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Dusk Review: A Near-Perfect Retro FPS


Nergal
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The first-person shooter has changed a lot over the years, and 1990s classics like Quake look extremely different from slower-paced modern franchises such as Call of Duty. With a few notable exceptions, such as the fantastic return of DOOM in 2016, the FPS could feel genuinely sluggish in comparison to its spritely earlier form. Dusk, however, brings back the high speed, reflex-based gameplay of yore.

Even better, Dusk does so in style. Quite simply, this title is much more than just a throwback to a bygone age of gaming. Although its core frame is that of a 1990s first-person shooter, there are some clever design choices to subtly make it feel impressively modern, even with its old-school trappings.

For its main gameplay, Dusk will be familiar to those who played Unreal or Quake in the heyday of the twitch shooter. Combat is fast and frenetic, with genre staples such as strafe-shooting bosses, swarming enemies, and exploding gibs. To make it feel even more cosy for those who loved first-person shooters at their peak, Dusk also includes a spectacular metal soundtrack from Andrew Hulshult.
 
 

Thematically, Dusk fits in very well with games of the era, too. Calling back to the likes of Blood and Hexen, Dusk has major occult imagery throughout, with dark magic and a plot that revolves around a mysterious, evil cult. Meanwhile, its enemy character models give nods to some of the best horror has to offer, a melange of terror and gore akin to Splatterhouse and the darkest days of the moral panic over video game violence.

Dwelling too much on the nostalgic elements of Dusk is perhaps doing a disservice to just how well the game works in the modern day, however. Dusk builds well upon the key design choices of the classic FPS, and even slight tweaks such as giving players a hint when they have opened a new door makes things feel less obtuse than even the more playable examples of its heritage.

Part of what works best about Dusk is its care with regards to weapon design. There are some must-haves for a twitch FPS here, with dual-wield pistols and shotguns aplenty, but each weapon feels useful and unique in its own way, with some secondary weapon modes that allow users to switch up how they play through certain sections.
 
 

Another area where Dusk really excels is with the variety that it offers between levels. Whether it's industrial yards, gothic castles, or physics-bending institutes, Dusk provides a very nice change of scenery from level to level. Each part of the game feels distinct, and in this way Dusk feels closer to the Half-Life series than some of those shooters that came before it.

Overall, then, Dusk is a fantastic game. More than just a repeat of what has come before, Dusk is its own entity, taking what worked well about classics and boiling those aspects down into a frantic, concentrated burst of action. A wonderful homage to the era where the FPS was king.

Dusk is out now for PC.

 
OUR RATING:
4 out of 5 (Excellent)
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