The Late Shift is a Swiss and British game-movie hybrid that puts you in the driver’s seat of the experience. Calling itself “the world’s first cinematic interactive movie,” The Late Shift asks you to make key decisions for its protagonist, Matt, with your choices affecting the storyline you experience. When a choice is on offer, you’ll have mere seconds to make your decision, and if you’re not quick enough, the game will make one for you. With more than 180 decision points, a number of unique chapters, seven distinct endings, and over four hours of film, you get a good deal of content for a reasonable price. But is The Late Shift a Nintendeal?
This was our first movie-game, and for our play-testing, we (Nick and Sarah) decided to each play through the “game” while the other watched. Sarah played first, and in the beginning, she made what she thought were kind and ethical choices. But as time passed, she settled into the role of a criminal, and by the time she reached her ending, she felt like a bad person. Then Nick took over in a new file, making different decisions to create a different experience. During this second play-through, certain plot points felt repetitive, like the opening scene and other key moments that play out no matter what. But overall, our two play-throughs resulted in two very different experiences, and we still have five more endings to unlock if we want to.
But that’s the question: do we want to unlock more of this movie-game? We think we will want to, but we’re not sure when. We’ve already experienced the basic plot twice, and we’re guessing it will be a while before The Late Shift feels fresh to us again. Then again, we played through the thing twice in one night, so it’s no wonder we’re a little sick of the experience. And yet, after Sarah had reached her ending on our first play-through, we really wanted to see how differently things could have played out if we had made different choices, and our eagerness to give The Late Shift another try speaks to the intriguing nature of the experience it offers.
Before experiencing The Late Shift for the first time, we wondered how decision points might be integrated into the “film,” and after starting up our first file, we were surprised to learn that decisions must be made quickly: once a choice appears near the bottom of the screen, you’ll have just seconds to make your selection, which makes for plenty of high-pressure moments and perhaps a few regrets. Some players may feel that this rapid process for decision-making renders their choices pointless, since there’s never time to really think things through and make the “right” choice. But it’s worth remembering that this is how life goes: we make hundreds, if not thousands, of decisions every day, with just fractions of seconds available to make our choices—and most of the time, we probably aren’t aware we’re making decisions at all.
Now we’ll turn to the cinematic qualities of this movie-game. Visually, The Late Shift is just as stunning as any HD action film, and for what it is, the acting is quite good. But the script could definitely be better, and in our two play-throughs, we think we noticed a few slight continuity errors. Yet it’s crucial to acknowledge the complexities in designing a script that incorporates 180 decision points and a range of experiences, all while retaining key plot points. The Late Shift isn’t a perfect experience, but when you consider what it really is, it’s pretty impressive.
So is The Late Shift a Nintendeal? It depends on your perspective. While it offers tons of content, you might not be motivated to unlock it, and there’s a chance you may only want to experience The Late Shift once. Then again, the same often goes for any movie or game, since you don’t always want to re-watch a movie or re-play a game after you’ve experienced the thing once. Plus, when you consider today’s average prices for movie theater tickets, new film downloads, and indie games, The Late Shift offers a pretty good deal. In our view, this makes The Late Shift a Nintendeal, and if you like what you’ve seen here, you should check it out as soon as you can.
Platform – Nintendo Switch eShop Download
Publisher – Wales Interactive Ltd.
Developer – CtrlMovie / Wales Interactive
Price – $12.99
Genre – Adventure, Action
Nick and Sarah are the ultimate gaming couple. Nick is a Super Mario Maker 2 enthusiast, but working with Nintendeal has fostered a love for tough-as-nails indies such as Enter the Gungeon, Celeste, and Cuphead. Sarah prefers sim games like Animal Crossing, Don’t Starve, and Stardew Valley, but she challenges herself by grinding Slay the Spire from time to time.