Released in 2018, DUSK combines everything the best shooters of the 90's had to offer, and puts them into one game for the sake of nostalgia. If you played Quake, you know how fun it was to go over to your friend's house just to wreck some noobs in Bloodrun. However, DUSK does not try to be an exact replica of ancient shooters - it is an improvement over them, without at all destroying the magic and remains, throughout the levels, a stylish “old school” FPS.
The DOS boot screen, the sloppy menu, and the interface that references old games - when the developers of modern games try to revive nostalgic memories, there is always a chance that some kind of tasteless features will be added. However, this is not the case with DUSK, David Szymanski did an amazing job developing the game that would closely replicate childhood legends: Quake, Blood, Heretic, Hexen, Half-Life and Redneck Rampage.
Armed with two sickles, the main character finds himself in a dungeon. The room is absolutely tiny, you don't have real weapons, and then you notice three guys running at you with chainsaws. At this moment you realize - you don't stand still in DUSK. It's actually quite the contrary: the more you move, the smaller the chances of getting torn apart by spooky creatures. This shooter is a definition of "fast-paced".
As you progress, you notice that there are a lot of secrets and references in the game. If you're willing to spend some time, you will eventually stumble upon a shotgun hidden inside of a wall, which helps you greatly throughout the game.
Eventually you find more and more weaponry, which you can sometimes even dual-wield. The game makes you feel powerful, always giving you better weapons which never get boring because you need to constantly swap them out.
The level design in the campaigns, which there are a total 3 of, is stellar.
The task is almost always the same - get to the exit, collecting key cards along the way. But oh boy, is the way to the exit never the same. You will find yourself going from corn fields to dungeons and from factories to alternate realities. The movement to get around the map is also a little more modernised than the games it replicates - you can crawl through tunnels, tackle, bend, sneak, run and jump. You also move very quickly and fluidly.
You can also throw and move objects around, and there are often weapons hidden behind such objects.
The graphics, as can be seen in the pictures, are purposely old-school, pixely, flat and the enemies have slow animations because that's how it was in the 90's. The story is nonexistent, with you just going through different scenery and protecting yourself from flesh-hungry monsters (and sometimes rednecks).
The atmosphere is sinister and uncomfortable, always keeping you on the edge of your chair. Monsters jump out after you round a corner, and even when they don't, you're afraid they will. The audio and the growling, rustles and sighs also are high quality and make you always feel discomforted and aware. The soundtrack helps - being rock music that kind of helps release the pressure.
The game mechanics and the shooting is very polished, the detail to levels and AI is also a welcome change; for example, enemies behave accordingly to what weapon they are using, there are many creatures to kill: from demon-obsessed cultists, farmers, soldiers, skeletons to humans, each of whom will have their own traits and weaknesses, making you change weapons depending on what you're dealing with. The animations are a bit rigid, but well done. They're almost old-school, but at the same time a lot more smooth and appealing to the eye. The levels have secret passages you can take, which appeals the most to speedrunners. It's nice that games think about their community, as it's beneficial for both the game and the players.
On the other hand, the game does come with minor flaws - the multiplayer mode is a bit repetitive, it just being you running around the map shooting others and consuming firs-aid kits. It isn't bad, but is not particularly outstanding either. The same can be said for the Survival Mode, in which you hold off against hordes of monsters coming to get you. It's fun at first, but it doesn't top the campaigns at all.
The boss fights are also sometimes tedious, especially if you don't have any rockets left over for your rocket launcher, since the bosses have TONS of health and will not go down quickly without explosives. Some fights are fun, but some are just stretched out rinse and repeats.
The game is fairly expensive - going for 16.99€ per copy on Steam. Interestingly enough, it can only be played on Windows, however I'm sure than can be easily be bypassed by a virtual machine.
DUSK is a prime example that a great game does not always need some fancy graphics and dozens of developers. It's developer, David Szymanski, is clearly nostalgic and wanted to re-create something like Doom, Duke Nukem or Quake, in which he succeeded.
New Blood Interactive, the publisher of the game, really didn't go wrong with releasing it. With over 200,000 copies sold, the game is an absolute gift to retro game lovers and people that want to relive the glory of 90's shooters, when they were at their prime.
Verdict: an indefinite and big yes from me, especially if you've played and liked the 90's icons. While the price (17 euro) is a big high, it is reasonable, as all the work was done by one person, and came out as a total masterpiece.
Intense and fast-paced gameplay, old-school graphics, great levels and soundtrack - what else is there to ask for?