Interior Night's As Dusk Falls is finally hitting the Xbox Game Pass library this week, after quite a long development cycle. It's all narrative here in this interactive crime thriller, focused on two misfit families in small-town Arizona.
Ahead of tomorrow's worldwide launch, a number of outlets have gone hands on with As Dusk Falls for review (including us!). Here's what the critics are saying so far:
Pure Xbox (9/10)
As a premise it's not entirely unique; we've watched and played through plenty of crime dramas before. However, the cast — and each of their performances — elevates As Dusk Falls to one of the best video game stories we've played through in recent years, and one that felt engaging right to the end. Although the game's stop motion, visual novel-esque presentation may put some off, it doesn't hurt the game or its story delivery one bit.
As Dusk Falls is a masterwork of branching storytelling that makes the best out of its comic book-style animations, which end up giving you the opportunity to fill the negative space with your imagination – and this works surprisingly well during some of the more intense scenes.
Rather, it ends up telling a story that brilliantly grapples with a lot of under-explored, or even unexplored, themes in video games. Like a lot of my favorite games, it left me with a lot to think about, such as the roles we choose or reject, the hardships we inescapably inherit from family, and how trauma casts a dauntingly long shadow, but how forgiveness, should we choose to show it, may just let the light in.
Terrific TV-style pacing also helps elevate As Dusk Falls' storytelling. Each of the six chapters is about an hour long, and structured like an episode of television, with its own subplots and cliffhangers that tie into the larger overall plot, stringing you along with that 'just one more episode' feeling.
Don't be put off by the unusual art style: As Dusk Falls is good. I'd even go as far as to say it's the best interactive movie game I've played, and in that breath I'm considering all of Supermassive's output (the Dark Pictures games, etc.), Flavourworks' Erica, Quantic Dream's stuff (there's a Quantic Dream link here by the way). And OK granted, this is not a massive sub-genre, but clearly more studios are getting involved and, as far as I'm concerned, that's a very good thing.
Windows Central (4/5)
Much like its central cast at the end of the story, not everything in As Dusk Falls ends up being a winner. But like its cast, there are more secrets buried inside than you'd ever guess at first glance — good, bad, and everything possibly in-between — and that means it's well worth the experience.
As Dusk Falls is the non-game narrative adventure for your non-gaming family and housemates. It’s the most engaged I’ve ever seen my lapsed casual gamer partner in a videogame and that’s because it has the familiar story pacing of a six-part TV series and almost no gameplay, which means minimal barrier to entry. That makes it a perfect addition to Game Pass, as something for the subscribers in the house who don’t want to learn how to play something. While the storytelling has some shortcomings, it’s a fun story in episodic chunks that rivals your video streaming service of choice for a nightly episode.
Digital Trends (3.5/5)
Even if As Dusk Falls doesn’t feel great to play on a controller, it’s a compelling crime drama narrative that remains exciting even as the scenario ramps up and becomes increasingly outlandish. If you like crime dramas or narrative-driven games, it’s worth checking this out on Xbox Game Pass at the very least.
As Dusk Falls is an often engaging story that’s let down by its mechanics and, in some cases, its art style. This exact same story told in a traditional graphical style may not have been as visually unique, but we feel it would have held the action together more successfully, and ratcheted up the tension, which as it stands is very weak.
Aside from the odd outlier, this one has gone down very well then! We loved our time with it here at Pure Xbox HQ, and its current Metacritic score of 77 is pretty respectable all told. Another great narrative-driven addition to Xbox Game Pass, we'll take those all day!
Will you be digging into As Dusk Falls? Let us know down below!