Realism has become a big part of video games these days and you don’t get much more real than the live action video game Late Shift. Although Late Shift doesn’t actually describe itself as a game, apparently it is the worlds first cinematic interactive movie. So that’s pretty exciting.
Staring Joe Sowerbutts as the main protagonist Matt and Haruka Abe as May-Ling, Late Shift is a movie where you determine what happens at certain parts of the game so you direct events and make the story uniquely yours, or almost unique anyway. During the course of the approximate eighty minutes of the film you make around sixty different decisions meaning that you really feel like you are involved in the story.
The events of the film play out over a long night and see you getting yourself dragged into circumstances that seem to spiral more and more out of control. Everything starts out normally enough as you travel to your job as a luxury car park attendant whilst you study high level mathematics during the day. Mathematics is a constant theme that runs through the game as you seem to be told the probability of success of what’s going to happen. There is also a littering of other mathematical references popping up as you go along that makes you think that you could indeed be a maths student yourself.
Late Shift is a game where your choices really do matter that really demands more than one playthrough. In fact there are seven different endings for you to see and the smallest decisions can have a startling effect on the story. Other times you can make what seems to be a life changing choice and nothing seems to be different from a previous playthrough. Then suddenly twenty minutes later you are being taken in a completely different direction.
Your choices are made by selecting an option from a selection that appears at the bottom of the screen. You don’t get very long to make a decision and this can make your choices feel instinctive and as if it is what you would really do in that situation. This lack of time also helps prevent the pauses in the action from feeling jarring. The film seems to flow naturally.
The acting is of an extremely high standard and this does have the feel of a very British feature film. The quality is such that you really feel invested and the tension is ratcheted up at just the right moments meaning that you always have an urge to find out what happens next.
One of our main criticisms of Late Shift is its length. The play time varies slightly depending on your choices but none of our run throughs lasted more than eighty minutes. Now this is something that is quite understandable when you consider how much filming would have had to be done to cover all of the different choices. According to the official blurb there is more than four hours of film in the game.
The storytelling in Late Shift is fantastic. The pacing is just right to keep you engaged but still give you time to work out what is going on. The only issue we had with the story is that the ending came all too suddenly. This happened with each playthrough that we had. But once again, with the amount of filming needed to cover every option this is understandable and it is a testament to the storytelling that we didn’t want the experience to end. We had become so invested with the characters that we just wanted to know more.
Costing £9.99 from the Xbox Store, Late Shift may seem a little expensive for an eighty minute film experience but there is certainly a lot of retail value here. This is a great film that makes you feel really involved. This could be a fantastic start to a beautiful relationship between video games and film.
Late Shift is a fantastic eighty minute film experience that allows you to really feel engaged with the story. The quality of the acting and storytelling will give you more than enough reasons to play through this one again and again.