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Review: Dusk (PC – Steam) ~ Spinning Guns

headerSteam store page

I think I’m unable to hide the fact that I love playing retro-style shooters. I love the fact that a lot of new games are coming out in the genre since I like the genre quite a lot. I’m also crossing my fingers that no overload will occur. But, in any case, I think it’s high time to introduce the game I’m going to take a look at today. It’s name is Dusk, developed by New Blood Interactive. And let me tell you, I have set the bar quite high for since game since the producer of this game was the director of the Rise of the Traid (2013) reboot. Well, let’s get into the town of Dusk at dusk to shoot some monsters. But before we do that, I want to invite you to write a comment with your thoughts on the game and/or the content of this article in the comment section down below.

Editorial note: this review has been written after the Dusk Halloween 2020 update. 

Spinning guns

DUSK-GameplayMost of the story of this game is told through the environment. Yet, some details are told the DLC comic. Let me give you the gist of it. This game takes place in the fictional rural town Dusk, Pennsylvania. A huge network of ruins are discovered underneath the town. Those who were researching these tunnels got possessed and it’s up to you, DuskDude, to save the town from destruction. Yet, you are a treasure hunter and you want the riches that are rumored to be hidden in the town.

The influence of the original Doom is quite clear. In terms of story, this game takes the Doom story/setting and puts an Lovecraftian spin on it. I could talk more in-depth on the story but I want to keep this review as spoiler free as possible. The only thing I’ll say is that the story is an amazing homage to several famous horror movies and amazing shooters.

Now, let me tell you. If you expect a deep story with a lot of lore… I think you might have to look elsewhere. Don’t get me wrong, the story and setting is extremely well done but this game focuses more on the gameplay and creating unique scenario’s then on telling a deep story.

Something that’s quite interesting to note is that there is some voice acting in this game. Something that surprised me is that the voice actor for this game is the legendary Andrew Hulshult and he is also the composer for this game. I heard his work before in Nightmare Reaper and now I have the pleasure to hear more work of his. But more about the soundtrack later. The voice acting that Andrew did in this game is amazing. You can feel that he leaned into the role and made the characters come alive.

While the story doesn’t have a lot of depth, the voice acting and the pacing the story was able to draw me in. Something that this story does quite well is that giving you the smallest amount of details that are enough to let your mind wonder and fill in the details and the rest of the story yourself.

Anyways, I have been rambling a lot about the story for now. I think it’s high time to talk about the gameplay. Is this game fun to play with a DuskDude that doesn’t have to reload his guns and spins them when you reload them.

The running slide

950313-dusk-windows-screenshot-fighting-an-enemy-in-the-fields-earlyYour goal in this game is to get to the ending of the level without dying. In order to do that, you have several weapons at your disposal. You start off with the sickles, these are your melee weapon if you are out of ammo. In my playthrough, I rarely used these. I found that they weren’t effective enough to conquer the various amount of enemies in this game.

Before I continue to talk about the weapons, I want to mention the cigar. This is an item that’s in your inventory at all time and you can use it to slowly recover health. I discovered that fact through researching this game. So, rest assured, this game can be beaten without the use of the cigar. To be honest, it’s annoying to use since it’s slow and has a cool down, which is a good thing mind you. Image having a health pack to quickly heal you, on you at all times. That would break the difficulty curve so fast.

Anyways, the weapon selection in this game has your standard pistol, shotgun, assault rifle, hunting rifle and rocket launcher guns. There are two types of shotguns and rocket launchers. On top of that, there is also a sword and a crossbow in this game. Managing these weapons and deciding when the use them is the biggest mechanic of this game. Also, don’t forget that DuskDude can pick up items that you help you to save ammo. Also, some items may be stronger then you think. 

So, you can fight your enemies by shooting or throwing stuff at them. Earlier I talked about the fact that you can spin your weapons. Hitting your enemies with a spinning weapon does ten points of damage to them. Of course, there is also the possibility that you can let them start in fighting. But I have seen this happen quite rarely during my playthrough. But, the crystal of madness holds some secrets about that.

During your quest to find the keys that open the doors to the ending of the level, you can also find various secrets. Some of them are in plain sight and others are hidden behind fake walls. If you are secret hunting, pay close attention to the environment and don’t destroy boxes since they can be used to jump higher. And each secret is worth it, let me tell you. Some secrets saved my skin during my playthrough. 

