STAFF REVIEW of Late Shift (Xbox One)


Tuesday, April 18, 2017.
by Adam Dileva

Late Shift Box art Movies are a linear experience as you sit there for about 2 hours watching a story unfold from beginning to end without any interaction or input. Games on the other hand can be very cinematic, but allow for interactiveness, as you forge your own stories and destiny based on your actions. What if there was some sort of way to blend the mediums together, allowing for a Hollywood-like cinematic experience, but with options given to you, the audience, to change the story and outcomes?

Late Shift, created by CtrlMovie, a small Switzerland studio, is aiming to do just this with what they’re touting as the world’s first fully realized 'choose-your-own-adventure' film. Blending the two mediums together feels different at first, but that’s simply because it’s a newer medium. That’s not saying that Full Motion Video (FMV) games haven't been tried before, as it seems there was a small boom in the 90’s with the Sega CD, but it never really caught on. This is where CtrlMovie hopes to change that, with a fully-fledged interesting movie that puts you in control of the two styles of entertainment together.

Late Shift gives you up to 180 decisions to choose from, with seven endings in total to experience. You’re in control of the major decisions of the ‘game’, allowing for the main character to react however you see fit. With a budget of $1.5 million, you can expect a full HD quality movie that actually has quite an interesting story with a cast of wonderful actors and a well written script.

Written by the author of Guy Ritchie’s 2009 movie Sherlock Holmes, Late Shift has a compelling story revolving around a seemingly nobody that gets forced into joining a heist at gunpoint. You ‘play’ as Matt, a seemingly normal guy working the night shift at an underground parkade where rich people keep their exotic, and incredibly expensive, cars. Late Shift is all about making decisions, some trivial, like choosing to help a lost tourist with directions, and others that carry more weight, like trying to run away and escape your kidnapping, or playing along and waiting for the right moment. It’s these decisions that will shape the story that unfolds in front of you, usually different every time you play.


Nearly every decision you make has a consequence in some way. Deciding to help or not help the cute girl wanting to borrow some car keys will certainly lead you down a different path later in Matt’s story. You’re given just a few seconds to make your choice, forced to live with your decision afterwards, watching events unfold from that point on, just like in life.

I don’t want to give away too many plot points, as there’s numerous and different scenes to uncover based on your decisions, and it’s actually quite an interesting tale. This interactive movie will last roughly 90 minutes or so, but some decisions could lead to a longer or shorter runtime, as certain scenes will play out, or not, based on your choices. If you were to watch every scene in Late Shift, there’s about 4 hours or so of footage, which shows you how much work has gone into creating the multiple branching paths of storyline that can possibly play out.

Matt, played by Joe Sowerbutts, and May-Ling, played by Karuka Abe, both do a wonderful job with their acting as the main characters. The support cast also fills in their roles with believable performances and I’m glad that this came across like a true Hollywood movie experience in terms of the cinematography and acting, as I was prepared for a B-list performance given the medium has a somewhat a rocky past.

Every so often there will be 2, sometimes 3, buttons that appear on the bottom of the screen, and these are your choices for what action, or reaction, you want to make next. The options only appear for a few seconds so you can’t spend much time thinking about what your decision will be, but instead react emotionally. The feature that surprised me is that there’s no in-game pausing to make your decision, so the movie will play on regardless if you make a choice (it defaults to the left choice as opposed to the right I believe), leaving no awkward pauses between scenes. That being said, there seems to be a slight lag, or hitching, when the scene transitions from one to the next, but it is nothing too terrible to ruin the experience, but it is noticeable.


There is also no way to fast forward or rewind scenes, so if you’re playing for the tenth time, there’s no skipping the parts you’ve already seen, even the credits. There is a built in checkpoint system should you need to go quickly or turn off your Xbox One, allowing you to continue near where you last left off. I understand the thought process into not being able to skip scenes, as it’s supposed to be a cinematic experience, but a 90 minute commitment, multiple times, is a tall ask, and even after going through Late Shift about half a dozen times, I’ve yet to see every ending, as I don’t want to sit through the same scenes over and over again, back to back.

Late Shift is all about decisions, and then living with the choices you made. The first time I played I decided to do the ‘right’ thing, trying to play along, waiting for my time to make my escape, just how I think I would react in a crazy situation like that. By the fourth or fifth time playing, I had no regrets and wouldn’t hesitate clubbing an old man with a golf club. What’s interesting is that if this was purely a cinematic experience, I would have never been able to see completely different viewpoints and events.

It’s thrilling at first to see your choices play out in front of you, especially since it’s acted out by human actors. You feel as though you’re watching a movie, but now when you shout at the screen to “look behind you”, they’ll actually do said action. Choices are all about reactions and consequences. Do you make a run for it when you’re held at gunpoint, do you play along and try to turn in the bad guys, or do you give into the situation and demand a cut of the payday? Each plays out in completely different ways and have their own butterfly effect later on.

Deciding on the more difficult choices makes them feel as though they have weight to them. Do you give up the girl and blame her when you’re being tortured, or trust she won’t say anything and endure the pain? It’s exciting to replay through a few times, seeing all the twists and turns the story can bring, some of which completely shocked me, especially one of the endings.


I do wish that you could go to any of the scenes or checkpoints after completing a playthrough, as apparently this is an option on the mobile app version. Not that that’s a bad thing that you have to sit for the full experience every time, but there’s only so many times one can see the same scenes over and over again, knowing what one's decisions will be ahead of time. I’m actually planning on having a friend come over and play it so I can see their decisions, which I think will be quite interesting.

Is Late Shift any good though? As a movie experience, I’d say so, as you finally get to choose what the protagonist does. Do you lean in for the kiss from the girl or hold off for later? Do you get into a street fight or flog them off? This makes you feel like you’re the star of the movie and Matt is simply your vessel. As a side note, the developers were smart by moving the achievement and notification box that pops up on screen out of the bottom-middle of the screen up to the top right, as to not ever block your decision choices from view, a small touch that didn’t go unnoticed.

As a game, there’s no real mechanics here aside from choosing between multiple options and selecting them with the ‘A’ button. So, while it may not be interesting in its gameplay, that’s not what it’s setting out to do. Late Shift is attempting to blend two mediums together, something I think they did well, making certain decisions weigh heavily on your conscience, unaware of the ramifications later on. You’ll need to commit some time to see all of what Late Shift has to offer, but finding a new branch to the storyline is exciting, and I’m still trying to find a few of the different endings. It's a game experience where your decisions are yours alone to make. Your decisions are you.




Overall: 7.5 / 10
Gameplay: 5.0 / 10
Visuals: 8.0 / 10
Sound: 8.0 / 10

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