EA SCOUT the last line of defense for buying on Steam's Early Access
by William Thompson
previewed on PC
Much can be said of nostalgia and the role it plays in our love for various forms of entertainment. I’ll admit that as an older gamer there are times when I’ll play a game that brings back memories of an old favourite I played when I was younger, and fall in love with it, partially because of that nostalgia. There are also movies that I have loved as a child and re-watched more recently, only to have been somewhat let-down by the cheesiness of the characters and the dialogue. The lack of high-def visuals can be a deterrent too. Computer games perform this way as well. Dusk is a nostalgic first-person shooter that had me reminiscing of games such as Doom and Quake. Unfortunately, for me, Dusk falls into the second category of nostalgia, the one where happy memories are better left as that... happy memories.
Dusk isn’t entirely bad though. After playing through the first couple of chapters, I found it an enjoyable game, filled with many of the aspects that made Doom and Quake fun. All the hallmarks of the 90’s classics are there: an open world setting that directs you down corridors full of enemies, a range of weapons that can be collected as you progress and med-packs and ammo scattered around the landscape. Combined with the dark polygonal visuals and a cool soundtrack, Dusk is a throwback to that era.
two modes – singleplayer and multiplayer
Being that the game is still in early access, the multiplayer servers are sparsely populated. When there is someone available to play against, the game plays out much like Quake, with players hopping around collecting weapons and ammo and scoring points for kills. But the main focus of the game is the singleplayer mode, which has a campaign and an 'Endless' mode, which pits you against ever-increasing waves of enemies. The campaign consists of three chapters, each with a dozen or so missions which have you moving in first-person through the haunting locations, killing enemies in order to survive to the exit point.
Gameplay is generally smooth, although a couple of clipping issues appeared throughout the game, as well as a couple of enemies that were able to walk through walls. Not a deal-breaker though. The levels are quite dark visually, but the level designs are varied, allowing the gamer to do some exploration in each of the locations, giving the added bonus of hidden collectibles. The collectibles are of no great consequence to the game, so that was a little disappointing. And although the game is fairly linear in its goal for each level, the areas are often reasonably open. Enemies vary to a small degree, but are generally quite easy to dispose of if you have enough ammo. The Boss battles are more fun and rewarding, although a couple were made far too easy (even on the harder levels) just by positioning yourself correctly. Like games of old, there is generally a simple pattern to most of the larger enemies which can be used to your advantage. Hiding behind a pole while you empty your ammo clips at the enemy was my go-to tactic, and worked on most occasions.
For those gamers who are familiar with Borderlands, Crysis, or even the action-packed Just Cause, Dusk will come as a bit of a visual shock. The graphics have an old-school shooter look to them, with dull colours and polygonal landscapes and characters. And while the game has a haunting feel in terms of characters and setting, I was never on the edge of my seat due to the visual style. Although the visuals are low-res and do little to build up the eerie feel, the audio is the complete opposite. The superb background music varies from one level to the next and will become darker and heavier whenever a major area is reached. The sound effects are similar to those you would expect from a 90's shooter, with shotgun blasts, explosions and the usual grunts from fallen enemies.
only for old-school shooters
Being that the game is primarily the work of one man is commendable, but although I did have fun with Dusk and it does most things right, it simply felt like a step back in time. Games have moved on from the days of polygonal visuals and simple run and gun gameplay. If you want to re-live the 90's, then certainly give Dusk a go, but for those of you with a penchant for more modern games, you might want to skip it.
The game has potential, but we're not ready to jump in with both feet. If the game interests you, look, but don't touch - yet.