Late Shift Review
Late Shift Review
Late Shift feels like a move with click points and I am not sure that calling it a “game” is accurate.
Posted: 07/25/17 | Category: Review | Publisher: Wales Interactive | Platform: Windows

Genre: FMV Adventure
Release date: April 17, 2017
Directed by: Tobias Weber
Powered by: CtrlMovie
Published by:  Wales Interactive

 “Some people say we’re all connected, all part of some bigger picture. Some harmonious flow, endless and meaningful. Maybe that’s how it looks from a distance. But up close, with eyes open, I see no evidence of any spiritual choreographer at work. No, I see nothing but the random fractals of a selfish, queen-less hive.”  – Matt Thompson, Late Shift

The Choice is Yours 
 

I’ve always been wary of Full Motion Video (FMV) when it is applied to gaming. Developers walk a tightrope with this genre, balancing that thin line between a movie to be watched and a game to be played. Late Shift is a recent effort to strike this balance. It was created with CtrlMovie – a technology solution that is self-described as “an interactive movie format that gives the audience the ability to make decisions on behalf of the main character and see the consequence of their choices unfold seamlessly.” It was written by Tobias Weber and Michael Robert Johnson. Actor Joe Sowerbutts plays the lead role and he is supported by Haruka Abe who plays May-Ling.

The story centers around Matt Thompson, a student who works the late shift at a London parking garage. He is unwittingly drawn into helping steal a rare piece of Ming Dynasty china. The heist goes south and he finds himself just trying to survive the night. Throw in some beautiful women, a gang of thieves, a counterfeit artifact, a double-cross and a powerful Chinese family, and you have a classic mystery thriller. As a movie, Late Shift is excellent and is worthy of at least a few “thumbs ups.” It has a solid story, crisp cinematics, an engaging sound track and quality acting.

As Late Shift plays, decisions display on the screen as options to be selected. The film does not wait for your response and no decision (that is, not clicking a choice within the allotted couple of seconds) is, in fact, a choice. This timing element simulates the fact that, in real life, we must often make decisions in a split second and that time does not stop while we consider our alternatives. In some cases, a missed decision appears to default to a highlighted value. In other cases, there is no indication as to the choice you made by doing nothing.

LateShiftInTxtImg1

Late Shift boasts 7 different endings and a total of 14 chapters. In my first run through the story, I activated 12 chapters and made 45 decisions in a little over an hour. However, I missed more than a few decisions because it is easy to relax and watch instead of remaining alert for click points.  In my next run through the story, I sat back and did not make over half the decisions. I was rewarded with an extra chapter and a different ending.

LateShiftInTxtImg2

All Roads Lead To… 
 

Last year, I had the pleasure of playing The Bunker, also published by Wales Interactive. In my opinion, developer Splendy Interactive did an outstanding job of bridging the gap between movie and game. I was actively involved and I cared about the story.  I participated.

In contrast, Late Shift feels like a move with click points and I am not sure that calling it a “game” is accurate. In terms of mechanics, I have two significant issues with the Late Shift format. First, the impact of your decisions is not clear.  Although your path may twist in different directions, you seem to end up at the same destination. In the beginning, you have a “cooperate or run” choice when confronted by an armed assailant. If you cooperate, you join up with a gang of thieves. If you run, you are forced into a car outside the parking garage and still join up with the gang of thieves. Later, you have a choice to “go on the run or go to the police.” If you go on the run, you end up being taken captive by the Chinese. If you go to the police, a different set of scenes plays out but soon, you are (surprise!) still taken captive by the Chinese. Perhaps this illustrates the idea that ultimately, our lives are driven by fate and our choices are not as important as we think.

There are points at which the story branches into different endings. But, accessing them brings up my second area of frustration. There is no “fast forward” or “skip ahead” function in Late Shift. There is no “save” function, as the game stores your progress whenever you exit. To experience an alternate ending, you are going to have to sit through the entire film again with the hope that you’ve made enough different decisions to change the outcome. Let’s do the math…it took me just over 3 hours to watch the story 3 times for 3 different endings. Throw in a couple of extra viewings (because you are not guaranteed a different ending each time you play) and I’m looking at sitting through the entire movie at least 5 or 6 more times. There are few movies on the planet that I’m willing to watch over and over and over. For me, the reward of seeing additional Late Shift endings is not simply not worth the amount of time I’d have to invest to make that happen. 

A Movie by any other Name
 

In the end, I would classify Late Shift as a movie with click points, and not a game. Although we could have a philosophical debate on the definition of a “game,” I would liken that exercise to trying to define obscenity. As Chief Justice Potter Stewart so eloquently stated back in 1964, “I know it when I see it.” In my world, “I know a game when I play it.”

Grade: B+ as a Movie; B- as a Game 
 
Well-written mystery with good acting and quality cinematics 
+ Decision points add a seamless element of interactivity 
 
- Those looking for true “gameplay” may want to choose another title
- Despite choices and alternate endings, all roads generally pass through the same landscape
- Be prepared to invest a lot of time if you are committed to experiencing multiple endings
- If you are offended by the “F-Bomb” and other colorful language…consider yourself warned!
 Logo 
 
Trailer:
 

System Requirements

MINIMUM PC:
OS: Windows 7 64-bit
Processor:
Core i3/ AMD A6 2.4Ghz
Memory: 2 GB RAM
Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 260 / AMD Radeon HD 5750. OpenGL 3.3
DirectX: Version 11
Storage: 7500 MB available space
 
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