Late Shift (PC) Review

By Ofisil 18.04.2017 3

Review for Late Shift on PC

While frowned upon by the more "purist" side of the gaming world, Telltale Games has come to stay. Sure, its creations are basically movies, not video games, with the only interaction being the ability to make some choices that can lead the storyline to different paths… as well as the occasional QTEs to spice things up. Well, it seems like the famous developer has found competition, and a pretty strong one, to be honest. Directed by Tobias Weber, and scripted by the writer of the 2009 Sherlock Holmes film, CtrlMovie's Late Shift offers an intense FMV crime thriller, where a small fry is unintentionally dragged into the world of some very big cheeses. Do you have what it takes to make the right choices?

Those who were there at the age of the infancy of FMV-themed games probably expect this to be corny and badly made. Thankfully, that's not the case. Tobias Weber is no Stanley Kubrick, and actors like newcomer Joe Sowerbutts and veterans like Richard Durden are no Al Pacino or Anthony Hopkins (or Tommy Wiseau), so don't expect a cinematic masterpiece that will keep you up at night… but it's very good, nonetheless - damn good, in fact, and, without a single doubt, far better than high budget titles like all-spark-no-flare Quantum Break.

Moving on, the whole thing begins, and the audience is introduced to Matt, the main character, the monologue of who starts off this crime thriller. He contemplates on the nature of the world, how it's a ruthless, sinister competition, and, most of all, how it all boils down to choices, how they define you, and how these can change the "path," just like in Late Shift, as this is just a movie, with a few crossroads where the player can choose the next step.

Screenshot for Late Shift on PC

Besides being devoid of any self-importance and pretentiousness, this introductory monologue also sets the tone for the ride, as the majority of it all feels very realistic, and especially the behaviour of the main lead. Joe Sowerbutts portrays college student/security guard Matt in the best way possible, by not overplaying or underplaying the role, and comes off as just an average young man who unintentionally gets entangled in a world of crime. Even his unique "thing," which is his talent with numbers, is not overused as it's usually done in cinema. He is smart, yes, but not the obnoxious-Tony-Stark kind of super-smart.

The most important thing, though, is that he is not a man that you hate or love. Instead, his role here is to help players get immersed in the situation, and act as if they were him. Moreover, and while he is definitely a blank state sort of character, thankfully, he is not a bland one. As for the choices at hand, apart from a very few, as time goes on they tend to get deeper into the realm of the moral grey, so it's not another silly case of good versus evil, but something that's more about how fear (or greed) can change a man.

Screenshot for Late Shift on PC

As for the story itself, it's not exactly an innovative Scandinavian-like crime thriller or anything, so don't get your hopes up for any major twists, or clever Hitchcock-esque whodunit-isms, without that meaning that it's boring, predictable, and so on, although a little bit of originality would be more than welcome. Furthermore, the production values are more than enough, and the very few silly or watered-down scenes available never manage to ruin the mood… apart from the somewhat forced romance "route," that is.

As far as length goes, it clocks around 90 minutes, which feels neither long or short, with the only two problems being: first, the occasional crush-to-desktop, which means that you must sit through the same 10+ minute scene, as the game's save system is not as effective, and, secondly, the fact that skipping scenes is not possible, something that lowers the replay value a bit, especially if you take the biggest flaw of Late Shift into consideration, which is the disappointing fact that choices feel as if they don't matter.

Screenshot for Late Shift on PC

This title's major weakness becomes obvious even from the second sit-through, as, no matter what the player does, things won't change much. Escaped the thug at the beginning? Take a look at one minute of "additional" footage that shows Matt finding another one waiting outside. Chose to go downstairs instead of upstairs to escape from a threat? Doesn't matter; the bad guys will get you no matter what.

These small choices makes things boring, but it's the big ones that hurt the most, because they don't help Matt get enough out of track, and, as a result, lead to different story arcs. It's possible to lose a scene or two near the end, but, to be honest, each time a player restarts Late Shift, most of it will feel extremely similar, which is definitely a shame, as this is generally a fine, well-crafted ride, which could be even more so with a little more care.

Screenshot for Late Shift on PC

Cubed3 Rating

6/10
Rated 6 out of 10

Good

For fans of the interactive movie genre, Late Shift is, without a single doubt, a product worthy of its price tag. Those grown tired of the usual flaws of this flavour of games, however, beware, as these make their appearance here too, with choices rarely changing things as much as they should.

Developer

CtrlMovie

Publisher

Wales Interactive

Genre

Adventure

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  6/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date None   Australian release date Out now   

Comments

This is the second experimental one from Wales Int recently, after the awfully boring The Bunker. Both are examples of how not to make an FMV-led game. The developer should look at how well the Tex Murphy games work for a better idea of what to do...

Adam Riley [ Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited ]
Word of Adam | Voice123 Profile | AdamC3 on Twitter

I dunno how much involvement Wales Int had in it really. Seems to be developed by a studio called CtrlMovie.

Yeah, same with Bunker - WI is just acting as publisher, I believe. Just seems a shame it's picking relative duds after having a much healthier line-up in the past.

Adam Riley [ Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited ]
Word of Adam | Voice123 Profile | AdamC3 on Twitter

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