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Have You Played... Duskers?

Explore derelict spaceships with a squad of chirping robots

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Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.

I tend not to like games with obtuse interfaces, even those which have chosen those interfaces for deliberate affect. Duskers is that rare exception. You use a command line-stlye interface to control a small fleet of robots in order to explore and scavenge derelict spaceships.

The command line interface is just one stylistic flourish which sells this flourish. The other, most prominent, is the fuzzy, heat scanner-esque view you have of your robots as you steer them about the ships. Together these two things do a wonderful job of creating a sense of this world, of creeping dread and creepy spaceships full of creepy aliens.

Your job on these spaceships is to use the command line to steer your droids, while also disabling turrets, opening and locking doors, and otherwise making sure nothing unexpected happens to your machinery. If something does, you can use another of your machines to drag its broken carcass back towards the airlock, perhaps so you can repair it, and you’ll find other half-broken droids the same way to expand your roster. It’s remarkable how attached you’ll become to these little units, who you can name and who make different bleep-bloop sounds.

As well as the compelling loop of improving your tools so you can explore more ships, exploration also fills out the story of this world, and where exactly all the people went. Excellent on every level.

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Graham Smith

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