Grungy retro FPS Dusk hits Early Access on January 11th

Dusk

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.

12 Comments

  1. HiroTheProtagonist says:

    On the one hand, this seems like it would be good to scratch my retro FPS itch, but at the same time STRAFE was a general letdown and Devil Daggers didn’t impress me. I’ll be waiting until Early Access is finished to consider buying in.

    • Dominic Tarason says:

      It’s definitely far, far closer to the classic retro ideal than Strafe. There’s plenty of streams of people playing through the entire first episode as well.

      It’s a little bouncier and twitchier than Quake 1 with slightly more open level design (for the most part) but it’s definitely scratching that itch for me so far.

    • Minglefingler says:

      I’ve not played Strafe or Devil Daggers but Dusk definitely nails the retro fps feel. I had a lot of fun with the first episode, I’m going to try to stay away from the second until the full game is done but I have low expectations of being able to hold out. If 90s shooters are your thing I doubt that the game will disappoint.

    • BeardyHat says:

      Fortunately, it’s nothing like either.

      I’ve become an old man now, wife, child, etc. I usually play slow, lopey, turn based games now, but DUSK rekindles my teenage years in a way no game has. I generally avoid skill based or fast paced games these days, but DUSK flicks a switch in my head that brings me right back to my twitchy teenage years playing Quake.

      I haven’t played a competitive, fast paced multiplayer game in years, but I’m so excited to play some DUSK multiplayer when it finally releases.

  2. stringerdell says:

    As someone that still constantly plays Doom this looks pretty great, will be picking it up once it’s done for sure

  3. Prism Sauce says:

    You get Episodes 1 + 2 with a preorder, and the title that shows in chrome is wrong (says “Dust” instead of “DUSK”). The game is nothing like Strafe, minus being an old-school inspired FPS. Otherwise, nice article.

    The game is excellent in my opinion, and most of the community is too. The game is being developed and marketed by a handful of people, who are very, very active in the community. It’s a game made with love, and it’s gonna be great.

  4. Crafter says:

    I generally love retro aesthetics but this looks pretty meh IMO.

    I might just replay blood instead.

  5. whoknows says:

    Chances are this multiplayer will die weeks after debuting, like every FPS that isn’t Overwatch.

    • April March says:

      An indie multiplayer FPS’ chances are indeed slim, but as a Doomclone that’s walking just close enough to the springs it drinks from I’d say that if there’s a game that has a chance it’s this one.

  6. PlKupo says:

    Just bought this purely on impulse (a first for me) and I can certainly say it’s worth every cent. The multiplayer trailer doesn’t really do a lot of justice to the singleplayer bits.

    Feels awesome to play, as you would expect from a game of this sort done proper. Level design is quite varied, a pleasant flow of open ended areas interleaved with tighter spaces. Also, plenty of little details, secrets and interactable things.

    The graphics look spot-on for me, basically late 90’s 3D with some small but sensible refinements. There are also some fun options to adjust the “retroness”.

    It’s really a lot fun, well polished and free of bugs. The first episode is a little easy but quite entertaining nonetheless. The fact that they plan to add support for mods and maps with Quake’s format allows for a lot of interesting possibilities.

  7. jdgonzo82 says:

    I’ve always liked the look of this game, they seem to be taking their time and know what they want. BUT the release schedule is off-putting to me. I’ll be buying this when it’s done. Early access, for me, has ruined so many games due to being able to play them in an unfinished state. Dead Cells is a great example. I put 40 hours into that and it’s not even done yet but I’m already bored with it…any new updates rarely inspire me to load it back up again so…I’ll be patient and wait…

  8. RandyBacon says:

    I was reading “Strife” throughout the article, then it dawned on me that we were talking about 90’s FPS _inspired_ games.
    Am I the only one that misses that claustrogothic feel of the original Quake? It’s something that I haven’t seen since, except maybe in Doom 3’s Hell levels.
    Not judging Dusk, haven’t played it yet. And I’m fast to commend an indie team that’s passionate and engages with the community.