There’s a certain charm to the shooters of yesteryear.
That’s what indie publisher New Blood Interactive is trying to bring back, and it has just made Dusk available — a fast-paced, old-school FPS for PC gamers who like their glory to be plenty gory.
The first thing you’ll notice in Dusk is the screen’s 1:1 square configuration. There’s no tutorial — just jump in and start shooting things. It’s a pure, pixellated blast from the past with the goal of giving you all of the nostalgic joy you remember through those rose-tinted glasses without the frustrations we tend to gloss over.
There’s an assumption that games like Doom and Quake were popular purely because of their technical innovations. But if you can play them today and have fun (as many still do), then there’s no doubt their success is down to design as well as tech.
There’s a lot we’ve collectively learned about game design, and that shouldn’t just be thrown away. But while everyone else is hiding in a house and hoping for a chicken dinner to descend from the sky, there’s a place for a game where you carry weapons in double digits and throw grenades through teleporters.
‘Dusk’ is Fast
And I don’t just mean the speed of the game.
My PC is quite decent, but it’s been a long time since I felt like a game was running at a million frames per second. The designers have actually put in some modern effects here and there, but there is absolutely nothing holding this game back.
Playing it actually makes you realise how much input lag there is in other games. Everything happens instantly. Twitch shot to your heart’s content.
And yes, also, the pace of the game is much faster than we’re all used to these days. Part of that feeling comes from the mouse sensitivity being cranked up when you first start the game. Happily, Dusk has a plethora of options that PC gamers will be ecstatic over, even if most won’t get used.
I’m sure there’s some funky trick jumping that can be done with this crazy movement speed, though I haven’t worked out any kind of bunny hopping or rocket jumping yet. I have, however, been accessing different parts of maps just by being observant…
On The Level
While speaking to Dave Oshry about making old-school games in 2018, he mentioned that level design is both a strength of New Blood Interactive and a strength of the classics.
I’m inclined to agree. These are clearly levels you can master. Play over and over in different ways, discovering new tricks all the time. You can speedrun them. You can find all the secrets. I was content to find when I placed a barrel next to a corn maze, I could actually climb on top of the cornstalks (so retro) and peer down into the secrets of the maze.
So powerful I felt! Lord of all I surveyed! Until the scarecrow right in front of me started moving and whipped out a shotgun.
I certainly wouldn’t say it’s hard though — I haven’t died once yet, though I’m sure that’s coming. If you can strafe and aim, that’s good enough. If you want to really master it, the depth is there too.
Later on, New Blood will be releasing Amid Evil, which is an answer to Heretic in the way Dusk is a throwback to Quake or Doom. That’s looking pretty good too, and despite not garnering a huge amount of sales, this genre is actually quite blessed with options.
Our FPS Cup Runneth Over
It may not be the largest market, but we’re spoiled for choice.
I fancy myself as the type of gamer who looks forward. Always excited about the next thing, whether it’s a new design idea, technical innovation or graphical style. But these old-school games really get the basics right. I’ve had more fun in Dusk already than I had in the entirety of Call of Duty: WWII.