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Freaky Friday: The Horrors of DUSK

You wake in an enclosed room, with only sickles to protect yourself. Three silhouettes loom in the darkness as you slip into reality. Silence lingers before a disembodied voice echoes, “Kill the intruder.” The assailants emerge from the shadows, wielding chainsaws.

As they charge forward to claim your head, panic takes over. Flailing the sickles wildly, you narrowly avoid their slashes aimed at your neck and torso. Being quick to dodge, you can attack and avoid their strikes. After a long, bloody ordeal, you take a breath and look around. Next to where you awoke, two hooks hang from a wooden frame. Buckets and a skeleton litter the ground below. Who knows how many victims have hung there?

Brutal moments like this fill DUSK with memorable experiences and lasting feelings of panicked, horror-driven decision-making, balancing on life and death. Around almost every corner something will be jumping out and yelling, “Non-believers!” or something similar while trying to take your face off. With inspiration from classic games like Quake, Blood, Heretic, Hexen, Half-Life, and Redneck Rampage, DUSK became an instant classic with its assortment of levels, weapons, and ways to play. Reading the DUSK Steam web page recent/all review scores best explains just how well made this game is. At 142 votes with a 99% overwhelmingly positive in the past 30 days, and 3,440 total votes with 97% overwhelmingly positive rating at the time of this article, the results speak for themselves. Not only that, but the game is just $20 with dark and frightening environments, secrets, terrifying enemies, both ambient and hard metal music, and pant-soiling action all packed into many hours of gameplay.

The horror starts right off with the beginning of the first level, throwing you into a seemingly un-winnable situation and surrounding you with the blood and bones of the bodies that came before you. Keeping you on your toes is a very common theme throughout your journey, and many ambushing points are scattered throughout the game. Some occurrences include pressing a button or collecting something like a key while the walls fall to reveal a slew of hidden enemies surrounding you. Sometimes, these occurrences will require tight movements to survive.

Control of your character in DUSK is some of the tightest I’ve ever experienced across thousands of games, including those of the same genre, such as Doom and Quake. Both simple and advanced movement techniques are provided to accommodate all types of players, offering clear, easy-to-understand controls like jumping and strafing left/right. It also includes extra goodies like the ability to do flips with the mouse/joystick and strafe-running, a technique known to players of Doom where you hold forward/backward and a combination of left strafe and right strafe while jumping constantly to speed up movement. This increases your movement speed to levels not normally meant to be reached, making long jumps easier to conquer and enemies easier to dodge.

Weapon selection also follows the pattern of Doom and Quake by having a wide variety of weapons such as a crossbow, double-barreled shotgun, dual-wielded pistols and single-barrel shotguns, a “Riveter” which acts like a rocket launcher, and a big, strong sword hidden once per chapter that can be charged for extra damage when above 100% health. There is never a lack of firepower throughout DUSK, with secrets often being treasure troves of goodies to heal and supply.

Speaking of secrets, DUSK has hidden multiple secrets across every level in the game, which at the time of this article consists of three episodes with 11 levels per episode. Some involve finding a hidden switch behind barrels in a shed by pressing the “use” button on a suspicious part of a wall. Or it may be something more straightforward like shooting an explosive at obvious cracks along surfaces and terrain. The number of secrets you find is dictated by how many you’re willing to crawl around and search for, but the game makes it easier for you by showing how many secrets you’ve found and how many are in the level by pressing the “tab” key or the “select” button on controllers.

Have I mentioned the soundtrack? If you are a fan of classic music like the Doom soundtrack, where metal greets your ears as you slay hordes of terrifying enemies, you’ll love this one. With 43 tracks created by Andrew Hulshult, there’s a fitting tune for every situation, bringing you everything from chills across your body, to heart-pumping, feet-stomping energy to keep you engrossed in your fight. During multiple occasions while playing, I was so caught up in the action and surrounded by the music that I started to duck and dodge my head along with the character in-game.

So, what kind of enemies are you encountering? Just what could make you so afraid that you jump back in your chair when it pops around the next corner? A few examples of these would include hooded chainsaw-wielders, screaming-while-sprinting-directly-at-you-with-unnaturally-long-jaw enemies, laughing doctors with needles, invisible Wendigos, and cart-dog. “What is cart-dog?” you ask. Terrifying, that’s what.

Now, that’s all just within the single-player campaign, which even offers an “intruder” mode, where you start all levels with just the sickles. There are several other modes such as “endless” mode, where you fight endless onslaughts of enemies, wave after wave, until you are no more, and a multiplayer Arena mode called “DUSKWorld,” which is akin to the multiplayer found in Quake. In “DUSKWorld,” there are unique maps based on the main game that are tons of fun to explore and struggle against your opponents in PVP (player-vs-player). The only shame about this game is that not a lot of people seemed to have picked it up and played online, as trying to play in a full server is impossible unless it’s you and nine friends (Maximum 10 players).

In my first experience with this game, I played for 10 minutes and knew to inform my buddy to buy the game immediately. He bought it and couldn’t stop playing it until it was done. Go to Steam, support this developer, and treat yourself. Right now.

If this article was interesting to you, I highly suggest you play the game and experience the thrill ride of a lifetime. You’ll feel so many emotions while playing DUSK that you’ll fill the hole in your heart in no time! If you’ve had any moments in DUSK that you’ve enjoyed and stands out to you, please let us know in the comments down below.