Impressions: Late Shift

Late Shift is an FMV (full motion video) game from publishers Wales Interactive. Like many games in the same vein, you are presented with the main story and must make choices for your character, which then determine the outcome of the story. For Late Shift, you are playing a night security guard who gets roped into a heist.

For a game like this plot is key, and Late Shift has a decent one. As with many heist stories, the initial heist is only the beginning, and the fall out is where the main story takes place. You quickly discover that the targets of the heist are more dangerous than you were led to believe, and the people that hired the group are suddenly in denial.

Throughout the game, depending on the choices you make, you will uncover what actually happened and have various solutions for getting out of the situation. Most of them are not happy endings. There is a decent amount of endings, though, and a few different branches you can take to determine how you get there. However, the flaw in this game is that choices that change things are fairly rare overall, and you will see the same scenes a lot while trying to unlock various endings.

Now to be fair, I want to make it clear that I understand limitations in writing and developing games like this. What players expect in branching choices vs. what is actually realistic won’t always match. I appreciate that and err on the side of the developers. Despite that, this game could have used a few extra choices and branches and/or the ability to skip scenes that you see a lot in this game.

Either way, the overall experience is decent, and it is worth it to keep playing through, trying different things, and discovering the various outcomes. The characters are well developed, given the shortness of the game (each playthrough only takes between an hour or two).

The acting is pretty spot on. There are a few moments where things can get awkward, but overall it is good. This is important in FMV games since everything is dependent on the performances being good enough to keep people playing. Also, a lot of younger players aren’t going to have the nostalgia for over the top FMV performances like we were used to in the 90s.

It has a good soundtrack, although again limited. Be ready to listen to the same song multiple times, although that is less grating than seeing the same scene again and again.

In the end, there is little to complain about this game. So the bottom line, I think, really depends on the person playing. The gameplay is not really there; you simply watch it unfold and make a few choices at various points. Some people like these games, I certainly do as a bit of a palate cleanser, some hate them and don’t consider them games. Whichever category you fall into will determine if you should give this game a chance. If you don’t care for these types of games, this isn’t going to be the one to change your mind. It’s good but not that good, and it also has no other gameplay than choices to satisfy you. If you do like them, then it’s a solid game of its type. Entertaining well-done story and short enough that you can play in quick bursts but has enough story branches that you won’t feel like it’s a rip off. I personally really enjoyed it and think it’s one of the better of the rebirth of FMV games and hope to see more like it.

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