The interactive fiction genre has seen a renaissance in recent years, as the era of FMV is reborn on modern systems, with high production values and talented actors helping to bring the stories to life. The next game allowing players to choose their own adventure is As dusk fallswhich begins with a boring family trip that quickly turns into a deadly hostage situation. Screen Rant previewed the Xbox Series X version of As dusk fallswhich presents the first two chapters of the game.
As dusk falls follows members of two different families. The game begins in 1998, as the Walker family moves to Missouri, which involves a long drive through the desert. The boredom of the family move is quickly replaced by tension, as the perspective shifts to the three Holt brothers, who plan to rob a local sheriff’s house, in order to pay off their father’s debts. The Walker family ends up damaging their car and have to rest at the Desert Dream Hotel while waiting for help. The two storylines converge when the robbery goes awry and the Holt brothers take refuge in the hotel and use the staff members and the Walker family as hostages. The hotel is soon surrounded by police and a standoff begins, where actions can have life or death consequences.
The game in As dusk falls combines visual novel storytelling with puzzles and environmental research. The player usually has a few seconds to make a decision before the game randomly chooses it for them. These decisions include responses in the conversation and whether to take certain actions. There are also a few minor QTEs, but these are pretty easy to complete, as they mostly involve sliding/twisting the joystick or pressing a button. Not all choices in As dusk falls have consequences, as some will loop until the player manages to complete a QTE. As dusk falls moves from scene to scene, so the player never gets a chance to hang around and explore environments, or have quiet conversations with NPCs, because everything is programmed.
The visuals in As dusk falls combine 3D environments with still images of real actors, which have been recolored to make them look like something out of a comic book. The developers of As dusk falls the actors actually acted out all the scenes, although the player only sees stills of the key actions. The two visual styles work well together and give the game a unique feel, expressing the urgency and desperation of all the characters involved.
The As dusk falls the preview puts the player in control of two characters: Vince Walker, the sweet family man, who is forced to step in and try to keep the hostage situation under control; and Jay Holt, the even sweeter younger brother of the Holt siblings, who is torn between doing the right thing and trying to keep his family out of jail. The player can influence their personality with their choices, with each chapter’s end screen identifying the traits the player has used throughout their run. There’s also plenty of room to have fun and let characters fail or make bad decisions, as long as the player doesn’t worry about living with the consequences. As dusk falls also has multiplayer options, with full game planning including Twitch viewer integration, which will make races particularly chaotic.
As dusk falls starts slow, with the player put in the front seat of the boring National Lampoon’s Holiday style arguments between family members, but the flight scene and the various conflicts that occur while exploring the house put the game into overdrive, and it becomes exciting for the rest of its run. Flashbacks to Vince’s conflict with his former employers and his arguments with his wife before the move act as much-needed palette cleansers throughout the hostage scenes, as they give the player a chance to breathe and add more. depth and context to the story. Once the player completes a chapter, they will be presented with a list of possible routes they can take, prompting them to go back and navigate the other routes, and see how the story unfolds.
The As dusk falls preview does a great job of setting the stage for things to come. The player finds himself in the middle of the hostage situation, with unanswered questions about the Sheriff’s shady business and whether all of the characters can get out of the hotel alive. It’s unclear how many of the player’s choices will have a long-lasting effect on the story, but the instant beats grab attention, and it’ll be thrilling to learn how the final story of As dusk falls plays.
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As dusk falls will be released on PC, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X/S on July 19, 2022. Screen Rant received a digital code for the Xbox Series X/S version of the game for the purposes of this preview and it was played on Xbox Series X.
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