Release Date: April 26th 2018
Price as of Article: $12.99 USD, £9.99 GBP
Game code provided by Wales Interactive for review
It seems that FMV games are having a bit of a mini resurgence these days. What with the re-release of Night Trap out for PS4 and eventually coming to the Switch, Juan not too long ago reviewed The Bunker and the publisher of that, Wales Interactive, have been quick to bring their second FMV game: Late Shift. This is the newer of the two having only been released a year ago on Steam to mostly positive reception.
In games like these it’s the story that you really want to suck you in and immerse you into the experience. The story of Late Shift begins with the eponymous situation. Matt, a young maths student begins the night watch in a high end car park. On this fateful night Matt is kidnapped by an injured car thief and lead to a hideout. It’s here that he is forced into participating in a heist for a near-priceless Chinese pottery bowl. Not everything is as it seems though and Matt and his accomplice, Mei Ling are taken on a rollercoaster ride of probably the worst night of their lives. It follows deception, gangsters and a whole bucketload of unfortunate events for our unlikely protagonist.
Naturally at a slightly shorter runtime for a movie, the pace for this is full on for the most part. There’s very little just sitting down for a quiet moment. It all takes place over one night and early morning so there’s a lot to fit in.
There’s enough twists and turns to always keep you guessing about just what really is going on and, with seven different endings, there’s enough room for the unexpected. Some endings may be unsatisfactory, or even downright cruel. The game really knows how to hit you hard and this is definitely not one for children. There’s a lot of serious stuff going on here and I like that.
The story is definitely a huge plus and it’s worth experiencing this “game” for that alone. Indeed, my non-gaming wife enjoyed playing along with me and making the decisions that would help shape the story and the fate of our hero.
It’s interesting, thrilling and action packed, it easily had my attention the whole way through. In that regard I can’t give it any higher compliment.
In the audio department you have a rather subdued soundtrack that definitely takes a back seat to avoid interfering with the story. There are often deadly quite moments in Late Shift to focus on the actors and their lines which is fair enough. What music there is adds to the tension of the thriller atmosphere and it would have been nice to hear more of it to be honest.
I can’t really comment much more on that, the voice over dub that appears during the main characters thoughts or when people are supposed to be talking over phones or secret earphones, aren’t the most convincing but it’s a minor point.
Visuals & Performance
Visually, well it’s an interactive movie so of course it looks more life like than most other games ever will. Joking aside, it looks fantastic. Having watched Juan review The Bunker I think I can safely say that Late Shift really ramped up the style. It’s fully HD and it looks glorious. Without wanting to step too much into movie critic territory I think there some good cinematography going on. The lighting looks great and there’s lots of visual flair to give a stylish vibe to this one.
It’s nice on the eyes which is always a plus point when it comes to an interactive movie like this. You’re always entertained by the eyes, there are no flat or bland shots which is very commendable.
The acting is really above what I was expecting going in. This is not an amateur production by any means, there are some really good actors in here. I was really impressed by their overall delivery and performance in Late Shift. I suspect that the main actor, Joe Sowerbutts, should be going on to bigger things if this performance is anything to go by.
I suppose I could mention the menus of the decision making and they are simple enough, they don’t intrude or take you out of the experience which is nice.
Unusually for my review, the gameplay section is certainly going to be much smaller than normal. As Late Shift is an interactive movie, there is actually very little to say in this regard. As the film plays out you have a series of decisions to make where you can influence the direction of the story. It’s not like The Bunker where you have some control or Quick Time Events as such, you just choose which way your want the story to play out. Usually you have two options at the many, many forks in the road, but occasionally there can be three.
It’s a little bit of a facade, or may be that’s being overly harsh. It seems like only a few decisions are truly important to the overall outcome of the game. With 14 chapters available to see, some decisions will effect which ones occur or not, and with almost 200 decisions to make, it’s clear that not all of them truly effect the story. Some will just add an extra line of dialogue or action, but the end result will often be the same. May be disappointing but that’s the reality of creating something like this.
There are seven endings touted and let me tell you, after my first time playing through and getting an absolutely terrible ending, I was determined to do it again. It’s not clear which decisions are the most vital but you can generally get a sense towards the end.
When you do complete it you see some stats, how many chapters you’ve seen, how many of the decisions you have made and how many of the ending you have seen. But again, no indication of where things were truly decided. You have to figure that all out for yourself.
For some, the gameplay just won’t be enough and that’s fine. It’s a valid complaint especially when going into a video game. If you want actual gameplay then you’re going to want to look elsewhere. If you’re in for a more laid back experience and want to soak in a story then the gameplay is fine for what it is.
As for value you do have to look at the length of the game which is almost the same length as a normal movie, about an hour and 15 minutes. That’s really short but considering the price of cinema tickets in the UK though these days it’s actually not that bad of a sell. It’s only £9.99 or $12.99. This is far more interactive, even if it’s a little bit of a facade, but the multiple endings do give you the incentive to play it a few times, even if 7 is maybe more than you’re willing to do. In that regard it may be a tough sell to gamers, but I think movie buffs will feel more comfortable about the price, especially if you go to the cinema a lot and you know the price you have to pay these days. At a tenner, you can’t wrong.
Limited in its scope