Game review: Duskers – a creepy mission to seek and destroy, or else
A low-budget sci-fi/horror approach scores big-time with its a range of emotions that only an indie developer could fire up
The “last man on earth/in the universe” trope is a well-worn one in the gaming world, and countless releases over the years have mined its depths. Few have made things as minimalistic, though, or become as successful because of it as Duskers.
A simple black screen, a lone ship to explore wreckage and ruins, and a series of mindless drones to guide you, the game is as indie as things get. Available for PC, Mac and Linux, Duskers comes from developer Misfits Attic, best known for cult plumber puzzler A Virus Named TOM, and takes things to the next level by paring the concept down to a low-budget sci-fi/horror approach.
Much of that is built up through sheer mood, a foreboding sense of claustrophobia setting in as your drones search derelict ships and seemingly empty space stations, providing the player with nothing more than a glitchy video feed and unadorned sounds. When they find something – and trust me, they will – the video cuts out and ambient sounds creep all about, as things take a turn for the Alien.
Your options? Risk near-certain death and the end of the species by fighting them off, or run for it and lose a drone. It’s a challenging conundrum, one made harder considering your only interface is a basic command line which accepts programming-like language.
Think of it as real-time hacking, but without the debilitating limitations. On top of that, your equipment is constantly failing, your drones die out and your scanners are near-useless – pretty much like real-life.
I’m brave enough to admit that Duskers sent me through a fluster of emotions. It scared the living crap out of me, before frustrating me with its ridiculously difficult approach, while constantly keeping me intrigued through inventive gaming mechanics. It’s a range of reactions that could only happen through the imagination and endless creativity of an indie developer, and we wouldn’t have it any other way.