As Dusk Falls review: Interactive crime thriller packs a powerful punch

Sam Smith
As Dusk falls

As Dusk Falls is a narrative-driven crime drama that spans three decades but does it deliver the goods? Here’s what we thought after multiple playthroughs.

Narrative-driven games that are more like interactive movies are becoming a big deal at the moment. Supermassive’s horror games are going from strength to strength with The Quarry and the Dark Pictures Anthology, and Quantic Dream continues to put out thought-provoking experiences like Detroit: Become Human. As Dusk Falls is a lot like these games, while also putting its own spin on the genre.

Interior Night, a developer that contains some former Quantic Dream employees makes its debut with As Dusk Falls. The game plays a lot like previous interactive movies, but with a new and distinct art style that really gives As Dusk Falls its own identity.

As Dusk Falls key details

  • Price: £24.99/$29.99
  • Developer: Interior Night
  • Release Date: July 19, 2022
  • Platforms: Xbox Game Pass, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PC

As Dusk Falls Trailer

A playable graphic novel

Rather than being a fully motion-captured experience, such as games like The Quarry or Detroit, As Dusk Falls looks like it fell from the pages of a graphic novel, with every few frames appearing as a singular still before gliding to the next. It gives the impression of pages turning or your eyes moving to the next box in a comic strip. It’s a bit jarring at first, but you’ll soon get used to it, and even learn to appreciate it before long.

Every still is brimming with detail and is beautifully animated, with each getting across everything it needs to when it comes to the situation, the character’s emotions, and potential danger. This is fortunate, as you’re going to need to pay attention if your favorite characters are to survive the story.

And let’s be honest, that’s what these narrative-driven games are all about; the story. As Dusk Falls features two families on a collision course with the fates of many of them up in the air, and in the hands of the player. After their first meeting, the lives of everyone involved become forever intertwined, and As Dusk Falls can be a story about forgiveness and redemption, or one about bloody murder and vengeance. It all depends on the choices that are made.

As Dusk Falls Holt Brothers take hostages
The Holt Brothers are the game’s primary antagonists – or are they?

When two tribes go to war

The first family in this story is the likable Walkers, a loving family who are moving to a new city for a fresh start. There’s tension between them, but ultimately, every member of the Walker family wants to move on and rebuild from mistakes in their past. However, it soon becomes clear that one member of the family may have a connection to Two Rock, the town the events all transpire in, which may or may not become important later.

The second group is the Holts, a rural family with three sons, an abusive alcoholic father, and a lot of debt. While the Holt family has made a lot of bad choices, they aren’t completely unsympathetic. However, their attempts to turn their fortunes around turn deadly after a botched burglary leads to a hostage situation at a motel where the Walkers happen to be staying.

For the first half of the game or ‘Book One’, we take control of Vince Walker, a typical family man who’s desperate to get his wife, daughter, and estranged but terminally ill father out of harm’s way. We also control Jay Holt, the sensitive, kind, and well-meaning member of the three Holt brothers, who wants to save his own family, but also to make sure they don’t hurt the Walkers, themselves, or anyone else.

However, despite both men having the best of intentions, danger lurks everywhere and the hostage situation can end in a sea of corpses, although it’s also possible to get everyone out safely. Choices are everything and every action has a consequence that may not just impact who survives the night, but how their lives play out in Book 2. This is set after the hostage situation – and will involve whoever’s left alive.

walker family as dusk falls
The Walker family simply want a fresh start, but will they get it?

Multiple playthroughs reveal more secrets

We played the game multiple times with each playthrough taking around 5-6 hours. Our first playthrough was blind and we got a custom ending based on our choices. In our second playthrough, with the benefit of hindsight, we made an effort to save everyone but were then shocked by other events that we didn’t see the first time around. In our third playthrough, we simply did the opposite of everything we had done before – and were blown away by some of the revelations the game had hidden from us.

As Dusk Falls is a game that benefits from multiple playthroughs, as you’re only going to see the tip of the iceberg in one, and there’s a whole lot of story and secrets submerged beneath the surface. The game is much deeper than we realized even after playing it through several times, we look forward to seeing what other plot elements different players will unearth.

Jay Holt as Dusk falls
Jay Holt is a decent sort, even if he’s caught up in a robbery.

Sliding doors

While the game’s butterfly effect style works well, there are some cheap moments now and then that we felt undermined our efforts. For example, we worked hard to save one character, passing multiple quick time events, surviving gunfire, and epic encounters with their nemesis, only for one choice to end up being the wrong one, and for that character to die in the most anti-climactic way ever.

This was frustrating, but it’s mainly because at first, it’s easy to keep characters alive, but as Book 1 hurtles towards its dramatic conclusion, shock deaths become much more likely. This should serve as a warning for those choosing to play the game with friends. While the random nature of up to 8-player co-op is fun, it limits the control you have over the narrative, essentially becoming a free-for-all, but it’s worth doing to see where it all ends up.

Book 2 of As Dusk Falls is very different from Book 1, and how it plays out largely depends on what went down at the motel. Yet, no matter what way we approached it, we never found the aftermath as exciting or engaging as the dramatic event itself. So, it will be interesting to see where any possible DLC allows us to take the story.

Zoe As Dusk Falls
A grown-up Zoe Walker can walk the path of forgiveness, or she can seek bloody vengeance.

Verdict: 8.5/10

As Dusk Falls is a stellar first attempt from Interior Night and a must-play for those who enjoy interactive narrative games like The Quarry, Heavy Rain, and Detroit: Become Human. In many ways, the game feels like a playable season of Fargo and even channels other gritty crime dramas like Breaking Bad at times. Essentially, it’s a playable binge drama, but one that can be enjoyed time and time again, with different endings and twists, depending on your choices.

As Dusk Falls will make you hurt, and it will make you cry, but it won’t let you down.

Reviewed on Xbox Series S