Duskers Asks You To Isolate Yourself In Its Dead Universe
Duskers utilizes slow, methodical exploration with sudden moments of poignant anxiety. Your alone in a seemingly dead universe, bouncing from one derelict spaceship to the next. You have limited supplies and limited fuel pushing you to explore dead ships with malfunctioning drones to find anything useful and discover why the Universe is dead. But, it’s not really dead. There’s something out there. Hostiles you can’t see that keep disappearing and reappearing on your radar. They play tense game of cat and mouse with you as you try to salvage the means to keep on going.
The general feeling on the Internet is that Duskers takes inspiration from the schematics, computer terminals and radars found in the movies Alien and Aliens – playing off the tension from tracking unknown, dangerous entities as you – yourself try to explore a ship.
I’m enjoying Duskers’ mix of salvaging and problem-solving to get around hostiles while exploring. The biggest take-away I have though is how unlike many indie games these days are made. A good fifty percent or more of Duskers involves your commitment to the level of immersion it’s politely asking of you.
The game has 2 predominant viewpoints while on a ship: a vector-line schematic and a fuzzy, indistinct drone camera. You also get a command line interface. There’s a good deal of wiggle room in how you can operate drones. You can rely heavily on a command line interface to move from room to room, pick up scrap and interact with terminals, but you can also use direct control of drones to pilot them. Much of the time, it’s totally your preference how you wish to interact with the drones. There’s no strict enforcement, rewards or incentives to choosing one over the other.
Duskers also relies heavily on the ambient sounds of being inside a massive chunk of metal floating in deep space with the crackle of static coming over a comm. link. It’s a game that can more easily lose a lot of its charm by turning on the lights and turning off the sounds. But that’s also what kind of makes it charming to begin with. You probably could easily get away with listening to your favorite music while playing, without breaking the immersion.
Ultimately I feel it’s the immersion that’s a large focus of Duskers, and anything that destroys or plays off of that can potentially have an impact on enjoyment as much as or more than the mechanics and graphics in the game.
Some games immediately attract immersion-moths and that’s exactly why I went to the lengths I did when I recorded the video above. I heavily edited my narration to sound like I was speaking through a walky-talky or over a communications line.
Duskers is about constantly pushing yourself to explore ships and re-route hostiles, because you desperately need any and all scraps and fuel you can find. You have to stay ahead of the game with repairing and outfitting drones and refueling your ship to be able to go onto the next ship, ultimately in the hopes of discovering what happened to everyone.
It’s a fun enough game utilizing what the game gives you, but that may only carry you so far. There’s an invisible fifty percent of the game that is all about asking you to suspend your disbelief, stop demanding rules, stop looking for more game functions to spell-out what to do next and immerse yourself into Duskers.
I never stop enjoying all the indie games I get to discover on a daily basis. Duskers stands out among the masses, not because of its mechanics, but because it’s politely asking me to do more of the imaginary lifting and immerse myself.