In a gaming generation that has seen old school-style titles surge in popularity and success, it’s only fitting that the 90s-style first-person shooters have their moment of glory too. And believe me, DUSK on the Nintendo Switch is absolutely glorious. Not only is this a brilliant first-person shooter that echoes the classics of yesteryear whilst also maintaining its own sense of identity, but it also just so happens to be a brilliant port that makes no sacrifices in order to perform perfectly on the console.
Believe me, shooting fans… you won’t want to miss out on this.
Check out a gallery of screenshots down below:
Like its forebearers, DUSK doesn’t throw its story in your face too much, though it’s easy to get a basic idea of what’s going on: cultists are causing chaos and it’s up to you to blast them to pieces. Ok, there’s a bit more to it than that and some neat environmental storytelling will help players piece things together, but this isn’t a narrative-heavy experience. You do get segments of text in-between each episode that push the story forward though, which is something that those looking for lore will probably appreciate.
Where DUSK does deliver is with its first-person shooting action, which is absolutely sublime from start to end. Taking inspiration from the likes of DOOM, Quake, and Hexen, DUSK features three episodes made up of eleven different levels (one of which is secret), with each level expansive in size and featuring platforming challenges, plenty of enemies to kill, and secrets to uncover.
Each episode brings with it an array of locales to explore, with each offering something a little different. Whilst I don’t want to spoil too much here, I will say that Episode One was my favourite; there was something about the rural farmlands that felt befitting of horror-shooting, whilst it also brought with it plenty of nasty surprises like scarecrows coming to life in cornfields or barns full of vicious creatures, as well as a surprising turn at the end. That being said, Episode Two and Episode Three bring with them plenty of unique and grotesque sights too, with DUSK certainly delivering when it comes to eerie level design.
“Episode One was my favourite; there was something about the rural farmlands that felt befitting of horror-shooting, whilst it also brought with it plenty of nasty surprises like scarecrows coming to life in cornfields or barns full of vicious creatures, as well as a surprising turn at the end.”
The gameplay is intense too, with a slick variety of weaponry really giving the player the upper hand over the seemingly endless foes coming their way. Whilst your pistol and shotguns can be satisfyingly dual-wielded, players are also armed with a super shotgun, a hunting rifle, a crossbow, and the riveter (which can also be used to rocket jump if shot correctly). It’s easy to flick between weapons on the fly thanks to the intuitive weapon wheel, whilst the power-ups that are scattered across levels will also help make you more powerful. Players can also find inanimate objects in levels that they can pick up and throw at enemies. Surprisingly, the most powerful option here is the bar of soap, which deals MASSIVE damage when thrown; If you manage to find one, make sure to put it to use…
All of the weapons are fun to use, whilst you’ll constantly find ammo to ensure you’re fully loaded and ready for whatever the game throws at you next. And believe me, there are some f*****g vicious baddies that’ll hunt you down, with levels often filling with projectiles heading your way. Whilst most enemies go down with minimal fuss early on, later episodes can be particularly challenging with their mixture of tougher foes and perilous hazards. One particular foe that stood out was the invisible creature that tries to slice away at your innards… you should listen when the game warns you ‘don’t go in the ruins’, folks. The bosses are even more brutal, with some slick platforming and accurate shooting required to take down these nasties – each showdown with them is brilliant and it’s always a treat to encounter them though, so you won’t mind too much. Just maybe take advantage of the game’s ‘quick save’ function regularly.
“DUSK does plenty of neat things that don’t only benefit the gameplay but also help ensure that the disturbing atmosphere never wanes, whilst the way that it always seems to have one more surprise that tops the last one never stopped being brilliant.”
It’s clear that DUSK gets everything right as far as its first-person shooting is concerned, but it also has this special *something* about it that helps it stand out. There’s a good balance of open and claustrophobic level design that fits both the horror vibe and the shooting action perfectly, there are unsettling whispers as you explore areas that will constantly remind you that you’re under threat, there are messages sprawled in blood across the walls that warn you of dangers ahead… DUSK gets so many little details right and it ensures players are ALWAYs kept on their toes. Heck, the fittingly named ‘Escher Labs’ even flip themselves around as you’re playing, making a maze-like level that defies gravity. DUSK does plenty of neat things that don’t only benefit the gameplay but also help ensure that the disturbing atmosphere never wanes, whilst the way that it always seems to have one more surprise that tops the last one never stopped being brilliant.
Add to that the excellent level design with a constant influx of enemies, the satisfying exploration as you uncover secrets or key cards (wouldn’t be an old-school shooter without key cards), or just the fact that the guns feel so damn good to use, and it becomes clear that DUSK is something special. Its use of 90s-style 3D visuals feels perfect too, whilst the hectic soundtrack by Andrew Hulshult is a perfect fit for all of the demonic action that’s taking place.
“The team at New Blood Interactive have done a brilliant job in porting the game, with a slick 60fps frame rate ensuring the action looks sublime throughout.”
Despite all of this, I know what you’re probably thinking: how can a first-person shooter like DUSK feel so good to play on the Nintendo Switch? Well, believe me, the team at New Blood Interactive have done a brilliant job in porting the game, with a slick 60fps frame rate ensuring the action looks sublime throughout. There are plenty of customisation options in place to change the appearance of the game too, whilst the gyro controls will be appreciated by those who like to use them (I’ve never been a fan). I’ve been using with my Hori Splitpad when playing handheld, and honestly, it feels fantastic.
I had a blast playing through DUSK, but its old-school setup does mean that it will probably only appeal to those who enjoy these kinds of games. If you’re not a fan of 90s-style shooters, its unlikely to convert you; instead, it feels like it’s made for players who are itching for more of this style of action. That’s not to say that you won’t enjoy the game if you never played the likes of Quake or DOOM and I’m sure first-person shooting fans in general will have PLENTY of fun with it; just know that if the idea of old-school shooting isn’t your thing, you might find yourself tiring of DUSK quite quickly.
Oh, and the rats are little annoying bastards. I hate them.
DUSK is an excellent first-person shooter that captures the vibe of the 90s classics perfectly, all whilst offering its own unique eerie escapade. With the brilliant level design, the frantic shooting action, and constant satisfying surprises, it kept me on the edge of my seat from start to end. The fact that it plays perfectly on the Nintendo Switch on both its handheld and docked modes is just the cherry on top.
If you’re a fan of old-school shooters and got the craving for more gib-busting action, you really, really, REALLY need to play DUSK. Believe me, you won’t regret it.
Developer: New Blood Interactive
Publisher: New Blood Interactive
Platform(s): Nintendo Switch (Reviewed), PC