Reviews - Updated on April 10, 2022

“The story in a video game is like the story in a porn movie: you expect to see it there, but it’s not that important,” John Carmack, programmer of Wolfenstein 3D, Doom and Quake, once said such famous words. The developer DUSK seemed to make this statement his motto and invited players to return to the days when shooters were not overloaded with dialogues, videos and pumping – they were fun to spend time shooting monsters and jumping from one wall to another.

modern antiques

DUSK combines all the best that the shooters of the 90s had to offer so well that it is somehow pointless to return to them for the sake of nostalgia. If you have ever played the same Quake, exchanged a distribution kit with friends or went to visit classmates for it, you probably remember it completely different from what it really is. Therefore, DUSK does not try to seem like an exact copy of the ancient shooters – it makes them better, without destroying the magic at all and remaining throughout the passage of the stylish “old school” shooter.

A DOS boot screen, sloppy menus, and an interface reminiscent of those games – when modern game developers try to evoke nostalgia, there is always a chance that some kind of bad taste will turn out. But here everything is done as if Carmack himself got access to later technologies 20 years ago, created the coolest shooter, but did not tell anyone about it – and only now this game was discovered by someone and released on Steam.

Armed with two sickles, the protagonist finds himself in a dungeon. The room is quite tiny, there is nothing to shoot from, and three farmers are running towards us with bags on their heads and chainsaws in their hands. Already at this moment you begin to understand what lies ahead for you – in DUSK you don’t want to stand still, and the game doesn’t encourage this in any way. On the contrary, the faster you move, the less chance of catching a bullet or a magic projectile.

As soon as you deal with the farmers and study the walls, you suddenly notice the first secret – a hidden pistol. If you know that he is there, fighting the crazed rednecks will be a little easier.

Dusk game review

To meet such creatures in a dark corridor is not very pleasant.

After that, the arsenal continues to grow: after a couple of minutes, the hero is already holding two pistols, then he finds a shotgun, then another shotgun (you can also shoot from them with two hands). DUSK makes you feel like a mighty action superhero who never reloads his weapon, and if you still press the R key, the protagonist will spectacularly scroll the gun on his finger and go on. Later, he will get a rifle, and a bow, and a grenade launcher with a rocket launcher – he definitely won’t be bored.

The level design in the game deserves special praise. The task is almost always the same – to get to the final, collecting key cards of different colors along the way. But how many different locations are there! It all starts on creepy farms with cornfields and barns, continues in an industrial zone, and ends in some kind of hell in an alternate reality. Either the character finds himself in a large open location, then he is transferred to laboratories connected by corridors, then he falls underground and makes his way through the tunnels with a flashlight in his teeth, which can cause claustrophobia even for those who have never encountered it before.

The atmosphere in DUSK is sinister and even uncomfortable. There are no monsters jumping out from around the corner and other nonsense – unpleasant sensations also arise in those moments when nothing happens, and the player is trying to find the next key or find the next door. Frightening rustles and sighs, fearful opponents and visual design in general, if not chilling the soul, like horror films, then at least in some episodes they make you feel uncomfortable. Especially when, towards the middle of the game, invisible enemies begin to appear, leaving bloody footprints on the floor.

Dusk game review

Come on, don’t be shy!

No time for stops

But forget about the environment and the atmosphere – the main thing is to know how good the gameplay itself is here. And he is devilishly good, and even the most ardent fans of “old school” shooters who do not recognize this kind of “abuse” of the classics are unlikely to find fault with something. The character moves very quickly, the “jump” and “rocketjump” work exactly as you expect from them, and if necessary, you can not only move while crouching, but also make slides. Not only that, in DUSK you can push some objects or pick them up to throw them at opponents or move them to another place. Boxes, barrels and other junk will surely come in handy for those who like to explore every corner in search of secrets (and they are found here at every level).

The shooting itself is no less magnificent – if you study secret locations, you can get access to powerful weapons long before they are given out according to the “plot”. Among the enemies there are demon-possessed cultists, farmers, soldiers, skeletons and many other people and creatures, to each of which over time you will find the right approach and will quickly switch between guns to quickly deal with them. It’s hard to call their design as memorable as in the same Doom, but the way they address a character in an unknown language or pronounce “heretic” and “infidel” in English will stick in your head for a long time.

When there are 10 or more opponents on the screen, instead of terrible sighs and creaks, heavy metal performed by Andrew Hulshult begins to sound. Previously, he wrote music for Brutal Doom and Quake Champions, that is, he is familiar with such shooters firsthand. The compositions are bright and sometimes so elegantly combined with the shooting of cultists and running around from side to side that sometimes the soundtrack seems to be more groovy and high-quality than in 2016 DOOM. And then, when everyone is defeated and the hero again wanders through the fields and corridors, a barely audible ambient turns on or the music stops altogether.

Dusk game review

Of course, we will not follow the advice.

DUSK can be praised endlessly, constantly finding new pluses in it. Enemies behave differently depending on the weapon in their hands, great lighting makes the locations more atmospheric, soldiers and monsters beautifully fly back after death or even shatter into pieces. At the end of the level, the passage time, the number of enemies killed and the number of secrets discovered are shown – for those who want to do “speedrunning” or once again study all the locations for invisible buttons and walls through which you can go.

Probably the only disadvantage of DUSK is associated with the “bosses” – it’s not always fun to shoot at these creatures with a huge supply of lives for a long time. But in the presence of a rocket launcher, it is almost always possible to quickly destroy them.

Not entirely successful can be called a multiplayer mode. It’s not bad, it’s just the most ordinary and uncomplicated fight to the death, in which you are unlikely to linger for a long time. You can go into it from time to time – the maps here are relatively spacious, and there are enough weapons and first-aid kits on them to run and have fun just like in a single player campaign. However, in the new DOOM, that here the online mode seems to be just a small bonus, and therefore it will not spoil the impression, but it will not surprise either – it simply exists. The storyline (if you can call it that) includes three dozen different levels, and they are quite enough to regret the 419 rubles spent on Steam.

Not so often in shooters they let you shoot from two shotguns.

***

DUSK once again confirms that a great game does not always need fancy graphics and dozens of developers. Its creator David Szymanski is clearly in love with Doom, Quake, Duke Nukem, Heretic, Hexen, Blood and other classic games and wanted to offer the audience something similar. As a result, DUSK is very similar not so much to these masterpieces as to our memories of them. And if the author really wanted to achieve such a result, it remains only to congratulate him on his success – the next STRAFE, fortunately, did not work out.

Pros: a gift for fans of classic shooters of the 90s; well-thought-out design of all levels without exception; powerful arsenal and high mobility of the protagonist; creepy atmosphere; great heavy soundtrack during gunfights and generally high quality sound design.

Cons: it takes a long time to shoot the “bosses” without a rocket launcher; you can ignore the multiplayer.

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