Each game on this list so far has managed to do something very different in the realm of game design. For #5, we go in the opposite direction — with a game that perfectly mirrors old school design.
Dusk’s mantra was a simple one: Create a FPS today in the exact style of the 90’s. Similar to Doom 2016, Dusk wanted to return to that specific form of design, and it most certainly succeeded.
From the speed of character movement, the feel of the guns, and tons of secrets, Dusk could have been released in 1993 and nobody would have batted an eye. There isn’t much of a story to the game, and there didn’t need to be — this was a game meant for a specific fan.
Besides being a really good FPS, the reason why it makes my list is that this is one of the best possible versions of this kind of design. It’s very easy to look at older genres and think they’re very simple to make, but good design takes time. This is the reason why I’m writing the Deep Game Design series to explore how simple, good gameplay no matter the genre requires a firm understanding of the mechanics.
Dusk could have easily gone with upgraded graphics and have more elements of modern FPSes, but that wasn’t the mission statement the developers wanted. While this isn’t the longest game released, the quality of the map designs and variety of situations stand out. The gunplay is on point, and the game delivers on every element that makes 90’s shooters fun.
Where the game does push things further would be the later level designs. As the player enters the second and third episodes of the game, you can see just how much room there is to innovate on this design. Elements like gravity distortion, slowing down time, and more are thrown at the player.
In the end, Dusk succeeds by perfectly executing the gameplay loop that it set out to achieve, and that is going to come into play with the rest of the games on the list.
#4 is an unassuming title that surprised everyone as the second game from this studio.