Last night I started playing a new game called Dusk, a first-person shooter which takes heavy influence from 90s classics like Quake and Doom. The concept didn’t really draw me in until I actually started playing it, but once I did, I found that it mimicked the retro shooters of yore so well I was up blasting enemies away well past my regular bedtime.
Dusk is named after the fictional Pennsylvanian town in which it’s set, where you – a treasure hunter known only as DuskDude – are captured by weird possessed townspeople while searching for mad loot. You break out and from there, wreak absolute 90s havoc on your captors and their mates.
Everything about Dusk reeks mostly of the original Quake, but also bits and pieces of Doom, and it absolutely whips ass. The low polygon design, simple colour palette, fast movement speed, colour-coded keys, and clustered enemies take me right back to the days before multiple objectives and linear corridors. Even the menus have that classic feel to them.
Shooters have come along way since the 90s, but something about the stripped back approach of yesterday feels so refreshing to see now. No following a compass to objectives or deciding whether the assault rifle you just knicked from an enemy was worth swapping your shotgun for, just fast-paced, no-bullshit blasting enemies away while you look for the exit.
But not everything about Dusk is old. It does introduce some modern elements to keep in line with what’s expected these days. For example, most shooters require you to reload, but as you probably remember, most of the titles back then didn’t. If you’re anything like me, hitting ‘R’ after killing a bunch of enemies is so ingrained into my brain it’s nigh on impossible to shake.
Hitting ‘R’ in Dusk will simply spin your weapon around, kinda like you’re reloading, but not. It’s a small thing, but I appreciate that it does something so I don’t feel like a fucking imbecile when I try to hopelessly reload for no reason.
Physics also adds a modern touch to gameplay, allowing you to pick up and stack boxes to get to secret locations or higher vantage points.
The level design in Dusk, while nostalgically simple, never seems to feel predictable and, at times, has even stunned me. There have been moments where I’ve audibly said “holy shit” to my computer monitor out of sheer surprise, and I’m nowhere near finished the game yet. From what I’ve read, it only seems to get better, weirder, and more interesting.
If you’re a fan of heavy music, the soundtrack is going to sack whack you straight into the pit, man. While there’s plenty of ambient creepiness throughout a lot of the levels, there will be moments where the heaviest fucking riffs assault your ears while you’re blasting jerks into gibs with dual shotguns. The first time this happened to me, I was powerless to stop the dirtiest stank face from overtaking me and to be honest, it ruled.
All of the classic weapons are available in Dusk and will stick with you once collected for the first time. There’s a double-barrelled shotgun, assault rifle, a rocket launcher-esque gun, and even the ability to dual wield some weapons.
While I’m told the campaign is quite short, I feel like I could quite easily go back and play it all again without feeling bored. There’s also a continuous survival mode and multiplayer, so there’s a bit to keep you busy for the very reasonable $28.95 price on Steam (on sale for $24.31 at the time of writing). It’s also available on the Nintendo Switch.
Long live the retro shooter.