03rd May2018

‘Late Shift’ Review (Nintendo Switch)

by Britt Roberts

LateShift_Screenshot_Gameplay_02

Wales Interactive have continued their explorations into the FMV (erroneous, I know) genre with this, their newest title and whilst these games will always have their detractors due to the level of interaction / game length, it’s difficult to find fault with Late Shift as it’s such a stylish, well-acted and directed crime thriller that holds up well to repeated plays.

The game starts off with the main character, Matt (portrayed by Joe Sowerbutts who I felt had a touch of Michael Wincott about him, good) a university student who moonlights as a security guard in an underground private car park talking about the importance of even seemingly minor decisions in life. The high production values are instantly clear to see with swooping aerial shots of London at night and expensive vehicles galore, there’s not an Austin Montego in sight.

What starts as a typical sleepy late shift for Matt quickly morphs into him being dragged into a heist against his will, leaving the rest of his decisions for the night entirely up to the player, will you play along? double cross the gang? Try and escape? It’s completely up to you.

Each play through of Late Shift is around 60-70 minutes in length and take you through quite a few locations, split into fourteen separate chapters that can’t all be visited in one sitting, adding to the replayability. I found the length of the game to be quite fitting as the pace is pretty relentless and moves along at breakneck speed, the story moves along relatively gracefully, however and is quite tightly edited without feeling choppy and forced.

Following on from the previous Wales Interactive title, The BunkerLate Shift takes the genre in a more streamlined direction with The Bunker working as a point and click game with occasional micro games and Late Shift being a straightforward interactive movie. For me, the removal of micro games and point and click aspects allowed me to focus more on the narrative and choices, which worked as there are no repeated clips or re-treading to break the flow of the story. Each decision can have unseen impacts and Sowerbutts’ acting holds the game together, giving a sense of unity throughout each scene. In this sense, there isn’t really a weak link in the cast and I found myself involved in what was happening, forgetting that I had to make choices at some points.

The controls for the game are incredibly simple, left and right highlights a choice (mostly there are two choices but occasionally there’s a third) and ‘A’ selects. The Switch controls are the perfect combination for this game as I could sit completely comfortably, holding each joy con separately and lazily. The issue I have had in the past with similar games is that quick time events (QTE) are constant and removed my emotional involvement in what was happening on screen because I was constantly tense (for the wrong reasons) and waiting to press buttons. The choices in Late Shift however, whilst giving you only a few seconds to make your decisions, are spaced out enough that you aren’t constantly on edge waiting to spring into action and yet everything you do is quite impactful. Plus there are no QTEs at all. Good.

I played the game with my partner and we passed the controller back and forth with each scene, allowing the other person to take control of the story and take it in their own direction, adding to the tension and, ‘oooooh…I wouldn’t have done that’ factor (both of our play throughs resulted in negative endings, so I’ll definitely be playing this a third time!). There are over one hundred and fifty decisions to be made in the game, giving scope for very different run throughs on your next play. Admittedly, if you purposefully try and make Matt’s life as awkward as possible, completely altering his personality with each choice, the flow of his character arc will be affected but again, it’s up to the player what character type Matt has anyway.

To summarise, Late Shift is a great game to play, especially with two or more people and holds up to repeated play throughs. As mentioned, beyond making choices, there really is no other game play involved and this may put people off, but it also makes the game extremely accessible. The high production quality, acting, moody, pulsing music and narrative twists and turns make Late Shift a great, if brief ride that I believe will make people want to play again to see the direction that the game will take with just a few different options. I played the game through twice in one sitting and I fully intend to try it again soon, something that can’t be said of many interactive movies.

Right, I’m off to buy a Rover 800.

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