Review: Late Shift (Switch)

More film than game.

By Marc Deschamps. Posted 05/18/2018 08:15 Comment on this     ShareThis
The Final Grade
grade/score info
1-Up Mushroom for...
Production values are great; strong acting; good replay value
Poison Mushroom for...
Short length; not much in the way of actual gameplay; it's impossible to know when the game is saving

Hard as it may be to believe, the FMV renaissance is in full swing at the moment. Late Shift from publisher Wales Interactive is the latest entry in the genre on eShop and, as far as production values are concerned, it significantly raises the bar even from the publisher’s previous release, delivering an impressive cinematic experience.

Late Shift’s storyline follows Matt, a university student that works the late shift in a parking garage filled with expensive cars. When a gun-toting thief decides to steal a car for a heist, Matt quickly finds himself involved in a criminal conspiracy. The plot is pretty standard cinema fare, but the decisions players have to choose from during the game are viewed through the lens of the character’s morality, adding a bit more depth. At the start of the game, Matt ponders his own moral character, and since the game tasks players with making Matt’s decisions for him, they essentially get to decide the kind of person he is. These decisions change the storyline in ways that are sometimes small, and sometimes significant.

Making decisions for Matt encompasses the entirety of Late Shift’s gameplay. Like Wales Interactive’s other recent release, The Bunker, Late Shift is more film than game. In fact, while The Bunker still had a lot of the trappings of a point-and-click adventure game, Late Shift has no place for you to point or click to. There are also no moments that stop the narrative for you to solve a puzzle, or travel to different rooms. Instead, everything during the game takes place 100 percent within the confines of the film. Opportunities during the story to select between different options don’t even slow the pace, giving players a very short amount of time to make decisions. The result is a seamless experience that would seem right at home in a movie theater or on Netflix with minimal changes. Depending on what players are looking for, that seamlessness may or may not be a good thing. As both a gamer and a film buff, I think there’s room for this type of thing on eShop, and I very much welcome more titles like Late Shift, though not everyone will agree, and your mileage certainly may vary.

What’s beyond dispute, however, is the quality of the production values in Late Shift. I have never seen a title in the FMV genre look this impressive. The Bunker set a high bar, but playing through the game, it was easy to find certain “cheats” that the developers/film crew used to keep costs low: the game all took place inside one location, and the storyline only required a handful of actors for major roles. Late Shift is different. I have no idea what the budget must have been for this game. Scenes were clearly filmed across a number of locations, and there are a far greater number of actors involved in this project. More importantly, the acting is generally on the stronger side, overall. These elements make Late Shift feel like an impressive undertaking and it truly sets a new standard for what players should come to expect from FMV games.

One of the more annoying issues in Wales Interactive’s FMV games is that there isn’t any notification of when the game is saving. Fully turning the game off never sent me back more than a few minutes at most, but it was always a bit nerve-wracking not knowing what saved and what didn’t. A simple corner icon for this sort of thing would have worked wonders, and wouldn’t have distracted from the seamlessness of the experience. A “Pause” button would have also been nice. While the “Home” button basically accomplishes just that, it feels like there was almost too much emphasis placed on making Late Shift feel less like a game.

Another thing some players may take issue with is the fact that Late Shift can be wrapped up within a fairly short amount of time. Since it’s essentially a movie, the game is paced similarly, and getting to your first ending should only take a couple of hours, depending, of course, on the choices you make. That said, the game boasts seven different possible endings, giving the title a bit more replay value. An unlockable fast forward option would have been a nice addition to speed up opportunities to get to different endings and choices, however.

Late Shift is the latest example of just how far the FMV genre has come since the days of the Sega CD: the production values are insanely impressive, the narrative is interesting and the acting is strong. There are also incentives to revisit the game, making it a deeper experience than other options on the eShop. Players looking for a more hands-on experience will likely want to steer clear, but fans of the FMV genre will find that Late Shift sets a new standard.

Nintendojo was provided a copy of this game for review by a third party, though that does not affect our recommendation. For every review, Nintendojo uses a standard criteria.

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