A few years ago, Microsoft presented the interactive drama “Twilight Falls” to the world. The game’s emotional trailer, intense soundtrack, and unique art style all helped it stand out in an increasingly crowded space of similar games, from Supermassive’s games, the Life is Strange series, and various projects from Telltale. Unfortunately, As Dusk Falls fails to live up to the high standards set by other games in its genre, and it’s likely to frustrate players more than any other game when the credits roll.
Twilight Falls is split into two distinct “books,” the first about a hostage-taking incident at a roadside motel in Arizona, and the second about the aftermath of that incident. In Book 1, As Dusk Falls introduced players to the main characters, who themselves split into two distinct factions. The Holt family in trouble, with the player as the youngest brother Jay, and then the Walker family, represented by the player character Vince.
The game starts with Jay and his brothers Dale and Tyler screwing up a robbery so they hide from the police at the Desert Dream Motel. The Walkers and motel employees are held hostage, but what happens next depends on the player’s choices. As Jay and Vince, players make choices that define the story, determining the fate of the characters and the ultimate outcome of the entire ordeal. Other characters are playable in later chapters, but the first half of the game focuses entirely on Jay and Vince.
Because Twilight Falls feels like an interactive TV series, with a tight script (except for the game ending requiring a fairly large leap in logic) and impressive voice acting, which goes a long way toward bringing the story to life. Despite trouble starting in Chapter 1 Chapter 3, it’s full of twists and turns that keep players on the edge of their seats. It’s at this point that pacing becomes such a big issue as Dusk falls, and it’s a problem that runs through the rest of the experience.
Chapter 3 of As Dusk Falls Book 1 is slow-paced for a few different reasons. One such issue is the trigger warnings that the game displays before episodes to let players know of specific events that might occur. This leaves the player waiting for the event to happen for the duration of the chapter, and ruins its potential emotional impact. Including a trigger warning is never a bad thing, but its placement is an issue, as it can break when an event is about to happen. Best placed at the beginning of book 1 so the player doesn’t know which chapter it’s going to happen in. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 does something similar to the infamous No Russian mission, letting players know something terrible is going to happen and giving them the option to skip it without giving so many details that it almost Be a spoiler.
Another problem is that Chapter 1 Chapter 3 keeps pulling the player away from the motel action to show flashbacks. These flashbacks interrupt the flow of the story and take the tension out of the motel scene. They’re also far less interesting than what happens in the motel, so it makes for a frustrating viewing experience.
Because Dusk Falls never really worked out its pacing issues after Chapter 1-3, subsequent chapters failed to capture the magic of the first two chapters of Chapter 1. There’s a particularly head-scratching flashback story in Chapter 2 that actually makes no sense depending on choices the player makes, so it serves as filler to fill out the runtime. The Twilight Saga would be better served by trimming some of those scenes and keeping things more focused on the motel.
As Dusk Falls Book 2 is not as interesting as the events in Book 1. It shows what happens to the characters after the motel incident, but it feels unnecessary. The ending of the motel hostage incident is the climax of the story, and everything that follows is a long falling action that leads everyone to a rather unsatisfactory ending. While the main story ends, the game still ends on an abrupt cliffhanger, probably to set up book 3, but the result is likely to be frustrating for those who invested 6 hours into the story. Had the player made different choices, there might have been answers to this gripping question, but we couldn’t find any while playing the game.
After players complete any chapter of As Dusk Falls, they are presented with a flowchart illustrating how their choices change the course of the story. While many games like this place an emphasis on choice, As Dusk Falls deserves credit for ensuring that the player’s decisions have a huge impact on how each scene plays out. Those curious to see how the story would have been different if they had made other choices can easily jump back into the timeline and start with a specific scene without ruining the “classic” choices they made in the main game. is a very welcome feature.
The story of Manipulating As Dusk Falls is the main way players engage with it as the actual “game”. It’s otherwise pretty low on interactivity, even for a game of its class. In a few cases, players can click to search for rooms, but for the most part, the As Dusk Falls experience boils down to looking at a scene, making dialogue choices, and sometimes pressing a button or spinning a joystick to complete a very simple QTE sequence.
In addition to using a controller to play As Dusk Falls, there’s a companion app that lets players join the game in a different way than the Jackbox Party Pack games. Up to 8 players can play As Dusk Falls, vote on choices and dialogue options, and complete QTEs together, and while the feature is appreciated, the game isn’t playable as a party game. Due to Dusk Falls’ slow-burn plot and serious themes it doesn’t fit into a party game setting like Supermassive’s horror game does with their “Movie Night” collaboration feature.
It might also be difficult to convince friends to play As Dusk Falls multiplayer due to its art style. The game looks like a graphic novel, with little animations here and there to liven things up. Some will find As Dusk Falls’ unique art style charming, but others may think it looks “cheap” compared to other games in the genre.
Since Dusk Falls got off to a good start, players will find the game’s first two chapters hard to put down, like a binge-worthy TV show worth bingeing. Unfortunately, its pacing issues became apparent at the end of Book 1, and it never recovered in Book 2. Those who want to check it out for themselves should note that As Dusk Falls is an Xbox Game Pass game for one day, so anyone still curious can try it out without making a financial commitment beyond what they’ve already paid for the subscription.
As Dusk Falls launches on July 19 for PC, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X. Game Rant obtained the Xbox Series X code for this review.