Choices matter. Whether that choice is as simple as what to have for lunch or more meaningful like going for a new job or pursuing a new relationship, every choice defines us. Choices are put in front of us daily and while we may have an idea of what will happen next things sometimes go drastically different. CtrlMovie’s Late Shift is centred around these kinds of choice and aims to show just how quickly things can change.
This FMV crime thriller revolves around Matt, whose night starts off simply with him heading to his job as a night guard at a car park for high end vehicles. From the very first moment you’re having to make choices, having to do so quickly otherwise the game will pick for you. Late Shift does not let you stop and weigh up the possibilities in front of you, instead wanting players to react with their gut feeling. Whenever a choice is made, the corresponding scene plays to keep the plot moving forward.
So we begin with Matt going to work, but it’s not long before he’s embroiled in a robbery for a valuable piece of pottery that’s up for auction. There’s more than one party interested in acquiring the antique, and Matt becomes the key to getting a hold of it, with him being a willing or unwilling participant coming down to the choices you make. The choices will affect the ending, with seven different ways in which the plot can conclude.
During the first and second play through, I felt invested in the story of Late Shift with a genuine sense of curiosity driving me. It helped that the acting is generally very good, even if there are a couple of moments that felt a bit over-exaggerated for effect. Late Shift is also very well shot, with a number of good camera angles that really give the feel of this being an interactive movie more than a game. Each playthrough can last around 80 to 90 minutes, so you can squeeze in a couple of playthroughs back to back or feel satisfied with just the one.
After that second playthrough though, the inconsistencies in the story start becoming more noticeable and plot holes rear their heads. You’re left wondering how a certain group knew where to find Matt with ease in a city as big as London, or why another character didn’t call the police, or how Matt came by the address of a certain important person. You end up scrutinising the overarching plot and wonder why it had to become so complicated in the first place.
Some of these holes can’t just be magicked away, because you’re with Matt the whole time, making the choices for him. He can’t suddenly just acquire knowledge of something without the player also learning it, as that would create a large disconnect. As you continue to play, you also realise that some of the choices don’t matter, with whatever option picked triggering the same overall outcome, just with a couple of extra lines spoken. If I give it the benefit of the doubt I could say Late Shift is making a point at these moments saying choice is an illusion, though I don’t think that is the case.
In terms of the video playback, the transitions between scenes were usually smooth though there were a couple of moments where a scene would trigger before another completely finished, cutting off character lines or actions. One huge annoyance for me was when I finished a playthrough and the credits started rolling. At the point I turned off my console and came back a few hours later, only to discover that Late Shift hadn’t registered that playthrough at all. It was pretty demoralising, to say the least.
Late Shift is a decent FMV title with a cast that puts in a lot of effort to make their characters believable. It’s let down by some glaring plot holes that don’t stand up to scrutiny. There are seven endings, meaning that some of the choices made do matter, while others feel a bit like filler and don’t seem to change anything. The ambition and the actual cinematography is there, but the writing really needs some improvement to push Late Shift toward greatness.
Version tested: PS4