Review: Late Shift


late shift

A fine FMV game that’s become rather a rarity these days. We do get stuff like Contradiction, upcoming The Infectious Madness of Doctor Dekker, a Tex Murphy reboot titled Tesla Effect, and Her Story, a piece of real innovative narrative, but I wouldn’t go ahead and call FMV ADV genre rejuvenating — it’s as dead as my late grandpa, may him rest in peace, for its high production cost and relatively low gameplay value.

And I do look fondly at FMV cut scenes, for it’s wonky, it’s cheap, its small-budget-ish look and lack of professional cinematic techniques. I may be fooling myself, but these qualities actually give me a sense of passion and love.

That being said, Late Shift, to my surprise, hasn’t had any of them. It’s a glorious, triumphant masterpiece among its fellows with the best production I have ever seen. The performing in Late Shift is great and highly convincing; it’s very cinematically professionally filmed — the closest to a modern film, I dare say — and its story not half bad, engaging and intriguing. Hence, as soon as I got my hands on the game, I was utterly surprised by it.

The gameplay is the kind of “choose-your-own” adventure that has been popular lately (e.g. Telltale Games titles, Knee Deep, D4)… but with actually important choices that can lead to up to seven different endings and many different sequences, unlike that notorious pop-up message saying “Don Trump will remember that” without any noticeable impact on the ending. Thus although the game is short per playthrough (around 80 minutes), it’s worth multiple revisits, just to see how where that butterfly would cast a storm upon.

So Late Shift is a great FMV game, perhaps the best so far.

But it cannot revive the genre, sadly no. For what it’s worth, I’d say it will have a problem breaking even: it’s just simply way too expensive, for the genre to follow up, and for it, as a game in a dead genre, to recover its cost. Unlike Matt, I’m not good at numbers, I can’t figure out how much does it cost to feature approx three to six hours in total of professional movie clips, and how many copies must be sold to start making profits.

One minor issue does bug me though: you are not allowed to fast forward or chapter selection, making revisiting a chore, rather than an enjoyable journey. After three playthroughs I think I have now memorized most of the lines from the intro sequence.

I’m sorry to say so but its gameplay is just not appealing enough to modern gamers. In that sense, it’s both exceeding and lagging behind, the former its exquisite production and the latter its genre. I do love Late Shift, but I can only recommend it to those who like FMV games and Choose-your-own adventures.

The game is available on Steam.

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