Update: To clarify, if you buy the game now you’ll receive access to episode 1 & 2 immediately, although the episode 2 launch isn’t officially happening until January 11th, when everything moves to Early Access.
Between Devil Daggers, Strafe, and the seeming eternal renaissance of Quake & Doom modding, it feels like gaming as a whole has come to terms with the idea that 90s FPS design wasn’t an evolutionary point that we’ve moved past so much as its own genre, which many are still experimenting with to this day.
One of the most promising of this fresh wave of neo-retro shooters is Dusk from solo developer David Szymanski and published by New Blood Interactive. The game had already impressed many critics with its first episode (available to play now if you preorder), and as of January 11th, the second act of the game will officially launch as the game transitions into Early Access.
Having played several preview builds of the game leading up to this point, Dusk feels like a blend of Quake 1, Blood and Doom. Not quite replicating the feel of any one game, but picking many of the most exciting elements from each. It’s a fast-paced, twitchy thing where enemies hit hard and mobility is the only road to survival, thanks to enemies exclusively using solid projectile attacks.
While I’ve not had the opportunity to play through it completely yet, the second episode of Dusk really cranks up the intensity. Enemy density in particular rises to Doom-esque levels, with bullet-spraying soldier and fireball launching pyromaniac enemies (roughly equivalent to Doom’s zombies and imps, respectively) being deployed by the bucketload from the very first scene.
It feels like the escalation from the shareware episodes of Doom to the final game, with the first act of the game offering a gentle introduction to its systems and monsters and slowly escalating odds, only for the difficulty to spike sharply the moment you begin the ‘registered’ levels. It feels a little odd to see that repeated in a modern game, but given that Dusk opens with a faux-DOS boot screen, it feels authentic enough.
New Blood’s plan for Dusk is simple enough – the game will officially become Early Access on January 11th, but retain its present £15/$20 price-tag. This will get you access to the first two (or three) episodes of the game, as well as full access to Duskworld, the online multiplayer component. Sometime later in 2018 (not too far off, according to the developer), the game will launch its third episode alongside its official modding suite, known as Dawn, leaving the door open for the community to produce new levels and episodes as they please.
Dusk is available to preorder now via Steam for £15/$20, although this will only get you access to the first episode at present. The price will not change between now, the beginning of Early Access or at launch, regular release discounts aside.