There is one mechanic in this game I’m honestly missing in other shooter games and that’s the slide mechanic. When you are running and press the crouch button, DuskDude does a slide. This feels so gratifying to pull off and helps quite a lot during combat. 

There are also power-ups in this game that enhance the gameplay quite a lot. My two favorites are the Fast Fire Totem and the Wall Climbing power-up. The Fast Fire Totem just reduces your weapon cool down to 0. It’s ridiculous and using it on a large group of enemies felt so enjoyable to do. Also, the Wall Climbing power-up is used in excellent moments and set pieces that made it a lot of fun to use. 

In terms of gameplay, this game is a well built shooter and it controls amazingly well. I never had a moment where I felt that a death was the game’s fault. The only nitpick I had with the controls is that picking up items and moving them is sometimes a bit tricky when you are getting things from between tight spaces. 

The Steam achievements were fun to get while exploring the various landscapes in this game. Visually, this game looks right out of the early 90’s. The visual style has been nailed perfectly with blocky models and everything. Yet, surprisingly, the game is quite detailed and feels like a real dystopian landscape. 

In terms of animations, this game hits another nail on the head. I highly advise you to learn the attack animations of your enemies since they can save your life in certain spots. Some enemies are a big pain to deal with but when you learn their patterns and animations, they can be worked around. 

To top this all off, you have an amazing soundtrack by Andrew Hulshult. This soundtrack adds so much to the game, it’s amazing. While the game gives off a horror and Lovecraft vibe, you can rip and tear with the epic metal soundtrack in the background that even gets moody at certain moments. That in combination with great sound design makes it fun to hunt down your enemies, avoid their attacks and shoot them. 

So far I have been praising this game, like the additional fun I had when I messed around with the cheats in this game, but I’m sad to report that this game does drop the ball in some area’s. Let’s talk about them. 

Nostalgic loading screen

950317-dusk-windows-screenshot-many-weapons-can-be-dual-wielded-earlyLet me first start with the biggest bummer of them all. I wanted to try out the multiplayer in order to be able to write about it. Sadly enough, the multiplayer is quite deserted at times. I’m not the best in shooter games but I felt that the balance was all over the place. In the few matches I was able to play, I got spawn killed quite often. Maybe I need to give it another chance but I have a bit of a sour taste in my mouth so I don’t think that will happen anytime soon. Thankfully, the single player is more then fun enough to play through and there is were the focus is at. 

I was about to complain about the lack of the weapon wheel, but this is coming in a future patch when the console versions are released. In addition to that, we are also getting custom weapons, co-op and mod support. So, these things might help in fixing some of the issues I have with the game. 

Something I didn’t like is that this game is quite short. There are 30 levels in this game and you can finish this game in give or take 10-ish hours. This game has so much potential and it’s over before you know it. I was really getting into it nearing the end and then I was fighting the final boss. Oh well, this game is somewhat replayable due to the secret hunting you can do and trying to beat your fastest time. 

You know, I don’t want to do this but this game does drop the ball in something that’s a big pet peeve of mine. This is the UI. While it works and is easy to use, there is some major polish that needs to happen to it. Let’s start with the lack of a map. I got lost several times in some levels because I was unable to bring up a map. Some of these levels are huge and without a map, you can get lost if you didn’t pay attention during a fight. 

If you use your mouse wheel to scroll in some menu’s like the save/load menu or in the language menu, the scrolling up is quite broken. Sometimes it works and other times it refuses to work. 

Speaking of the save/load system, the save and load system isn’t good. I hate the fact that the list of save files is alphabetical and not sorted by the latest save you made. I always had a hard time finding my most recent save when I wanted to continue the game. Also, when you saved the game for a second time in a level, it doesn’t ask you to overwrite your latest save… It takes the name of the latest save and starts adding lines to it. 

When selecting a save file to load, you get the level name and the time stamp of when you saved the game. I wish I was able to see how long I was in the level as well. That way I would how far I was in the level. 

Now, this game doesn’t do an autosave when you enter a new level. You have to save manually each and every time. Thankfully, you can start at the beginning of the level through the main menu quite easily. 

All of these things are such a shame. Since it puts a blemish on quite an interesting game. A game that does a lot right like an enjoyable endless mode where you have to keep being fast and efficient since there is a huge lack of health pickups. Something else this game does well is setting the atmosphere with the fake DOS-loading screen and sound effects. 

