I didn’t know what to expect when I fired up Duskers for the first time. I received the review code for this game last week and hadn’t heard about it prior to then to be completely honest, though I had heard of Misfits Attic and their previous title, A Virus Named Tom.
I think this is one of the reasons I’ve enjoyed Duskers so much in the time I’ve spent with it. Going in blind put me in exact situation I should have been: Lost, confused, and at the mercy of only what four little drones could tell me.
Coming out of Early Access and launching it’s v1.0 today, Duskers is tense and atmospheric, forcing you to explore and react one step removed, as you’re only able to act through console commands to your drones and to the derelict ships you’re exploring.
Game Version: Final / PC – Available on Steam/GoG/Humble Store/Widget
Review Copy: Provided by Developer
Interface: Keyboard & Mouse
You’ll get drawn in to Duskers incredibly quickly thanks to how completely it sells the situation and role you are dropped in to: You wake up on a spaceship, your fuel is critically low, and there are no ships responding to distress calls. In fact, the only ships you can locate are floating in space; no crew, no power. So, it’s time to salvage, find fuel and spare parts and keep moving, trying to figure out what happened to leave so many ghosts in the blackness of space.
Your exploration of these ships is done through drones, of which you can launch four during each mission. Each drone can be equipped with three different modules. These modules determine what actions these robots can complete; gathering scrap, powering generators, or prying open un-powered doors. Duskers becomes a sort of micro management simulator at times, and I mean that in the best way possible. You have four drones, each with their own set of abilities, and your task is to make sure the right drone is in the right place at the right time. Which drone do you send in to scavage parts? Do you take generator drone away from the power source to drag a damaged drone back to your ship? When do you move that drone using its motion senor to detect life forms or enemies.
Oh, yeah, by the way: You’re not alone.
On these ships are hostile robots, and…something else. I’m not even sure what the things that leap out of the blackness are, but they’re scary and they’ve made me mistype “navigate” more times than I ever thought I would. I audibly screamed more than once at Duskers, and it is quite frankly the most tense and horrifying game that I have played which I, at the same time, haven’t wanted to put down. Part of this is due to the brilliant decision to, in many ways, tie your hands behind your back.
All actions in Duskers are performed via a command line, combining an action, a drone number and a location. It’s an incredibly thematic mechanic, and takes a bit of getting use to. While there are not a huge number of commands to memorize, you will be referring to the in-game (or retro print out) manual for the first few boarding missions. The brilliance of this mechanic is that you cannot react immediately. If a space-beast leaps out at you, it’s pretty hard to type ” navigate 1 r1″ correctly and input it before your little robot has been ripped to shreds, blocking a bulkhead doorway from closing when you frantically type “d12”. Then, you start sweating realizing that open door is now a direct pathway to every one of your other 3 drones on the ship…
Duskers definitely has a heavily element of RNG. It is a rogue like, and certain modules for your drones are almost necessary to successfully salvage a ship. This can lead to impossible situations, or finding exactly what you need when you need it. It’s an aspect of this kind of game that some people will despise, but I personally thought was appropriate and added to the atmosphere and tension.
Duskers is a tense, atmospheric horror game that any fan of 80’s science fiction needs to play. Your reliance on technology, limited by your own human ability to type correctly under pressure results in an experience that reaches a level of immersion few other games approach.
Now, excuse me…*gulp*
>navigate 1 r2