Towards the back end of last year, we were pleasantly surprised by a full-motion video game named The Bunker. The first of its kind on PlayStation 4, its story, characters, and acting performances were the driving factors in what was a short but sweet experience. Publisher Wales Interactive is now back with a second foray into the FMV genre in the form of Late Shift, developed by CtrlMovie and written by the author behind the 2009 film Sherlock Holmes, Michael R. Johnson. Originally released on the iPad and iPhone, its origins could be questionable to a point, but does this jump to the big screen bring with it a quality affair?
You follow Matt, a Mathematics student who in-between lectures and parties works as a chauffeur at a car park in London. But one night he is held at gunpoint and forced into driving a robber to his accomplices, who then pressure Matt into helping them steal a valuable Chinese bowl at an auction. Based on your actions, the heist may or may not go well, but as a result of it, Matt has to set out on a mission to clear his name and learn of the mystery behind the Chinese bowl he helped steal.
Consider it's the centrepiece of the game, Late Shift's story is uninspiring. Attempts to build upon the base plot are made, but the few curve balls and twists that are thrown at you leave a lot to be desired, as well as being fairly predictable. This left us with a plot that did little to engage, excite, or even really interest us.
At the time of writing we've seen four of the game's seven endings, and these are the narrative's high points thanks to their variation. Things could grind to a screeching halt as your decisions cause further problems for Matt, or you could go all the way and uncover the mystery behind the bowl but in turn also place another character in a troubling situation. Depending on what happens, the story can last as little as 45 minutes or stretch to an hour and a half. These choices and endings are the game at its peak, but it's a shame that they're affecting something that is so dull.
Another fault of the narrative is that despite it being shot in real-time with actual actors, the game requires you to suspend a lot of disbelief. This is due to the breakneck pace it moves at, taking place over one night and the early morning afterwards, and the fact that some scenes simply wouldn't work in real life. One scene, depending on your choices, sees Matt visit a hospital to talk to someone who was at the auction that night. He approaches a receptionist to ask of the subject's room number, but is denied. Matt then moves to the second assistant, who is literally sat three feet away from the original, and asks her the exact same question. Of course this second clerk would have already heard the first interaction in real life and would deny him straight away. But she still goes through the motions of looking up the patient Matt is looking for. This simply would not happen in the real world.
There are further flaws found in the title's script, where a number of inconsistencies are located. Certain lines are built into the script, but Matt wouldn't actually know what he's talking about unless you chose a specific route through your choices. For example, at the very beginning of the game the robber that takes you hostage breaks into the car park through a 15-foot high vent. If you select the right choices, Matt will uncover this point of entry but if you don't, then he doesn't find it at all. However, Matt mentions the vent minutes later, no matter whether he actually found it or not.
The judgement calls you make are the only pieces of gameplay to be found in Late Shift. You'll be given two or three different options to select from and with a press of the X button, you'll be on your way. And that's it. There is a timer that ticks down for every decision you have to make which increases the tension somewhat, but when you don't feel engaged in the plot itself, it rarely comes into play. For a video game, this feels like too much of a step in the wrong direction. The Bunker struck a great balance between its gameplay and full-motion video, but Late Shift has laid far too heavily into the film portion this time around. Had the gameplay been more enticing and offered a few more mechanics, it could have elevated the uninteresting plot to a greater level.
If you really boil it down, Late Shift is a movie with a plot that you can alter. Sadly, that plot isn't very good. Gameplay is minimal, and where The Bunker struck a decent balance, the lack of interaction here only serves to make the experience more of a slog. This can only be described as a complete disappointment.
Shame, I was actually looking forward to this. Might still give it a go when it's discounted but was hoping it would have a little more to it.
So in other words its like all the other FMV games.
A barely interactive movie.
Just this time the video part isnt compressed down to run on a Sega CD.
Thought this genre died out in the late 90's though when Trilobyte went under.
@KitsuneNight That's not really what the review says, to be fair. His problem is not with the FMV — he liked The Bunker — it's just that the story isn't very interesting and is riddled with plot holes, which accentuates the lack of interactivity as the story is the most important part.
To be honest that sounds like every other FMV game out there.
It's biggest sin then is that it's boring.
At least you can snicker at the inept ones.
I love FMV sequences in my video games, but not games built entirely around the feature...
Never gets old.
@KitsuneNight the bunker is brilliant! A great story and characters. That's FMV and if every FMV game had as much atmosphere and delivery then I would be a happy gamer. You should check it out.
Pity this game goes for the visual novel / choose your own adventure approach and comes undone. Multiple endings done well are great, but usually the none canon endings come across as half hearted.
Sounds more like the Telltale Games mold of "games",
where the "choice" they give you isn't a choice at all.
Just a pretense of choice.
@KitsuneNight no, multiple endings means multiple endings, that's different to the telltale mould. There is a definite choice. I haven't played late shift but I'm presuming steins gate type decisions dotted around.
The bunker only has one choice right at the end but it's a standalone story. Worth a playthrough as the acting great.
finding it not to bad was only going to have a quick go but still playing 40 mins later
Just played this through twice, while the misses played it as well in the other room to compare playthroughs. We both like it too. 4 is a really bad score for this, it was less than a tenner and already I have played it through twice and want to play it through again. TBH i always find Pushsquare very harsh on reviews and it used to put me off buying games but now i take this sites review with a pinch of salt and just use it for gaming news.
@dirtytoneuk Just because it was less than £10 and you've got two playthroughs out of it, doesn't make it a good game.
@dirtytoneuk You should take all reviews with a pinch of salt, especially when it's an opinion about a story being boring and full of plot holes.
Also as mentioned in one of the other articles recently, it's worth noting that a 4/10 on here doesn't necessarily mean that the game is really bad for everyone.
Check out the scoring definitions here - https://www.pushsquare.com/scoring
"A below average experience with many flaws, these titles fall short of the mark in several areas, but may still have redeeming qualities that make them appealing to a certain type of player. A release awarded this score may have an uninviting gameplay loop that requires a specific mind-set, or good ideas which are executed poorly."
Glad to hear you enjoyed it though as like I said before I was interested in giving this a playthrough myself.
I plan to get a lot more playthroughs out of it to get the platinum. I think around 8 to get all the endings But it nice easy. Non stressful game to play through. And I am enjoying the different in the decision making to what my misses is.
TBH for a tenner i can't complain. I have watched worst movies than this. At least this one you get to change the story to your decisions. I hadn't even heard of this game till read about it tonight but liked what I see so decided to take a punt and was happy with my purchase. Others may not be and may feel 4 is too high. All down to personal opinion.
Too bad FMV games are a novelty I always get curious about but this did look more like a student art project...
@dirtytoneuk Just finished my first "playthrough" of this and I have to say I enjoyed it as well. It's not without flaw and there are certainly a few plot holes and poorly acted scenes but I was intrigued throughout my hour and a bit first go.
Will likely go for that platinum as well as I'm interested to see how my choices might make the story play out differently.
Hmm, well my 2nd playthrough was actually less interesting. It could be that I was getting tired of the format and repetition having played it again straight after, but some of the scenes in this run didn't make as much sense as before and the ending wasn't anywhere near as satisfying.
I guess it could be one of those games where your initial experience ultimately shapes your view of whether you enjoyed it or not.
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