While my wife and I played on When dusk fallsa thrilling 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 When dusk falls, up to eight people playing together in local co-op can vote simultaneously on what the game’s characters should do next. Think Black Mirror: Bandersnatch mixed with jackboxes multiplayer trivia. Equivalent to jack box games, you don’t even need a controller – you can just use your phone (although you’ll need to download a companion app).
A lot of When dusk falls’ the story revolves around a motel hostage situation, and as you might expect, decisions can be quite difficult. In one case, we had to choose between pointing a gun at someone as a threat or dropping it on the floor. In general, the option with the most votes is the one that the character will actually do, although some key decisions require full consensus. If there is a tie, the game will randomly choose between the options.
During our playthrough, we regularly relied on this “coin flip” to add some unpredictability. Will a character act calmly or lash out under pressure? I almost always chose the safe route, but sometimes my wife made a more chaotic decision to see what would happen. In other cases, some of the choices would be equally good – or bad – so we would collectively decide to split the vote and let the character “decide”. These coin flips would stress me out, but they also helped the characters more like real people making their own choices.
While it was a refreshing way to play a story-driven game, it’s not an entirely new idea. Supermassive’s thriller from 2017 hidden agenda similarly, a gritty drama turned into a parlor game. But I hope more games take a similar approach. In case of When dusk falls, playing with my wife made what would have felt like an ordinary OK B-movie thriller plot into a much more memorable experience. There are also a lot of branching paths, so we have a good excuse to get back to the game.
And while my wife and I beat When dusk falls in about seven hours over the course of a few evenings we still have a lot of great co-op games on Xbox Game Pass for us to check out. Earlier this year we had a blast from the first few hours of Nobody saves the world, a dungeon crawler where you play as a variety of creatures and characters and mix and match their powers. It actually didn’t launch with local cooperative; instead we did it with her on the TV and with me on Xbox Cloud Gaming on my laptop. Since the position was officially added in April we felt like going back.
Our Xbox Game Pass co-op backlog is packed with other potential things to play. My colleague Andrew Webster has already written about: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge and how it captures the essence of the 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’ll have a lot of fun with the game’s virtual one. I’m excited for Halo Infinite’s split screen multiplayer to come out (eventually) so we can explore Zeta Halo together.
At the rate Microsoft is adding games to Xbox Game Pass, that co-op backlog will almost certainly continue to grow. But one day I would like to come back to When dusk falls with a larger group: I wonder how the story might turn out if eight people make the decision to flip the coin together.
When dusk falls is now available on Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, Xbox Game Pass, and PC.