Have you ever watched a movie before that had you screaming at the TV about how unrealistically the characters are acting to a certain situation? Or thought to yourself: “if that were me I would have done things differently”? If the answer to at least one of those questions is “yes” then Late Shift might be a game for you. This is another of those games that I just stumbled upon in a sale on the PS4, back when the PlayStation Store was having a Halloween sale. But this game is far from horrible and, instead, is a decent attempt at making a fully interactive movie.
It was dirt cheap, and I’d never heard of it before, but until that point I had never seen anything like it. It seemed ridiculous not to pick it up – the production value looked decent and it’s not every day you see a video game that’s all live action. One thing that surprised me is how diverse the storyline would get. I played the whole movie about 5 times overall and found four completely different endings and multiple scenes that were different from each other. Even the characters reacted to me in different ways. It’s a well thought out production, with seemingly multiple avenues to go down and different outcomes depending on your choices. There are 7 different endings and 14 scenes in total, only twelve of which I was lucky enough to see. It also surprised me how just one tiny decision can change the course of the whole story. Truly a superb example of the ‘butterfly effect’ within a game. The game never stops ensuring you have control and there was never a scene longer than one minute where I didn’t have a choice to make. The total play time for one viewing is somewhere around the 80-minute mark, giving you loads to do within that time. But completionists will want to play a few times over to see all that there is to see.
The story follows a student named Matt. He works night shifts in a garage looking after cars. His brain runs on statistics and percentages and he makes life decisions based on his own results. His logic fails him, though, when he is captured by a thug who was trying to steal a car. Unable to drive due to a bad arm wound, the thug forces Matt to drive him back to his home, where a group are planning to rob an auction house in order to steal a priceless rice bowl for an intimidating Chinese mobster. You are presented with various routes that you can take as you progress through the game. Do you go along with it? Do you try and get away? Do you tell the police? Everything has a consequence and a subsequent ending.
It is frustratingly difficult at times. Trying to make a snap decision or worrying too much about the outcome of an interaction could be your biggest downfall. It gets very tiresome at times. Like I said, I played five times over just to get that “good” ending, and while it was worth it I did find it annoying having to replay certain scenes. But I get why there is no fast-forward button. The whole point is you are watching a movie, and due to all the choices you make, you need to start from the beginning every time in order to influence the whole story. Small decisions that seem insignificant at the start of the game can actually become more important than you realise.
When games like this exist, there are bound to be problems. Plot holes are a big criticism, with some scenes not making sense in the bigger picture. As you learn more with each playthrough and see the different scenes you hadn’t seen before, some of those scenes that take place start to fall apart. But continuity issues are possibly the most noticeable problems. The time of day and lighting seemed to change at random times, taking you out of the moment completely. For example, there was a scene that was supposed to take place in the middle of the night, and a clock clearly said that the time was 5:30…
The acting isn’t terrible. The lead actors are pretty good, such as the protagonist Matt and leading lady May-Ling delivering pretty realistic roles. But there was one actor that was so terrible that I still don’t understand why he was there. My theory is that he must be somehow related to a cast member or something, as his line delivery was so bad that it was impossible to believe that this was his career. I’ll leave it at that, but you’ll see what I mean.
All in all, Late Shift is an interesting and thrilling experience from start to finish, and well worth a play or two. If you like the idea of a casual game that you can easily pick up and put down, then this game might be for you. If there are more games like this available, I’ll certainly be giving them a shot in the near future. If you can tolerate some of the dodgy acting, and you can get past the minor continuity issues, then you’ll surely have a good time.
I give Late Shift a 7/10