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Duskers Review (PC)

By Jess Lishman Jun 30, 2016

  1. Jess Lishman

    Jess Lishman Member Writer Editor

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    Misfits Attic's game, Duskers, provides a unique and interesting experience. You are placed in command of a small fleet of salvage drones who make their home in the vast and empty chasm of space. The universe appears derelict and lifeless and you do not know why.

    With the initial objective of navigating your spaceship to derelict ships floating in the void and investigating their remains for salvage, fuel and other useful bits and pieces, you set out on your first mission and begin to gather the things you need to survive. The wider aim of the game is to piece together how the universe became the way it is as you travel through the desolate cosmos.

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    The overall objective is very simple, but the gameplay is executed in a way that sets Duskers apart from the pool of other quirky indie titles. The controls take a few minutes to adjust to as the majority of the actions are executed via a programming style input screen and it is generally easier to use the commands than actually using the arrow keys to move the drones. The commands are all relatively simple to remember and at the start there aren't too many for the player to look through, making the experience at the start easy to understand as you progress through the game. The tutorial is clear and provides the player with a concise breakdown of the core game mechanics.

    The drones you are provided with at the start each have different abilities and must be utilised correctly in order to get the most out of each mission. For example, not all drones have the ability to power generators, so drone that do have that ability must be allocated to fulfil its role in order to power the doors within each ship and allow the other drones to open those doors and explore each salvage mission fully. Other such abilities mean that not all drones can be used to explore the ship and when upgrades are applied to the drones they must be applied with this in mind. Other strategy elements appear in the form of 'infestations' on the ships that you investigate.

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    These infestations can be avoided fairly easily but some thought is required to effectively remove the threat. As the game develops and certain upgrades are required to be able to scan certain areas it becomes trickier to easily avoid these threats but the game does a good job of gently introducing you to the dangers. As you progress and travel to different systems different forms of infestation appear and in some cases the drones sensors may not pick up dangers. On one mission a drone I had was attacked and disabled when I opened a door to a room that had not shown up on the scanners as containing danger, so additional caution is often required and you can find yourself taking convoluted routes through the ship to siphon off danger into other rooms or simply avoid the room containing the threat.

    As you clear each system and travel to the next system you encounter other ship types. Some of these require certain upgrades in order to visit and if you haven't salvaged the correct upgrades during previous missions it will render some locations obsolete and 'un-visitable'. It also seems that the game does not let you re-visit places you've already been, which is a little irritating but not a deal breaker by any means.

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    Duskers is a game where one wrong decision will mean game over, but the RNG is not so punishing as to be frustrating. The scope for different upgrade paths on your drones is varied and the basic strategy elements mean that a slightly different thought process is required for each salvage mission meaning the gameplay does not become too repetitive. Having said that, the wider aim of the game, to discover what made the universe so desolate, is not quite compelling enough to drive to player to play for significant stints as despite the slight variation in missions, the game does still become somewhat repetitive after a while as all the missions have essentially the same objective.

    The graphics are simplistic but effective, with the game taking on a neon retro vibe and keeping with the overall theme of the game by making all the environments resemble a top down schematic. It feels as though it's designed to look like the computer screen of the console used to operate the drones and it achieves this well enough. At no point does Duskers feel like it's lacking graphically as each visual element of the game fits wonderfully and contributes to the overall atmosphere.

    Unfortunately there is no real soundtrack for the game but the sound design itself is adequate. The lack of a soundtrack is disappointing but it doesn't really impact the experience on the whole and the sounds within the game generally add to the element of suspense as you search each derelict ship.

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    The UI is well explained in the tutorial and easy to navigate. The only thing to get used to is that the mouse is not used at all. All menus are navigated using arrow keys and options are selected with various other keys. Upgrading drones and the ship is simple as is using the interface during missions. Overall the UI is well thought out.

    The game options menu is fairly standard and has a sufficient level of audio options considering audio in the game is relatively minimal. Windowed or fullscreen modes are available and both work perfectly well although, as always, the lack of a borderless window option is a little disappointing. Duskers does however feature a color blind mode, which is very nice to see.

    Duskers has been a very interesting experience so far and feels very unique in it's approach and atmosphere although not without it's faults. I will certainly be playing more of it.

    PDR received a press copy of the game from the developer.


    Gameplay
    Graphics
    Sound/Soundtrack




    Pros/Cons

    Effective graphics
    Good punishment mechanics
    Excellent controls
    Aimless story
    Repetitive missions
    No soundtrack
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 7, 2016

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