Late Shift (Xbox One) Review

By Nikola Suprak 07.01.2019 1

Review for Late Shift on Xbox One

Before video games really got a hang on graphics and making human characters actually look like humans, titles featuring FMV videos had a brief moment in the spotlight. These tended to mostly be adventures, and played out a bit like an interactive movie with some occasional puzzles thrown in. Late Shift (also reviewed on PC, PS4, and Switch) is a throwback to that style of game, integrating full motion video into a story about a theft gone wrong. It should be obvious just from this description that Late Shift isn't a game with much gameplay and is essentially a create-your-own-adventure with fully acted cut-scenes. Unfortunately, while this is all about story, it doesn't tell a very good one, leaving it as little more than a novelty.

Late Shift tells the story of Matt, a parking attendant that works nights in some ritzy high-end location. After an uneventful start to his night, he soon gets kidnapped and is forced to take part in the theft of a multimillion dollar artefact - uh, wait a second. That can't be right. Maybe this should be double-checked here and… Nope. No, that is actually what happens in the game. Right, so Matt gets forced into this burglary and obviously things don't go well. He soon makes enemies with a violent gang and must find a way to return their artefact before they decide to kill him and his "friends." Basically a normal Tuesday in the dangerous world of valet parking.

If this sounds nonsensical, that's because it is. The events of this game are so convoluted and, at times, are just plain weird. It's like the writer just overheard certain words and wanted to somehow use them somewhere. Two different characters can explain thermoluminescence to you by reading part of its entry off of a Wikipedia page, and somehow this clues a character into how you could age porcelain by getting it in a car crash. This makes less than zero sense, and the revelations here are so bizarre that the plot just sort of falls apart. There are multiple instances like this, where Late Shift just sort of throws these connections out there to push the story along, even when the logic for it isn't there. The basic plot is just as bad - an unfortunate mix of boredom and nonsense - and even though this is not even two hours long, it won't be able to hold people's attention for even that length of time.

Screenshot for Late Shift on Xbox One

Anything remotely decent or interesting is immediately undermined by the fact that the acting is terrible. It feels like a student film that got a "C-" and is hard to imagine that any of the actors had acting roles before this - or after this, really, because it is so bad it would make sense for all of them to be chased out of Hollywood by an angry mob after filming was completed. The female lead is so bad it is painful, to the point where it almost feels embarrassing to watch sometimes. You get the feeling that if her family ever made home movies, she would be recast by someone who came off as more lifelike. She's the worst of the group, but almost the entire cast seems only vaguely familiar with the concept of acting and the whole thing is just painful to watch.

The writing is also bottom of the barrel, and it almost feels like, at times, the actors were just told to go out there and improvise everything. Multiple times in the game, Matt makes reference to some statistics that don't even make sense, and he does this because one time at the beginning he was shown to be reading some sort of math book, so clearly he's a mathematical genius. The guy works at the car park, and he's spewing the statistical chance that someone won't make another bid based on the fact that the price increases on a "logarithmic curve derivative approaching zero," which isn't even a thing that makes sense when talking about price. It is the ramblings of someone copying off their kid's math homework and hoping they got the buzzwords all right. There is so much dialogue here that is boring or just plain silly, and it is hard to want to follow along with the story when what everyone is saying is so insipid.

Screenshot for Late Shift on Xbox One

As for the gameplay, it comes in the form of choices that can be made that will affect the overarching story. There are plenty of these throughout Late Shift, some as inconsequential as deciding what to say and others as important as figuring out if you should go to the police or not. They take a page out of the Telltale book, and a lot of these decisions affect absolutely nothing. Run from the guy or go inside with him? Doesn't matter either way - you're going inside with him after one extra line of dialogue.

This definitely has a story it wants to tell, so because of that, a lot of these choices aren't really choices, and the end result is almost exactly the same no matter what you pick. There are seven endings in total and plenty of extra little scenes, so it isn't like choices don't matter at all, yet all the ones that do are sort of packed near the end, and the major deciding factor in getting a lot of the ends is whether or not you can figure out how to properly search a building the first time through. A lot of this is just sort of down to random chance, and most of the game is almost entirely inconsequential for all the endings.
Another major issue is the game has continuity issues almost from the start. It is hard for a game to have this many decisions and keep a consistent tone, and Late Shift solves this by not caring at all and just plowing ahead... face first into the wall.

Screenshot for Late Shift on Xbox One

Multiple times characters will reference something that didn't even happen on the current playthrough, or act in a way that is completely incongruous with how they've been acting up to that point in the plot. There is a romance subplot that doesn't really resolve no matter how the game is played, and the main character can feel completely schizophrenic at times, vacillating between helpful choir boy and bloodthirsty maniac seemingly from choice to choice. Sure, that is the nature in these kinds of games, but a little more consistency would've been nice.

Finally, the production is a mess, as well. At one point during an important dialogue-heavy scene, someone probably got bored with what they were saying and turned the music all the way up, completely drowning what the characters were saying - whoever mixed this clearly had no idea what they were doing. It is just hard to point out one thing Late Shift does right, and everything feels like a bit of a mess from top to bottom. The audio editing might sound like a minor point, and it is, but it exemplifies how little the people behind this game knew what they were doing. No part of this works, and the word that best describes this game is "mistake."

Screenshot for Late Shift on Xbox One

Cubed3 Rating

3/10
Rated 3 out of 10

Bad

The concept behind Late Shift is not necessarily a bad one, but if you're going to design a game around an interactive story, it is crucial the story is actually well done. This isn't the case here, sadly, and is a mess of continuity errors, laughably bad acting, and straight up nonsensical plot points. It doesn't matter which decisions you make, because you're always going to get a bad ending by virtue of having to play the game to get to it. This is a short, entirely forgettable experience that isn't even worth the low price of admission. There is some novelty here because of it being FMV, but with how bad things are, it certainly feels more like FML than anything else.

Developer

Wales Interactive

Publisher

Wales Interactive

Genre

Adventure

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  3/10

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

That last line XD

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