But then strange mistakes happen like your controls settings not carrying over from single player to multiplayer. Or the custom cursor not working all to well in the multiplayer menu. 

Also, there are things like when you use your double barreled shotgun and you have only one bullet left, you can’t shoot your shotgun. But here is the thing that annoys me, when you are out of ammo for all your other weapons, DuskDude switches to another gun. And guess what he doesn’t do in the situation I described earlier? But of course, switch weapons! 

Now, there are moments where DuskDude flips upside down. During swimming moments or in certain levels. And let me tell you, the sudden camera movement was quite disorienting for me sometimes. One timing during my playthrough I even had to stop playing since I got a major headache… But that might be just me… 

So, with all of this said, I think it’s high time for the conclusion of this article. Time to wrap everything up in a nice TL;DR and give my final thoughts on the game. 

Conclusion

The good:

+ Addictive and fast gameplay.

+ The amount of homages and easter eggs are amazing.

+ The audio and visual design is excellent.

+ Andrew Hulshult’s soundtrack is a big plus.

+ …

The bad:

-Can be a bit short if you don’t go 100% it.

-The multiplayer is a bit eh, in my opinion.

-Some UI issues.

-The save/load system is somewhat broken. (The UI)

Final thoughts:

Dusk is an amazing game that takes you back to the times of the original Doom, Quake and other old school shooters. It’s an enjoyable shooter to play through and I had to a lot of fun from beginning to end. 

It’s clear that a lot of polish and love went into this game and it shows. This game is a labor of love that turned out quite well. It’s a shame that some UI issues (especially in the SAVE/LOAD system) are a blemish on an otherwise amazing game. 

I can forgive the game being rather short since you can go secret hunting or try to beat the game on a higher difficulty or beat your fastest time. Also, for the price of only 25€, you get an additional 26 page comic and the whole soundtrack by the amazing Andrew Hulshult. That dude has the shooter soundtrack creation nailed to a T. 

Would I recommend this game to fans of (retro-style) shooters? I think that’s a no-brainer YES, OF COURSE! The positives highly outweigh the negatives for this game. And with some updates on the horizon, this game might only get better and maybe some of the UI issues I mentioned in this article might be fixed in the future. Who knows? 

So, if you would excuse me… I think it’s high time I continue to shoot some of these enemies that are calling me a heretic while I wrap up this final paragraph. I want to thank you so much for reading this article. I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. I hope to be able to welcome you in another article but until then, have a great rest of your day and take care!

Score: 90/100

 

Review: Angels Of Death (Switch) ~ Halloween Adventure

Wikipedia entry

Today I want to talk about a game that’s perfect for Halloween night. Since I played and fell in love with the Corpse Party series, I have high expectations when it comes to playing RPG horror-themed games. So, what did I think of “Angels of Death”? Did it live up to the fun I had with Corpse Party or did it fall flat on its face? That’s what I want to talk about in this review. As usual, feel free to leave a comment in the comment section down below about the game and/or the content of this article.

“I saw a murder”

Fair warning for everybody who wants to play this game. This game is quite a story based and try to avoid reading too about the story to avoid spoiling the whole game. To avoid ruining the game for those who want to play it after reading this article, I kept the spoilers to a minimum and the screenshots of the early game.

That said, in this game, you take on the role of Rachael “Ray” Gartner. A 13-year old girl who claims to have seen a murder. She is taken to a hospital for counseling. However, she finds herself waking up in an unfamiliar basement. Now, she has to escape since she heard over a speaker that she is a sacrifice, whatever that might mean.

And that’s everything I’m going to say about the story. The story takes various twists and turns and it’s a wild ride. The writing and pacing are top-notch. Personally, I loved the writing in this game. The characters are memorable and quirky. I loved every single one of them.

This game contains a lot of dialogues. If you aren’t into those games, I would recommend that you skip this one. Since none of the dialogues are voice acted. But, after I had finished the first chapter of the game, I watched the first episode of the anime and I have to say, that those voices just played in my head while I was playing the game.

The writing made me laugh and sit on the edge of my seat. It’s a great story to play on Halloween night. It’s a game that takes the horror route without using too much gore. The only sad thing is that this game is only 8 hours long. The game doesn’t have any replay value or multiple endings, so I felt empty after those 8 hours. Empty for more.

This game touches upon a few themes that could be a trigger for some people. From murder, a whole range of cuss words to religion. In my opinion, the game never went into the offensive territory but if you are easily triggered by these subjects, keep an open mind if you are playing this game.

