Parents' Guide to

As Dusk Falls

By Joey Thurmond, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 16+

Interactive story has rich characters, mature content.

The cover art for As Dusk Falls, featuring three of the main playable characters: Zoe, Jay, and Vince.

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What you will—and won't—find in this game.

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This story starts out as a simple family trip to introduce players to its simple mechanics, but it quickly brings players into a complex tale. What you'll be doing most in As Dusk Falls is selecting between options for dialogue and actions -- choices that influence your relationships with characters and the fates of others. Some decisions are clearly marked as "Crossroads" that deeply impact the narrative, but even little things can influence events in surprising ways. There are also scenes where players investigate rooms by moving a cursor around to find clues, hide evidence, and so on. Other than these, quick-time events (QTEs) occur frequently with button taps and analog stick rotations. By default, they are easy to succeed with in contrast to most games with QTEs, but time limits can be extended or eliminated for players who want less pressure when weighing options. This is suitable for the great co-op feature (absent in most interactive story games), where players vote by majority rule to determine what happens, but each player has a handful of special "overrides" that can bring about exciting upsets. Up to four players can join in locally with controllers, up to eight when playing with an app via smartphones. Online play is an option as well.

The presentation holds the game back a bit. It's animated in a storyboard format with photos of actors drawn over in a loose, painterly style. There are some animated 3D objects implemented into scenes, but they clash with the 2D stills with visual oddities. Unfortunately, the action and cast's solid performances don't land as powerfully as they could have with full animation. As Dusk Falls doesn't make its case through gameplay or graphics, but primarily through story. Characters have rich backstories and emotional complexity that intersect and evolve in ways that will pull you in. The pacing of who you play as and when can feel uneven, and some characters are underutilized or unnecessary. Nevertheless, the overarching story is so impressive in scope and how it comes together that⁠⁠ -- when you're shown all the potential paths you could have taken at the end of each chapter -- you'll be tempted to go for another playthrough.

Game Details

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