Like a choral film, As Dusk Falls revolves around the crossed fates of many characters. These can essentially be grouped into two different families. On the one hand, that of the Walkers, consisting of the couple Vince and Michelle, their young daughter Zoe and grandfather Jim. On the other hand, the Holt clan, consisting of father Bear, mother Sharon and the three grown children Dale, Tyler and Jay. Other protagonists also enrich the cast, be it Sheriff Dante Romero, Paul and Joyce the motel owners, high school student Vanessa or FBI Special Agent Bradley. The scenario, which we are told through various flashbacks and travels between different eras (particularly the years 1998 and 2012), revolves around a founding event: the Holts’ robbery of the motel where the Walkers are temporarily staying. Located on the mythical Route 66, this unfortunate meeting point is an ideal setting to create a great road movie atmosphere, which is later confirmed by several wonders. Even if the course of events does not shy away from certain clichés, the impression that you are standing in front of a film or a series in the US is still pleasant. This point is reinforced by the presence of an adequate pop-rock-folk soundtrack and convincing French dubbing, of course performed by professional actors. And as the warning message prior to the adventure’s initial launch proclaims, expect “scenes of intense violence, family conflict, mental health issues, suicide.” This very last point is even awkwardly remembered for the third chapter, as the game informs us of an upcoming suicide scene and offers us to skip it. Problem: The conclusion of the chapter in question is visible for miles. The self-revealing adventure is a concept…
THE FIRST GAME TO RUN VOLUNTARILY WITH 1 FPS
Before approaching the “gameplay” that supports the adventure, it is impossible not to dwell on the technical choices and the artistic direction maintained by the developers. Rather than offering classic graphics or filmed sequences, As Dusk Falls expresses its point through photos of real actors who have gone through a light cartoon filter and are (sometimes very accurate, sometimes approximate) on barely detailed 3D sets. posted. To simulate movement, certain images of the same character follow each other through a small crossfade. Quite disturbing, and even downright unpleasant before you get used to it, this effect amounts to displaying “animations” at a rate of one frame per second. It’s a style that has been perfectly adopted by the studio, and has also helped to make the game stand out during its initial public presentation, but it’s hard not to have a frugality of resources as well. No complicated modelling, no animators to hire, no lip-syncing to manage… In addition, the slightly faded colors and the faces frozen in sometimes caricatured expressions are inevitably reminiscent of the photo novels of the last century. And anyone who knows that era knows that’s hardly a compliment…
This rather kitschy graphical treatment even makes certain situations end up making us think more of Young and the Restless than Fargo or Thelma and Louise. Of course, our opinion on this is completely subjective, and there’s no doubt that this particular aesthetic will have its fans and defenders as well. Likewise, interactivity that is kept to a minimum can also disappoint some and please others. For example, unlike most other games of the genre, the characters here are never directed. Scenes automatically appear one after the other, there is no inventory to manage and no puzzles to solve. The only legacy of classic adventure games comes from a few very rare stages where we are asked to click on two or three interactive zones in a static shot. As for the essential QTEs associated with the narrative genre (hammering a key, choosing a direction, long-pressing a button, etc.), they’re always extremely easy, if not completely impossible, to miss here for anyone familiar with controller.
CHOICES, CONSEQUENCES AND NO CONCLUSION
If the picture we’ve painted so far seems pretty bleak to you, rest assured: the game makes up for all its clumsiness thanks to its non-linear story system. All this aspect is particularly successful, at the peak of the best representatives of the genre. For example, false choices are totally absent (or rather smart enough to be undetectable), while the game clearly separates the various decisions to be made. The minor ones need to be completed in a limited amount of time and generally provide us with three or four choices, while the most impactful are indicated by a “Fork – Think carefully” message, and devoid of a stopwatch so that the player can calmly monitor the front. and disadvantages. The most exciting comes from the adventure’s ability to deliver on its promise of consequences. The branches are many, varied and lead to situations that are really different from each other. It is also very easy to check the richness of the system as the developers give us access to the tree of story branches at the end of each chapter. This menu allows you to resume the adventure from certain specific points to discover the other possible outcomes.
We are even given the choice between freely and temporarily exploring a new path, overwriting the current backup or generating a new backup. This is perfect to test the different possibilities and thus realize the mammoth work of the screenwriters. Divided into six chapters themselves grouped into two books (Book I: Collision, Book II: Expansion), the game offers us an initial lifespan of about six hours. But players curious about the different situations and endings will be able to spend many hours. Note that it is possible, and even recommended, to play several thanks to a voting option. Up to eight players can thus democratically confront their opinions and even “fight” thanks to a limited number vetoso that everyone can impose their choice from time to time. To facilitate group sessions and access to the general public, the game has the good idea of offering a mobile application that allows you to use your smartphone as a controller. However, let’s end with some additional grumbling: a few minor bugs related to audio and subtitles are present (short sentences, lyrics not showing in rhythm), while the “ultimate” ending (which comes after the endings that fate of the various characters) seemed rather frustrating to us. Based on a reveal that opens the door to a lot of questions, it seems awkward to announce a DLC or a sequel, as if a Book III was planned from the start and eventually left out.