and first party games, the latest Summer Game Fest allowed us to take a look at As Dusk Falls. The title is the first game from British developer INT./NIGHT and is now in the pipeline for Xbox and PC consoles. In fact, day one is set for July 19, 2022 and just over a month after its release we had the opportunity to try a build of the game, happy with the first chapter (or book) thanks to the Tribeca Games Festival and yes: we are right away. lovers.
It may sound over the top, but at a time when it doesn’t usually shine for big triple A game releases, As Dusk Falls has all the right features to be able to offer us an experience in line with the genre of narrative adventures and become, in fact, one of those games that can keep you company throughout the summer. This is thanks to a fairly particular graphic style and a writing and engagement technique that can potentially be above other very similar games. Without wasting any more time, let’s go to the discovery of this first contact with the title.
Two families, two stories, one result
As we mentioned at the beginning, INT./NIGHT has made available a demo containing the first act of As Dusk Falls. This is the real beginning of the adventure, when we get to know the two protagonist families whose lives will intertwine in a succession of events with a high cinematic rate. This is evident from the earliest stages of the narrative, which does not follow a logical and precise thread, but guides us to discover the characters and their background. Just like a TV series, there are flashbacks of events that took place a few minutes before and continuous changes of shot and stories. Throughout the 45 minutes of the demo we had the feeling of being in front of an episode of a TV drama and that’s goodconsidering that very often the narrative adventures follow a logical thread, almost purposely sewn around a single story which then expands.
As Dusk Falls begins with the story of a family on the run: the loving father, who takes care of his daughter, his grandfather and his wife, looking for a new life after an episode (still unclear) that led to his dismissal from his job. An accident with a truck and the camera moves quickly towards the second family protagonist of this story: unlike the first, the three brothers are on the road to a theft in order to change their lives, made up of betrayals, reformatory and an existence bordering on crime and with few social opportunities. The two families will meet again, with an unexpected existence that will weave the future of gameplay based on their choices. The story is in fact spread over a span of ten years and everything will be based on the choices made by the various protagonists of the events, but unlike other games, users do not control a single protagonist, but have control over the whole affair, with change of view and perspectives that vary according to the choices made.
As Dusk Falls does everything (surprisingly) well
Unfortunately, we were not allowed to continue with the gameplay. We ended our run with the first book on a cliff hanger, which we will unveil only on July 19, 2022, the day on which As Dusk Falls will be available. The 45 minutes spent together with the game, however, allowed us to become familiar with the gameplay and its atypical game system.
First of all, the movement is completely absent. The characters move almost in stop motion, with fast artworks that tell the scene. Difficult to put into words, but there is hardly ever a time when we can pick up the pad and physically head to a place. This choice, accompanied by an atypical artistic style, pushes us to interact with analog sticks and a single button for selecting interaction. At a precise moment in the demo, we are asked to choose between two rooms: a bedroom and a study. With the analog stick we choose the room and enter. At this point, if there are no particular encounters, it will be possible to choose which element to interact with and subsequently everything will work as in the other exponents of the genre: from the insertion of a safe to a quick quick time event, the choice and fate of the character that we are “controlling” will all depend on us. This obviously adds to the key and determined choices for the adventure, highlighted as the crossroads. The game warns us when it is time to make a fundamental choice for the plot. These crossroads not only affect the gameplay, but they often open the doors to new narrative devices. Choosing to be with one person over another could make us discover something more about the characters and thus enrich our gaming experience.
To carry out such an adventure, no great means are needed. The difference is in the writing style and skill to tell great stories. If As Dusk Falls offers gameplay that seems tailor-made for an interactive drama, the writing is no exception. The writers and writers worked to tell a credible story, even a hard one, and the game design did the rest. You always and constantly feel the idea that a choice can lead to a real negative outcome and therefore to a sudden death. Being able to insinuate the sense of urgency and a cold-blooded decision is not easy in a video game of this type and the credit goes precisely to the narration and plot, as well as the dialogues. Throughout the demo we had a constant sense of positive anxiety and were genuinely pushed towards the most logical decision to make. But this won’t stop us from replaying the scenes and moments, to try and experiment with different decisions. In fact, at the end of each act, As Dusk Falls offers us a flow chart, based on the choices made previously. It will be possible to start over or select a specific scene and make diametrically opposite decisions, if only for the sake of finding out how it will turn out.
The 45 minutes spent in the company of As Dusk Life have certainly convinced us. Despite this, some aspects of the game, such as multiplayer and the actual weight of choices also on the final are aspects that will be analyzed only once we have got our hands on a definitive build of the game. For the moment, the first encounter with the game is certainly positive. The hope is that what we have seen will be able to hold up even for the hours necessary for the conclusion of this adventure.