I was all ready to review Dusk on Nintendo Switch back in 2020. A retro-style FPS that pays tribute to such classics as Doom and Quake? Sign me up! The thing is — Dusk did not release last year, only appearing on Nintendo’s hybrid last month. Developer New Blood Interactive needed time to perfect and optimize the game, and it doesn’t crunch (much respect), so it took an extra year to get things just right. The result is an almost flawless version of the 2018 PC original, with extra features that take advantage of the Nintendo Switch hardware.
Something is greatly amiss
Story-wise, Dusk is pretty thin. You play as a nameless dude who returns to his hometown one day to find everything in ruins. He’s hung up on meathooks and makes a daring escape, which is pretty much all the backstory you get when you start the adventure. The game itself certainly gets interesting throughout its three-episode, multi-level campaign, with a satanic cult at the forefront. There are trippy laboratory sections, portals to other worlds, and weird spacey areas. All of it is certainly entertaining, though you might be left scratching your head as to the “why” of it all.
Blow them all to hell
Granted, you don’t need a robust plot to make a good FPS, as long as you have great gameplay. And boy, does Dusk have that in spades. Everything moves at a crisp 60 FPS, both docked and undocked, and there’s HD Rumble, full gyro support, and optimization options aplenty. The various weapons you obtain all sound fantastic when fired. And the soundtrack by Andrew Hulshult is metal as all hell.
The great thing about Dusk is it’s super frantic. More often than not, enemies come at you in waves, surrounding you from all corners. It’s great fun just trying to avoid fire from all directions while simultaneously blasting away. This is especially so when you pick up power-ups like the Fast Fire Totem, which increases the fire rate of all your weapons, or the Serum of Blistering Heat, which turns the game into Superhot, having time only move when you do.
Dusk has many awesome weapons like this. You can dual-wield pistols and shotguns. There is a crossbow that does a lot of damage and can go through foes and walls. A mortar makes an appearance that can detonate grenades remotely. And there’s a sword you obtain late in the game that can block attacks and be charged up for a massive swing. They all feel great to use.
Enemies are memorable, too. There are cultists, scarecrows with shotguns, invisible demonic goat things, and a dog in a box, just to name a few. They all emit creepy noises, have heavy breathing, or shout things like “HERETIC!” It’s creepy stuff, especially with a good pair of headphones.
Clever tricks and rewarding exploration
Another reason Dusk is a great time on Nintendo Switch is it encourages experimentation and investigation. You can bunny hop by moving the control stick and jumping with the left bumper. This is crucial for making long jumps across chasms that usually lead to secrets with extra ammo, health, or upgrades. The title is also quite clever with switching things up. There are times where your flashlight breaks and you have to rely on the light of your fired shots to navigate dark spaces. Plus, there are bosses you can bypass entirely if you are crafty enough. I had a hard time disposing of the big bad of the second episode, so I ran around him, through multiple portals, all in order to hit a sequence of switches that opened the exit so I could flee. Cowardly? Maybe so, but it takes skill to dodge explosions while operating multiple buttons.
My gripes with Dusk are slight. Some environments are a bit bland and an ugly brown, something even the excellent Quake contains. My viewpoint shifted upside down while climbing and descending ladders more than once, which left me a bit disoriented. Also, once levels expand and start incorporating keys to open doors, backtracking can be a bit of a pain. There are moments where you will hit a button and text will say, “A door opens somewhere,” and you’ll have to think hard about where in the stage you came across a locked passage. Complicating these matters are a few locations where the backgrounds all sort of blend together and look a little samey. I just found these sections frustrating to navigate.
Blistering fun with Dusk on Switch
Regardless of the few issues, though, Dusk is a pleasure to experience. It’s optimized wonderfully for Switch, the sound design is exceptional, weapons and power-ups are unique and a joy to use, and there is a lot of variety between levels. In addition, the game has an Endless mode, complete with a stage inspired by Peach’s Castle from Super Mario 64. And if you preordered the title, you get access to Dusk ’82, an 8-bit demake prequel that’s actually pretty neat. All in all, Dusk stands together with Doom and Quake as a formidable FPS.
A Nintendo Switch review code for Dusk was provided by the publisher.