How best to describe a game like Duskers..? It really is one of those games that is – in all terms of the word – unique.
Owing to the same vein as the hardcore rougelike, Duskers is the sort of game that approaches difficulty spikes the same way a flash game approaches horror; abruptly. You never know if the room on the other side of the next door is going to end your run in the blink of an eye, or grant you greater success…
It’s very much the sort of game that you crawl through, but that’s no slap on the wrist; it’s a game that works well with its slow pace. The premise is you arrive in a new system, only to find it uninhabited and in ruin; huge husks of derelict spaceships just hanging around everywhere. You start with a trio of drones that you take control of upon docking with any one of these dead ships – You must explore and gather resources such as scrap to repair equipment and systems, data logs to uncover story, and fuel to progress.
Fuel is absolutely needed and is a priority above all else, if you run out, you lose, simple as that. Set from a close, top-down perspective with graphics similar to the old games of the Commodore 64, everything is cast in fuzzy green, red or blue; things barely just outlined, with all the retro computer sounds for all sorts of things… But perhaps the most unique thing about the game is how you play it.
You can control each drone with the simple WASD, with Tab being to switch between them… But, if you want to do anything meaningful, you have to make use of the command prompt box. You have to type actual lines of simple code in order to do anything in this game, from opening and closing doors, to moving drones between rooms without piloting them directly; activating generators, switching airlocks, activating various Drone modules, gathering fuel and scrap. It’s all done through the command console in game.
Of course you are given a tutorial teaching you the simple things, but for anyone adverse in coding, you can imagine the fun you could have automating everything so it all goes off with the press of one button… However, Duskers is a rouge-like, and it’s a hard one. Sure the first small handful of ships you dock with and search are simple enough; a few rooms, nothing serious, a bad guy or two to avoid… But outside of that? All hell can break loose; surprise radiation leaks, airlock malfunctions, electrical hazards, fire… The more damaged the ship, the worse you’ll have it.
Ships can literally fall apart whilst you’re exploring, electrical malfunctions will slowly spread throughout a ship’s systems, which can lead to air lock malfunctions, fire will spread rampantly, radiation hazards will slowly fill the whole ship if uncontained… Even the hostile entities you encounter are nothing to just shrug off. “Oh, I’ll just go around it” isn’t an answer in this game. You can’t see ventilation shafts or grids, and you can’t see into every room from the offset. It employs a vision cone for your drones, as what they see is what you see. Behind every door could be death and failure. These hazards however can by bypassed by Drone Modules, however – Equip a Drone with an interface module so it can hack ship systems and turn on various security devices, or shut them down, no matter what room they’re in.
Equip a motion sensor to let a Drone scan the currently occupied room and all adjacent ones for anything unsavoury moving about. Equip a gathering module to pick things up, a tow cable to haul heavy equipment or other drones back to your ships airlock, so forth and so forth. You ship can even have Modules, allowing for remote power access, deep ship scans, and more.
I myself have not gotten too far into the game; I’ve failed a good few times by now, but I still keep coming back to it, just for its sheer uniqueness. It’s surprisingly atmospheric – The silence, the lack of any music or outside sounds other than the various subtle noises from the drones and the dead and empty ships… It’ll have you drawn in and on edge without you even realising it… If it’s your sort of game of course.
In summary Duskers is a delightful game that stands out among the overcrowded hard core rougelike genre. A sharp, callous gem of a game that code monkeys will probably excel at due to its mechanics.
In my opinion Duskers is a solid: