While my wife and I were playing As dusk fallsa tense new interactive thriller that recently launched on Xbox Game Pass, we would regularly turn to each other on the couch and say, “Coin flip.”
In As dusk falls, up to eight people playing together in local co-op can simultaneously vote on what characters in the game should do next. Think Black Mirror: Bandersnatch mix with Jackbox’s multiplayer multiplayer trivia brand. Similar to jack box games, you don’t even need a controller – you can just use your phone (although you have to download a companion app).
A lot of As dusk falls’ The story revolves around a hostage situation at a motel and, as you’d expect, the decisions can be quite difficult. In one instance, we had to choose between pointing a gun at someone as a threat or dropping it on the ground. Generally, the option with the most votes is the one the character will actually do, although some major decisions require full consensus. If there is a tie, the game will randomly select between the options.
Throughout our game, we regularly relied on this “corner flip” to add a bit of unpredictability. Will a character act calm or lash out under pressure? I almost always chose the safer route, but sometimes my wife would make a more chaotic decision just to see what would happen. In other cases, certain choices would be just as good – or bad – so we would mutually decide to split the vote and let the character “decide”. Those coin flips would stress me out, but they also helped the characters feel more like real people making their own choices.
While that’s a refreshing way to play a story-driven game, it’s not an entirely new idea. Supermassive’s 2017 thriller Hidden agenda likewise shot a gritty drama in a board game. But I hope other games will take a similar approach. In the case of As dusk falls, playing with my wife turned what would have looked like a just OK B-movie thriller plot into a much more memorable experience. There are also many branching paths, so we have a good excuse to return to the game.
And while my wife and I fight As dusk falls in about seven hours over a few evenings we still have a plot great co-op couch games on Xbox Game Pass that we can turn to. Earlier this year, for example, we had a blast with the early hours of nobody saves the world, a dungeon crawler where you play as all sorts of creatures and characters and mix and match their powers. This was not the case launch with a local cooperative; instead, we pretended with her on TV and me on Xbox Cloud Gaming on my laptop. Since the feature was officially added in April we were planning to go back.
Our Xbox Game Pass co-op backlog is stacked with other potential things to play. My colleague Andrew Webster has already written about Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge and how captures the essence of classic arcade games. I downloaded the puzzle game escape academy after reading Ash Parrish’s review — my wife and i have never done a physical escape room, but i think we are going to have a lot of fun with the game’s virtual rooms. i’m excited for Halo Infinite split-screen multiplayer to hang out (ultimately) so we can explore Zeta Halo together.
At the rate Microsoft adds games to Xbox Game Pass, this co-op backlog will almost certainly continue to grow. But one day I would like to return to As dusk falls with a larger group: I wonder how the story could unfold with eight people making the decision to do a corner flip together.
As dusk falls is available now on Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, Xbox Game Pass, and PC.