Elevate Your Storytelling with As Dusk Falls: A Thrilling Interactive Experience

As Dusk Falls: A family travels from Sacramento, California, to St. Louis, Missouri, and the trip is tense for everyone. It’s clear that there’s some underlying tension between the mother and the grandfather, and the child is exhausted.

You sense that some people are reluctant to relocate across the country, but you aren’t sure why. When the small family stops for the night at a roadside motel, they become hostages in an escalating standoff with three brothers who have just robbed a sheriff. I was beginning to enjoy this domestic drama when things got going.

In As Dusk Falls, a branching thriller, you can choose between the antagonists’ and the victims’ points of view. What you say and do, how long you wait to press a button to open a window or grab someone’s gun, and so on, all have consequences, both in the moment and hours later when the story wraps up.

After the tense set-piece of the motel standoff, you can delve back and forth in time to learn more about the characters and grow to care about them. You may find yourself in some genuinely awful predicaments due to the competing goals of the characters you’re portraying.

As Dusk Falls
As Dusk Falls

The Quarry, 2K’s larger-budget narrative summer blockbuster, is a horror game in which tinkering with the protagonists’ lives is fun. Because of the realistic atmosphere, the stress level is higher here.

Even though this is a suspenseful thriller, it deals with issues that are all too real, such as substance abuse, loss, marital strife, and violence. Despite some lulls in the drama, the stakes feel higher than usual.

Paintings over photographs serve as the medium for As Dusk Falls, which is neither fully animated nor completely static. At first, I was thrown off by this art style, but I quickly adjusted. The scenes here feel more natural and believable than those featuring 3D-animated characters moving around in an uncanny valley.

Emotion is conveyed primarily through facial expressions. It’s an intelligent way to offer a wide variety of scenes and outcomes without spending the tens of millions of dollars required to film or fully animate each one. It gives the whole thing the feel of a memory, with specific moments or expressions sticking in mind.

If this were a Netflix series, I would have watched all six episodes with great enthusiasm; however, the interactive nature of a video game makes it hard for me to recommend. Up to eight players can participate in As Dusk Falls at once, locally and remotely, using their smartphones or game consoles to cast votes on the game’s outcomes.

Although this is a clever concept, I found myself preferring to respond naturally and instinctively to the story’s characters during my first playthrough rather than having to vote on every choice. In multiplayer, I found it difficult to get invested in the story when we had to pause for five seconds whenever there was a dialogue option or a fork in the path of events so everyone could vote.

What would happen if you tried to run away? What if you didn’t try to minimize the violence for your daughter’s sake? You can replay a scene to see what else might happen. Mildly intriguing, but there’s so much repetition that it’s not very exciting to sit through the same 80% of the dialogue and scene setting again to find the 20% that’s new, especially since the plot hinges primarily on building tension.

When you know how a scene ends, the tension is gone. In most cases, the route taken will remain the same. To see the full effects of your choices, you’d have to replay the entire game rather than just a few chapters, and it’s clear that many of the game’s early decisions don’t pay off until the final 20.

Holy cow, that’s a lot of monotonous reiteration. Speaking of the conclusion, most of the characters’ arcs are resolved satisfactorily by the end of the game, though one of the stories ended on an unsatisfying cliffhanger for me, teasing me with the promise of a third and final act that was never delivered.

Compared to other works, As Dusk Falls easily stands head and shoulders above the competition thanks to its superior plotting, characterization, acting, and impressive adaptability.

The story is ultimately about overcoming trauma; the character of reluctant teen criminal Jay Holt stuck with me because he remains adorably naive despite everything he has been through.

Now that games aren’t judged solely on their visual fidelity, narrative games have more creative freedom to tell engaging stories.

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