Everything old is new again. At least that’s what the current wave of retro-inspired indie games makes you believe. While there have been many games released over the past decade that have completely adopted the ’80s visual aesthetic with great 8, 16, and 32-bit graphics, it came as a surprise to me that the era of the leap to 3D still lingered something untouched. But of course the thirty year cycle will spin forever, and it seems like it marks the beginning of a new era of retro revival. It turns out that DUSK’s attempt to revive traditional DOOM and Quake deserves to be noticed and played. The Switch version certainly does not cut off here and makes DUSK the October highlight of this year.
DUSK consists of three campaign chapters that follow the story of a lonely character fighting a satanic cult. While the story beats aren’t obviously written out, the setup allows for plenty of creative weapons, enemies, obstacles, and areas in which to battle hordes of cultists. The game looks and plays like a classic 3D shooter like Quake, with quick movements and the ability to shoot and jump at the same time. The graphics style is similar to a 90s PSX or 3D Windows PC game, which gives it a fresh look compared to modern shooter games. You can even adjust the pixel density so that it looks almost like an N64 or pixelated Game Boy title.
While the levels are big and give you lots of incentives to find secrets or kill all enemies, it’s the movement that just feels awesome. Classic skills like rabbit hop work great and give you a good feel for the river that rewards getting up close and personal with enemies. Firing shotguns, shooting exploding grenades, or going to town with double sickles, every weapon feels good and you are encouraged to switch weapons frequently by finding certain types of ammunition or power-ups. From the possibility of climbing an infinite number of walls or unleashing an uninterrupted spherical wave, I was always addicted to this experience, even if a run didn’t end particularly well for me. The absolutely phenomenal score only complements that feeling. The slowly rising tension in the soundtrack explodes with heavy guitars and metal rock to a crescendo that goes so well with blowing up bad guys.
Perhaps the best part is that the Switch absolutely does the job here. It almost made me think that the developers used a real blood sacrifice to get it working because the Switch port doesn’t disappoint: from its locked 60 FPS in both handheld and dock modes to his own Plenty of options. There’s a field of view slider that goes up to 150 and support for motion targets that can be toggled and adjusted in many ways. HD Rumble helps a lot here too. Load times are fast and I haven’t encountered any crashes or problems while playing. It’s an outlier and a standard in that regard that hopefully other indie games will follow.
If there’s one negative thing about DUSK, it’s that the core structure and nature of the gameplay gets pretty repetitive over time. With that in mind, it’s still a classic FPS boomer shooter. You will pick up keys and access certain doors after killing a number of enemies. I would honestly advise players to play the game a few levels per night as it can be very similar when played all at once. That said, the game is still a lot of fun to storm your way through, and for the real hardcore gamers out there, the increased difficulty modes are a great way to test all of your skills.
The arrival of DUSK on Switch was a long time coming. But I’m honestly relieved that the creator took the time to grind and sharpen every little corner of DUSK for its Switch debut. It feels like a game that should be played on Nintendo’s console and uses its retro inspirations to breathe new life into this particular genre of games. If you ask me, it’s the beginning of a new dawn.