Dusk has been on my radar for 2018 thanks to its commitment to old-school FPS design. The game has been a labor of love over the course of developing its three episode structure. With the game finally out, we have the perfect example of a title that knows what it wants to be, and you’re just going to have to come along for the ride.
The story finds you waking up in a cellar with no memory of why you’re there. With murderous cultist and monsters on the loose, you take up sickle and gun to fight your way to freedom.
As you can see from the screenshots, Dusk is unapologetic about its FPS roots; the game even has a DOS-style loading at the start. Everything about the game feels like we just discovered a long-lost FPS from the 90’s.
Similar to Doom 2016, this is a game about maze-like levels, tons of secrets, fighting enemies without reloading and carrying your entire arsenal on your back. This is also a high-speed game, with your character moving like a rocket across the various levels.
There isn’t a lot to talk about in terms of Dusk’s overall design, as you either will love or hate it, but I want to talk about how the game gets FPS design.
Dusk has been in development for several years now, with the developer working on the game one episode at a time, and it shows in the evolution. As you play each episode, the creativity in the level and enemy designs began to become apparent.
Episode 2 introduces trippy levels and power ups like being able to climb up walls. Each level does a good job of telling a story via the environmental design, which is all the more amazing considering the aesthetic. From deserted towns, to mysterious cities in the sky, each level brings new elements against the player.
Episode 3 was developed to be released with the game being done and it shows the most evolution, to the point of putting the first 2 to shame. The changes in theme and challenge almost makes Dusk feel like a trilogy of short games; each one growing on top of the previous.
For fans of old-school multiplayer, Dusk ships with its own multiplayer mode titled “Duskworld,” which I suck way too much at FPS multiplayer to dive in.
Overall, Dusk is focused and distilled old school FPS design…whether you like it or not.
From a design perspective, there is nothing inherently wrong with Dusk. As we’ve talked about, this game is focused on delivering one kind of experience to the player. If you have any love for retro FPS, then Dusk will work for you, but this is not a game that is attempting to win new fans over.
Unlike Doom 2016 that tried to marry old and new school design together, Dusk is all about the old school. This also means the game is on the short side; taking me about four to five hours give or take to go through all three episodes.
The high speed and graininess of the graphics can be a little hard on your eyes after awhile. I would also suggest raising the brightness up due to how dark the game gets.
There really isn’t much else to say about Dusk. If you’re been looking for another FPS like Doom, and you’ve exhausted your FPS collection, this is a must play for you. For more about the design of the game, be sure to check out the interview I had with one of the Daves on the game below.