As Dusk Falls. Credit: Interior Night.

When As Dusk Falls launched in 2022, we called it “a spectacular tale of family and trauma” – but not everybody got to play it. Released only on Xbox and PC, this interactive drama takes place at Nevada’s Desert Dream Motel, where an armed robbery spirals into a desperate hostage situation. It’s a choose-your-own-adventure narrative, which means you determine how the game plays out by making decisions for the captive Walker family and gun-toting Holt brothers.

This month, it’s coming to PlayStation for the first time. If this means you’ll be able to jump in for the first time, you should be very excited. As Dusk Falls is an enthralling tale about family and trauma, and plays like a prestige HBO show that you can meddle in.

One of the game’s most compelling characters is co-protagonist Jay Holt, a reluctant robber who’s been pressured into crime through loyalty to his family. He’s played by Geordie actor Ryan Nolan – who you may have seen in 1917 or Becoming Elizabeth – and right now, As Dusk Falls is the only project he’s tackled in gaming.

Speaking to NME, Nolan shares that his favourite part of playing Jay was highlighting his “softness”, which is in stark contrast to the stone-cold pragmatism of his eldest brother Tyler, and his older brother Dale. Jay prefers books to bandoliers, and is uncomfortable with having to intimidate the innocent people they’re holding at gunpoint. Watching Jay juggle familial duty and his morals is the most interesting part of As Dusk Falls, as it’s used to explore how far circumstance and nurture can go toward shaping someone’s identity.

As Dusk Falls. Credit: Interior Night.
As Dusk Falls. Credit: Interior Night.

“Sometimes you see people being dickheads, and you think ‘you didn’t have a choice’,” says Nolan. “Jay doesn’t have a choice – but he’s trying so hard. He’s such a compelling character, especially because you can control his actions and alter his morality.”

Nolan also loved As Dusk Falls‘ working-class setting. Jay and his family live in rural Nevada, and their lives are defined by poverty – first through their father’s gambling debts, then by ludicrously expensive medical bills. “It’s not sexy America, it’s blue collar – it was really good to capture that” says Nolan, who admits he often plays characters “defined by their class [and] circumstances”.

As the player, you’re not just controlling Jay’s decisions – you also make choices for the Walker family via devoted dad Vince. It makes for a difficult crossroads, as sometimes the decision right for Jay isn’t in Vince’s best interests, and vice versa. While the first half of As Dusk Falls is about making the choices you think are right, the second half is about reckoning with the consequences of your actions.

Nolan credits Caroline Marchal, Interior Night founder and creative director of As Dusk Falls, with bringing the game’s bigger picture together. He remembers the director being present “all day every day” while filming, and says she was an “encyclopedia” whenever actors had a question. More importantly, Marchal offered Nolan and his co-stars a “collaborative” atmosphere to try new approaches and explore their characters. “Nothing was compromised with the performances,” he says, “there was space to grow and respect the process”.

As Dusk Falls. Credit: Interior Night.
As Dusk Falls. Credit: Interior Night.

When we speak to Marchal, she has nothing but praise to give for Nolan’s “integral” performance. However, we nearly got a much different version of Jay – Interior Night once created a “darker path” for him, but when testers could no longer forgive his actions, it was ultimately toned down for the character we have now.

“Jay has always been the sensitive kid in the family,” says Marchal. “He’s got the moral dilemma of loving his family, but he’s conscious they’re making him do toxic things for survival.”

Though they’re on the wrong side of the law, As Dusk Falls does a fantastic job of painting the Holt brothers as victims of circumstance. It makes for a captivating, very human drama – the trick to getting this right, Marchal says, is “writing from a place of empathy”.

“No one in life is the baddie of their own story,” Marchal points out. “People always have reasons to do things, and try to make the best of their situation.”

Through this human angle, As Dusk Falls explores delicate subjects like trauma with nuance. The Holt boys are subject to violence and abuse from their father, who is, in turn, mimicking his own dad’s behaviour. Later on, we see how a night of violence in the Desert Dream Motel affects Zoe Walker, who is only a small child when she’s taken hostage.

Marchal feels As Dusk Falls‘ narrative-driven formula makes it a fantastic fit for PlayStation. Games like The Last Of Us and 2018’s God Of War reboot, arguably PlayStation‘s biggest games, have won acclaim for their stories of fatherhood and vulnerability. On her end, Marchal has worked on plot-heavy games Beyond: Two Souls and Heavy Rain, which were both PlayStation exclusives at launch.

“The audience here is very welcoming to narrative and cinematic experiences,” says Marchal. “So I’m hoping there’s a good fit here.”

Currently, Marchal and Nolan are both eager for more people to get their hands on As Dusk Falls, which launches on PS4 and PS5 on March 7. But looking further ahead, Marchal may not be done with the world that Interior Night has set up. The studio has “thought a lot” about how a sequel would work – many players finish As Dusk Falls with wildly different endings, making continuity a major challenge.

“There is more room for more stories to be told with Zoe,” she says. “Not just Zoe. [Her grandfather] Jim’s past is linked to Two Rock, so there’s more about Two Rock – but whether [a sequel] will tell this story remains to be seen.”

As Dusk Falls launches on PS4 and PS5 on March 7, and is out now for Xbox and PC.

The post Why PlayStation fans should be excited for ‘As Dusk Falls’ appeared first on NME.


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