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Game Review: Late Shift
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Late Shift

Late Shift
AVAILABLE ON: Xbox One, PS4, PC, Mac
PUBLISHER: Wales Interactive
RELEASE DATE: April 18, 2017

Another fully live-action video game/interactive story, Late Shift is a crime thriller in which your choices determine how the story will play out.

The story opens with a student named Matt (Joe Sowerbutts) heading to his night job as a security guard. While on the job, a boring evening quickly takes a drastic turn when he finds himself being kidnapped at gunpoint and being forced to fill in on a heist. That’s where the roller coaster ride begins, and it’s up to you to decide how it all plays out. Will you jump on opportunities to try to escape or foil the criminals’ plans; do you play along as best you can for fear of your own well-being; or do you, with a promise of a cut of the prize, take a detour from your boring day-to-day existence and live a little dangerously.

This is the second fully live-action game I’ve reviewed in less than a year, the other being last year’s The Bunker (both published by Wales Interactive, who, along with Knee Deep, are killing it lately I must say). As I said in my review, that game was fairly linear and felt like a short film which was stretched out a bit due to some exploring of the underground nuclear bunker it is set in.

Late Shift, on the other hand, feels like a feature-length movie which changes course regularly as you make choices. It’s well-written, penned by Michael Robert Johnson (Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes, Duncan Jones’ Mute); Well-shot, directed by Tobias Weber; and well-performed, starring Sowerbutts, Haruka Abe, and Richard Durden among others.

You’ll never pay attention to a movie like you will this one, though. Choices pop up quickly and often and you have only a matter of seconds to make a decision, which makes situations all the more intense. I would recommend cautious snacking and drinking while enjoying, as I was caught off-guard mid-sip on multiple occasions. Liquids were spilled.

For my first playthrough, without spoiling anything, I started out going along with my kidnappers to ensure they didn’t shoot me in the face, but ended up getting caught up in the excitement of what was happening to me and perhaps even enjoying it a bit. I felt I was doing a fairly good job of making choices up until the very end, where things fell to pieces for me.

My first conclusion was one of seven different endings you can reach depending on your choices. There’s also a total of 14 chapters to the story, but you won’t always see all of them. My first story felt complete, but as I later discovered, I had only opened up 12 of the 14 chapters. So naturally I was excited to go back and play again, as I always am for choice-based games like this, not only to try to reach some of those other endings but also to see how much the story can change in getting to the ending.

For my second playthrough I tried to make as many different choices as I could, no matter how big or small, and really take Late Shift for a test drive. The results were a bit mixed.

There were times when a clip I saw in my first playthrough would play again in my second playthrough, which isn’t always a problem, but sometimes after choosing a much different reaction than I chose the first time around, some of those repeat clips didn’t fit very well. I can’t imagine it would have been easy to have different clips for most or all of the different choices you make (over 180 of them total—57 of which I encountered in my first playthrough, and 41 in my second), but closer attention to detail on some of the clips—especially bigger ones at important points in the story—would have helped greatly in each playthrough feeling more unique.

That said, I was delighted to find that some of my choices did indeed veer off in completely different directions, leading to brand new scenes and settings I never experienced in my first playthrough. This is exactly what I was hoping for when I started playing, and it definitely helped to compensate for the repeat scene problems mentioned above.

I enjoyed my first playthrough of Late Shift a great deal, and that alone makes it something I would recommend to those interested in entertainment like this. There are some small issues with additional playthroughs, but the new scenes and story changes more than make up for this.

This cool little choose-your-own-adventure movie is well worth your time, and I’m more excited than ever to see games and movies with interactive elements like this continue to evolve and become more complex as technology allows developers like CtrlMovie and others to branch off further and further from the other storylines.


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