As Dusk Falls Review

Richard Walker

Telltale Games has a lot to answer for. Ever since the success of 2012's The Walking Dead and the proliferation of its choice-driven stories, this sort of thing has become immensely popular. Crime thriller As Dusk Falls, developed by Interior/Night, a London-based studio comprising Quantic Dream and Sony veterans, is the latest game to hang big decisions upon its narrative, albeit with prestige TV shows like Breaking Bad in mind as its primary influence. And, happily, it's remarkably compelling. Perhaps not as compelling as Breaking Bad, but compelling nonetheless.

Things don't go all that well for the Holt boys.

The developers’ experience with the likes of Heavy Rain and Beyond: Two Souls comes through in As Dusk Falls' dusty desert-bound tale; a yarn which involves two parties, whose lives collide in the wake of a robbery gone wrong. Opening with family man Vince Walker, as he takes his wife, daughter, and father on a road trip to St. Louis, where their new life awaits, it's not long before you run into the Holt boys (Tyler, Dale, and Jay), a trio of ne'er-do-well brothers, plotting a scheme to pilfer some cash from the local sheriff. Inevitably, shit hits the fan and drama ensues, with you calling the shots as it unravels. From a remote desert road in Two Rock, Arizona, to a nearby motel, things start out innocuously enough, but soon go from bad to worse. And, throughout, Vince's daughter Zoe and thoughtful Holt brother, Jay, serve as the anchor of the story, providing its heart.

Telling its yarn through a combination of painted static characters and detailed three-dimensional environments, As Dusk Falls' art style shouldn't work on paper – and initially it can jar a little – but given time, it proves enormously effective. It helps that Int./Night weaves a series of escalating events with a deft hand, deploying flashbacks to fill in character histories, making it more impactful when something major occurs. Gameplay-wise, As Dusk Falls is a little lightweight, without instances of being able to move around freely - instead you'll execute simplistic inputs involving button taps, mashing, or the occasional directional swipe, whether you're using a controller or a smartphone, via the game's companion app.

Rope in enough people, and you can have up to eight players, using a combination of phones and controllers, all making decisions together. Each player has three 'overrides' they can use to force their choice through, if they so wish; otherwise, you're making your own decisions, then watching as the game randomly selects one of them. As a communal experience, it's good fun, but it can take away from the story when you're all bickering and failing to listen to the dialogue. Assuming you have friends like mine who can't help but argue over every decision – be prepared to tell them to shut up a lot, or hurry their choices up before the timer runs down.

That said, the arguments will soon quieten down as the narrative begins to escalate. To go into plot details would be detrimental to your enjoyment of As Dusk Falls' storyline, but its six episodes, each running at roughly an hour apiece, do a great job of aping an engaging TV show, and the choices grow increasingly weighty as the story unfolds. At the end of each chapter (spread across two 'books'), you're presented with a flow chart of scenes, showing the number of alternative paths and outcomes, which will stoke your curiosity for repeat playthroughs.

Is the Sheriff a good guy?

In my first run through As Dusk Falls, everything went to hell, and a lot of characters died. Had I made just a few more considered choices, maybe I could have saved some of them, and experienced a more upbeat denouement. The game covers plenty of mature themes, too, covering mental health issues, suicide, family conflict, and violence, and it does so with a light touch. It's well written and performed, expertly paced and executed, even if one or two occurrences stretch credibility a tad. You're in control of most actions, but now and again a character will do something stupid, and it's out of your hands.

There are few adventure games like this, in which you're making choices, carrying out actions, and experiencing the storyline mainly as a passenger, where immediately after the credits rolled, I contemplated starting all over again. Whether you choose to play alone or with friends, As Dusk Falls succeeds in being an intense, dusty desert tale featuring interesting characters, meaningful choice and consequence, and even a nice dose of replayability. As Dusk Falls is a memorable journey worth taking - despite the loose-ends conclusion - boasting gripping emotion, conflict, action, and drama.

As Dusk Falls

Normally, with a choice-driven adventure, I'm once and done, ready for a post-game water-cooler discussion. As Dusk Falls' warrants more than one playthrough, if only to see how differently things can pan out. If that open ending is any indication, there's more to come.

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A fitting soundtrack of reverberating guitars and such, perfectly suited to each moment as it unfolds. The voice performances, from the likes of Elias Toufexis (Deus Ex's Adam Jensen) as Vince, and Jane Perry (Hitman's Diana Burnwood) as the harried Holt matriarch, are excellent, too.


The painted characters look great, despite not being fully animated, while the 3D backdrops are nice and detailed. Combined, the painted characters and 3D environments make for a unique style, and it works well.


It might only use a single button and one of the analogue sticks on the controller, or swipes and taps on the smartphone companion app, but the QTEs, though simplistic, still lend weight to your actions. Choices are compelling and meaningful, to boot.


Six episodes, roughly one hour each, make As Dusk Falls feel like a TV series, and a pretty good one at that. Each chapter concluding with a flow chart showcasing the number of possible decisions, shows there's massive scope to replay the story for different outcomes.


You'll need to make certain choices and complete specific events to unlock every achievement, which means multiple playthroughs are required. Completing each chapter makes up the bulk of the list, but there are some decent additional objectives to complete here.

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