“Exploration of the basement”

At its core, Angels of Death is a puzzle game. If you have played Corpse Party or a game from the Zero Escape series, you will be right at home playing this game. The goal of each chapter is to escape the floor you are trapped in. In order to do that, you have to solve various puzzles while exploring the basement.

The game is quite linear, so there isn’t much room to explore the basement. I never got stuck in this game and I never needed a walkthrough. This game is quite easy to finish. It does provide some challenge but if you use the save system like I did, you won’t have any problems.

Don’t forget that this game doesn’t automatically save your game. You have to manually save the game. You can do that whenever you want, expect from a few special moments like chase sequences. When these moments happen, the game gives you the chance to save right before they happen. You have 99 save slots, so you won’t run out of slots. And yes, you can save over a slot.

This game has 4 chapters, so 4 puzzles for you to complete. To be honest, you don’t need to play this game for the puzzles. Some of them were too easy and I didn’t even notice that I was solving a puzzle. The flow of this game is a bit too streamlined. Yet, it didn’t pull away from the experience. Besides exploration, there are a few sections that provide some variation in the gameplay. There is even a section where you have to shoot something to clear out a room. These sections were too short.

This is the big issue I had with the game. The game is a lot of fun to play but it’s too easy. The story is amazing and has the right length and pace so more gameplay would have made the story unnecessarily longer. So, I’m a bit mixed on this.

During the various sections, the controls never failed me. I mostly played this game in handheld mode or in docked mode. The controls are easy to understand and quite quick to learn. I never had any issues with them.

In terms of the UI of this game, I think it’s quite good apart from one minor thing. In the “load” menu of the game, I wish there was a bit more info on the save slot. For example, in which room I saved. Oh well, that’s a nitpick.

“Zack’s laugh”

The visual presentation of this game is great. It’s quite clear that this game uses a version of RPG Maker for this game and it uses it quite well. Each map is quite detailed. The visual presentation really added to the atmosphere of the game. The animations as well, I really loved the animations during story segments. They made some characters come to life.

Some parts of this game are hand-drawn like the character models. This adds a lot of charm to the game and they reminded me of the anime I still have to finish. My favorite character in this whole game is Ray. I can’t explain why, since that would mean I would spoil the whole game.

Something that adds quite a lot to the game is the soundtrack and the sound effects. The soundtrack of this game consists mostly of techno and orchestra tracks. I’m so glad that I also bought the Steam version so I could add the soundtrack to my library. It’s a joy to listen too.

The sound effects are amazing as well, to such a degree that a lot of people miss the sound effect of Zach’s laugh in some tracks. I have to agree since I always heard his laugh on the track while it wasn’t there. The story had such an impact on me.

My only complaint is that the music tracks are a bit too short. Some are only one minute long and I like them quite a lot. I wish they created an extended version that wasn’t looping the song three times over. Oh well, this again might be a nitpick.

This game has the perfect price in my opinion. You can buy this game for 15€ in the Nintendo EShop. So, that’s everything I wanted to say about this game. I think it’s high time we wrap this article up and go for the conclusion of this review.

Conclusion

The bad:

  • Too short & easy.

The good:

  • Amazing story.
  • Amazing soundtrack.
  • Amazing art & animations.

Final thoughts:

If you enjoy RPG-maker games that give you more of an adventure like Corpse Party or the Crooked Man, this game is for you. If you want to play a short and fun game during Halloween night, I can’t recommend this game enough.

Personally, I loved the writing in this game so much that I want to replay through the whole game while I even know how the game is going to end. I understand that this game isn’t for everybody. With the large amounts of dialogue, the easy puzzles and the short nature of this game, some people can get turned off this game. But, it didn’t stop me from enjoying the game.

I was glad that I had this game on the car trip during my family weekend. It was such a blast to play. My only regret is that I didn’t keep this for Halloween night. If you don’t own a Nintendo Switch, this game is also on Steam. So, go grab it and enjoy it!

Thank you for reading this article and I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. I hope to be able to welcome you in another article but until then, take care and have a great (spooky) rest of your day.

