Late Shift is an FMV game with choices made having consequences from very beginning, right through to the end. Not sure what to make of Late Shift? Read our review below…
Late Shift from Wales Interactive is following what could be the humble beginnings and hopefully a trend of Live Action video games. I use that term loosely, as Late Shift is better described as an interactive movie than a straight up video game. The Bunker started this, but was a more linear, narrative driven story, whereas Late Shift gives you the freedom to choose your own story. Think what Telltale Games do with their episodic series of games. But unlike these titles, Late Shift gives you not only choices but also consequences to deal with. Your own moral integrity will play a huge part as you watch Matt (Joe Sowerbutts) guided by your decisions after he is kidnapped and forced to involve himself in a daring heist on auctioneers Hainsworth for a sought after porcelain bowl. It’s not so straightforward as you’d expect, otherwise it would end up being a terrible story. The owner Samuel Parr (Richard Durden) selling up, with the Tchoi Family looking to return it to their family are key figures as this crime thriller unravels. Nothing is ever as simple as you would have hoped.
As your life becomes more involved in the heist, and as the Tchoi Family become more determined to not only recover the porcelain bowl, but exact revenge on those involved in the hesitate, choices become far more critical. The fact that their is 7 different endings, is a testament to the wide variety of decision making on offer. From the moment you begin as car park security attendant, your first decision shapes the outcome of the journey ahead. The tension as certain moments present themselves will keep you on the edge of the seat during the course of treatment 90 minutes it takes to conclude your story. It may be quicker or slower depending on choices made.
The cast isn’t one that I am familiar with, aside from Richard Durden whose name I have seen before. The tycoon and rather selfish character portrayed by the British actor is one that I particularly enjoyed. Joe Sowerbutts starring in the lead role as Matt, the student working his job to make ends meet who ends up in the wrong place at the wrong time, performs admirably. Transforming from wannabe hero to someone who becomes hardened to life around him and his actions as the Tchoi’s relentlessly hunt him down. Finally, Haruka Abe’s performance as May Ling, as the final main role has a far softer side than you’d expect as part of a gang of thieves.
As much as I enjoyed my time with Late Shift, I did encounter some immersion breaking moments. I always play games with subtitles and several occasions presented themselves whereby May Ling had different spellings, which isn’t all that bad, but still noticeable. Along with grammatical issues where some words appeared and where never spoken. Also when loading a new scene, the video speeds up and slows down, reminding you that you are indeed “playing” a video game and not working a movie. The acting itself is of a high standard for the most part. Although the first gang member in the car park doesn’t put himself over as intimidating despite holding a gun and nursing a broken arm. Then the Hainsworth security guard during his fight scene, it just doesn’t feel authentic enough. Apart from this, the plot revolves around Matt and May Ling in their desperate bid to retried the bowl, allowing their characters to shine through.
The music and ambience are integrated well but can be louder than necessary, almost drowning out the actors. Thankfully, this isn’t a constant and when the return to ambient sounds returns it invites tension build up back into the fray allowing the actors voices to be heard once again.
For gameplay, you simply have to select a from a choice of either 2 or 3 options, keep the immersion flowing. The choices are timed and give you precious few seconds in which to decide your course of action. Do you at the part of the obedient dog, or do you think “nah mate” an attempt a runner? This is your movie, you make the decisions, then let it play out for you. Personally, I hope to see more games of this ilk and caliber arrive on console, giving lesser known actors a chance to showcase their talents. Not to mention script writers. Late Shift is well written, acted and just the right length from start to finish. Given the multiple choice of 7 different endings, this encourages you to give it more than one chance. Find out what would happen “if” with regards to critical choice selection along the way.
Despite the short time it takes from beginning to end, the fact remains that there are 7 endings for Late Shift, offering up plenty of rest value. Your decision making has consequences, and ones that actually matter, branching the game on to a new story arc. Unlike the TellTale games. Do you do the young blonde girl a favour at the start? Or do you give her the brush off? Would you risk running downstairs past the gangsters? Or attempt to break the window to escape them? Having seen multiple endings, even early choices can drastically affect the future. Just like the real world. I would say think long and hard, but you have to make snap decisions along the way. Make a decision quickly. It’s all down to how you are as a person with your own moral alignment. Then play a different way and discover a new ending. Or just make slight changes. The choice is ultimately yours.