‘Boomer shooters’ come in all different styles. There are games which lean more into the maneuverability of Quake and there are those that lean into the secret discovery and level design of Doom. Dusk incorporates both perfectly.
Granted, I love most boomer shooters; however, there are none that I would ever unequivocally say you should buy, as these are typically pretty niche titles.
But yeah, you should buy Dusk.
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Originally releasing in 2018 (and then releasing on Switch in 2021), Dusk is the best shooter I’ve ever played. It is the game that truly made me believe that indie devs were the future. There is no game that has ever made me believe something so vehemently.
Now that I’m done proselytizing, what is Dusk?
Dusk is a game in which you play a treasure hunter (naturally referred to outside of the game as ‘Dusk-dude’) who has been kidnapped by a cult and must kill ’em all. That’s all you get and that’s all you need.
Dusk is split into 3 episodes, each of which contains 11 levels (10 standard levels and 1 hidden level). Dusk is a masterclass in shooter design because while it includes 11 weapons, Quake style movement, and meta jokes galore, there are parts of the game which are still legitimately scary.
Dusk revels in building you up and breaking you down through gameplay. Throughout the first chapter, you’ll probably be pretty cocky as you barrel through level after level of unsuspecting cultists, but the game wastes no time in making you feel insignificant. In the second chapter the tone shifts from back-water hick cult to SCP government experiment/ containment. If you aren’t then thoroughly intimidated by this, Chapter 3 deals with straight up, eldritch hell.
Dusk giveth and Dusk taketh away. Despite going into a level with full health and armour, and max ammo for every available weapon, you’ll still be checking your corners and jumping at shadows.
There are 11 weapons in Dusk. Typically shooters, especially boomer shooters, have a similar number of weapons, though a few of them will almost always be useless. The pistol in most games comes to mind.
Dusk has no weak weapons. Sure, the pistol is weak, but if you find two, you can dual wield. Same goes for the basic shotgun. The rhythm at which dual wielded weapons fire in this game is just perfect; every shot feels impactful and perfectly timed. Dusk also has rocket jumping. For anyone who doesn’t know, that’s when you can use the propulsion of an explosion to fling yourself into the air.
Not only rocket jumping, but Dusk also has what I think is my favourite weapon in any shooter: the crossbow. Pretty standard on its face, but, aside from its eternally satisfying sound, its recoil and fire rate are so high that if you jump off of something and continuously fire it down, you can keep yourself airborne. This is 100% just for style, but that’s the name of the game once you get good enough. Why else would you be able to do a flip in the air by quickly turning the camera?
“Wow, the crossbow sounds nearly perfect, but surely it must have limited utility given all the enclosed spaces”, I here you say, but fear not! The crossbow can not only pierce multiple enemies, it can pierce walls, floors, and ceilings. Also, it can activate buttons. Never a huge use-case, but still pretty sweet.
So, anyway. Dusk also has the chunkiest, most satisfying weapons sounds I’ve ever heard. I wish I had the capacity to articulate what I mean, but I’ll just link this instead.
Never Before Have So Few Made So Much That’s So Rad
Aside from the campaign, Dusk also has an endless horde mode which can be played on 4 unique maps. Also, if you’re a completionist like me, you can collect every accolade on every level. These are given for either finding every secret, killing every enemy, killing no-one, or never taking damage during a level.
There is also a special toggle on the difficulty selector that makes the game more like a classic shooter where you keep nothing but your basic weapon between levels.
Dusk is stuffed with countless homages and references, but I just want to take a second to point out my absolute favourite. The cultists, which are present from the very start, will creepily chant as they come closer to you. These chants consist solely of classic shooter titles: “Heretic! Blood!”. It’s the accumulation of dozens of these little moments that keep this game engaging and interesting.
Dusk costs $24.99. I initially found this a little weird seeing as how when the Steam and Switch versions were released, they were a very spooky $16.66, but seeing as how this includes the PS4 version as well as the upcoming PS5 version, I suppose it tracks.
There’s also been an HD pack of Dusk that’s been in the works. This seems to be an earnest effort on the part of the dev and a jab at soulless companies doing half-hearted ‘remasters’ of old games which just ruin their original aesthetic style. Whichever one it actually ends up being, I’m here for it.
Presumably, this pack will be available outside of PC eventually, and maybe it’ll even be tossed in with the PS5 version seeing as how it costs a little more, but even if it isn’t, you CANNOT miss this game. It is as close to perfect as Tetris. To me, it has no equal.
- Pefect music
- Perfectly vague and eerie visuals
- Perfect feeling weapons
- Replete with secrets