Score: 100/100

First Impressions: Castlevania – Lords Of Shadow – Mirror Of Shadow (3DS) ~ It’s Just Fun!

castlevaniamof

Wikipedia entry

So, my best wishes for the holidays. I have something special to announce. I got myself a wireless controller for my PC. That means that I can now play even more games than before. In addition to that, it’s the 50th article I publish on ButtonSmashers. Yes, 50th! And I’m nearing a big number on my personal blog as well. So, I’m extremely thrilled about that. But this is totally beside the point, I told you guys that I wouldn’t write any new article in 2013. I kinda lied. This is a new article, I guess. While I’m waiting for a download to finish to use my controller on, I played a bit of this game on my 3DS. It’s surprisingly better then I expected it in the first place. That’s why I decided to write an article about it. It would be lovely if you left a comment with your thoughts on this article and or on this game. So, let’s go. 

Story

castlevaniamofs.jpgIt’s going to be a shame to admit this but I know next to nothing about the story in the Castlevania series. It’s a shame really since I quite enjoy the Castlevania games. It’s actually Castlevania game I’m waiting on downloading on Steam.

The story, for as far I can understand, is pretty thrilling. The writing is pretty neat. I think it’s brilliantly written.

While I was thrown off at first by the presentation of the cutscenes, when I placed my 3D slider to the max I actually rather enjoyed the art style.

From what I have heard, this game will take place from different points of view. You don’t have to tell that to me twice to know that I’m going to play an excellent story. I have played multiple RPG’s from Konami and I was never let down by the story.

The voice acting. Wow. I mean, it just blows my mind how good it was. And actually still it. In the cutscenes, the voices add so much to the game. Yet, I’m under the impression that the game sometimes has a bit of a slowdown in the cutscenes with the 3D slider on. But that might just be me though.

“Mash”

castlevaniamo4Let me be clear on this, I hate button mashers with a passion. It broke the shoulder buttons of my original DS and I’m still kinda pissed about that. Yet, I’m glad that I learned my lesson and I don’t have to make other devices suffer the same fate.

ButtonSmashers don’t demand skill. In a sense they do, the skill to be able to tap a button very rapidly. While this game sometimes has it quick time events and it’s “mash the attack button” moments, I never really felt that they were a “mashing fest”.

Since when you aren’t careful, you’ll die. And in typical Castlevania style, the hearts don’t give back your health. You have to find fountains. And they aren’t close together. You have to react quickly and try to save your health.

In terms of controls, it’s acceptable. It’s one of the more weaker points in the game. While there is no “tutorial”, the controls are displayed briefly on the screen. So, experienced players won’t be annoyed by them.

While researching for the article, I came across an article on this game which called the combat one of the negatives. Well, here lies a problem. Since this game is a sequel to a 3D game, the combat is, of course, less bloody and such. I give them that, yet when you look at how this game works well in terms of combat as a 2D game, I think it can be excused.

Yet, something I didn’t welcome with open hands is the fact that when you die, you can get respawned in a boss fight with full health. Yeah, when you killed the boss halfway, you will respawn there.

Verdicts

castlevaniamof2Besides the weird respawning, there is something else that bothers me. The animation isn’t that great in my opinion. And before you write angry comments, let me explain.

The animation on the characters and such is great. Yet, we can’t really enjoy it that well since it’s a bit too zoomed out. It makes the game feel unfinished and that they use this technique to hide that.

While I already said that the controls aren’t the greatest, I have to talk a bit more about them. After you got used to them, they are pretty nice quality. The big issue is the fact that you need to get used to them. I wished that special powers could be done with a touch on the touchscreen.

The game is a good challenge. It isn’t too hard to be frustrating, but it isn’t too easy. This is a pureblood action adventure game. And the adventuring is really present. While you can easily see where to go next, exploring around gives you additional content. And more monsters to fight.

Defeated monsters give you XP. And when you level up, when you have enough XP of course, you unlock new moves. You can quickly check the moves list in your inventory so you have no excuse that you forgot the controls when you didn’t play the game for a while.

Also, Konami didn’t use any excuses in the art style. The game is pretty. Too bad that the game is a bit zoomed out. Otherwise, the art would have more detail in them and shined through a bit more.

I’ll probably go more in depth with my review but I’m liking this game so far. The music is also really nice. I like the soundtrack. Such a shame that no real good quality versions are uploaded to YouTube, so I could share it with you guys. In the sound department, this game is really well put together.

So in conclusion, this game would have been a lot better with some minor tweaks at the controls and a bit more zoomed in. But I think I’m going to leave it here. When I’m reaching that milestone on my personal blog, I’ll write a long special article. Thanks for reading and have a safe Christmas.