Merriam-Webster defines the world video game as an electronic game played using images on a video screen and often emphasizing fast action. So by that means we then have to look at the definition of the word game to determine if something is or isn’t a video game. The problem here is that game has several definitions and leaves it up to interpretation as to what falls within the many definitions.
To me, a game is something that you interact with, control if you will. Late Shift, however, is not something you are in control of, you only make decisions as to what to do or say next. Many of these decisions lead to the same outcome which leaves you wondering what the point of having an option was. Leaving you feeling as if you’re in less control than you might have thought. Now mind you, I am in no way putting the story down, it’s rather good. It’s even more impressive when you realize how many different parts of the story line the writers wrote. It will make you ask some questions. Did you actually have autonomy to make your choices?
Here’s what I liked:
The Story — Without a doubt, the story is very well written and was worth the multiple playthroughs it took to see all the decisions and endings. The story has multiple points where it branches off into two different directions, each one offering different choices, scenes, and outcomes. I would have to say I was also astonished by how many twists each branch of the story was able to hold.
Acting — The main two actors are rather good and have a pretty good on-screen chemistry. Even when the acting becomes a bit cheesy in a few places, it still feels good. Maybe that guy would just be cheesy like that. I enjoyed everyone’s character and how well they all work together and play off each others energy.
Here’s what I didn’t like:
The Decisions — Each choice is times, and I’m not sure if that is to keep the flow of the game going or to apply pressure to you, so you feel anxious making these decisions. This time limit is very annoying and kills some of the fun. Several times I was considering either my first decision or what decision I had made so I could see a new scene and it auto-picked one for me. I assumed they took the time to make all these scenes so I could watch them, yet they make it a pain in the butt to make all the choices.
Choppy Cuts — Each decision leads to a different scene or at least a different version of a scene. Sadly though, many of these are ugly jump-cuts, or it has to play at high speed to resync. The whole point of this game is to make decisions and see the outcomes, so the cuts should be clean and exact. Instead, they are jarring and yank you out of the moment many times throughout the storyline.
In the end, Late Shift has me torn. On the one hand, it was an enjoyable pick your adventure “movie,” but it didn’t feel much like a game. The parts that were game-like had a very QTE feel to them and brought me out of the experience many times because I didn’t make my decision fast enough. Late Shift is an enjoyable story and was good enough that I didn’t mind playing it through several times, even with the ‘issues’ I had with it. If you’re in the mood for a decent story and don’t mind working for it, then give Late Shift a try. It is definitely an enjoyable experience.
Score: Readers Choice
Late Shift was developed by CtrlMovie and published by Wales Interactive. Released on April 17, 2017, it can be purchased here for $12.49. A copy of this game was provided for review purposes.