Have You Played… Duskers?

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.

9 Comments

  1. Kefren says:

    Currently 25% off on GOG. link to gog.com

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    Ben King says:

    Duskers is number one on my wishlist for PC- I may have to do the GOG sale, but I also just blew $10 on a ps4 title called BOUND last night (mo-cap ballerina adventure looks like nothing else out there) so I’m not sure when I’m gonna buy more stuff…

  3. Sin Vega says:

    I’d have loved this if it wasn’t a roguelike.

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    DelrueOfDetroit says:

    I did and while I really enjoyed it I stopped playing after only a few hours. The problem was the fact that every time you went into a spaceship you were basically on a timer until some space debris would hit the ship. It was unrealistic and just annoying, preventing you from making any progress. I should still give it another go.

  5. poliovaccine says:

    Yeah, gave it a try after the favorable writeup it got on this site. Definitely enjoyed it for what it is – funny though, I never properly registered it as a “roguelike” because the nature of how I’d play was always to keep pushing ahead and taking risks til I met my own end – I never really reached any point when I wanted to save and quit. I always just kept going, I suppose I assumed it autosaved on exit but I’d never survive longer than the extent of my doomed curiosity haha. Surprising for me too, since I don’t generally go for this type of game. For comparison, FTL only held my interest maybe an hour before I got bored with what it could do. Duskers isnt any more complex, arguably less so even, but I guess the atmosphere just served me better. The command line and digital heat-readout contribute a lot to the idea of authenticity, that if this were a real life scenario, this might be exactly what it looked like.

    Also, I think it definitely helped that I was really into Alien: Isolation at the time, and playing Duskers let me feel like I was some grunt on an offworld mining contract or something who might easily work or do the occasional bid on ships/stations just like the Nostromo/Sevastopol. Purely connected by aesthetics but there you go.

  6. second_hand_virgin says:

    Scared more shit from me than Alien: Isolation and it’s working exclusively on scary sounds. On some serious audiophile hi-fi this game may induce heart attack. Best indie game this boring year (except Oxenfree).

  7. Barberetti says:

    Yep, great little game.

    Also has the added bonus that the background hum works as good noise cancellation for the shitty music my neighbour used to play.

  8. Jalan says:

    Did, did not enjoy it. It’s (in the small bubble I live in, at least) one of two games released this year that gets talked up a bit more flatteringly than it deserves (the other, for the 0 people curious, is Layers of Fear).

    But I can’t consider it a “bad” game, it has a unique-ish look/style to it and it has (although it kept me less enthralled than most, apparently) a neat gimmick with its programming commands. The rest of it just doesn’t hit the mark for me – it’s not the big spookfest in derelict space many tout it as (and I’m not jaded to the point where I believe nothing scares me) and the roguelike nature of it really holds it back from becoming something amazing (to me, at least).

  9. nil says:

    Best game in the very small genre ‘gdb meets Aliens.’ “Is this a stand-up fight, sir, or another bug hunt?”