I am sitting in the middle of the night with the room lights turned off. The only light source comes from the lamp accross the street and illuminates a part of the floor in front of my computer. I wear my headphones, not to enjoy the music of Duskers (there is no music in the game) but to succesffully dampen the outside world sounds, the car in the distance, the wind on the trees.
I navigate my drones to a newly discovered derelict spaceship. I know the first room is usually safe from infestation so my first moves are full of confidence. I locate the generator and power it up. Now more doors have power and I can open them. I don’t do that. Instead, I activate the motion sensor. My choice was correct because behind door d5, in the room r5 there is some form of enemy. Someone would congratulate me on that move, after all I’ve learned a lot about being cautious in my playthrough. Unfortunately, no one is with me in my spaceship and I really don’t know if any human is alive in my star system. I will need to keep calm, continue searching for fuel and scraps and maybe fortunately I’ll uncover what happened in Duskers, a roguelike, sci-fi strategy game by Misfits Attic.
In Duskers you are the sole survivor in a spaceship that has too few fuel cells and keeps deteorating. Your goal is to search nearby spaceships, space stations, cargo ships etc. that are derelict and try to find resources so you can continue your trip in uncovering the mystery of what happened to this universe. You will board these ships with the help of your drones. They have different modifications that allow you, among others, to gather resources, generate power from nearby generators, scan for enemies or pry doors open.
The very interesting elements of Duskers are the interface and the controls. You are actually interacting with a terminal, typing commands to move the drones and have them do what you want them to do. You will only use the keyboard, forget the mouse, in this game it’s useless. The interface makes the game feel like it jump out of the terminal of a 70s or 80s movie, like Alien. Actually, the whole claustophobic vibe from the first Alien movie feels like it’s carrying into Duskers. You feel in the moment, you feel confined in the room diagrams you see in the scematic view, like behind the airlocks is really the darkness of space and nothing else.
When you begin your game you are in a random star system and you can see derelicts around you. You will have to decide which one you want to board, a decision depending on the fuel you have and the potential to find something useful. Of course, you will need to pay attention to how many infestation types are in there, so you won’t head into complete destruction. The moment you reach the derelict you will have the option to choose which drone to take with you and then you can board the ship.
In the actual game, you can have two views that can help you navigate the ship. The drone view and the scematic view. The latter helps you see most of the rooms that are availlable and helps you strategize your every move. The former is a zoom in, top down view of your chosen drone. With this view active you can move your drone with the arrows and have a more closer look into every room.
As I mentioned before, the actions and movements of the game happen by entering commands on your terminal. These are very easy to learn and remember, and you don’t have to know how to code, if that was something you were worried about. They are easy and logical, like “navigate 1 r4; gather all”. When you type that, what happens is your 1st drone will move to room 4 and then it will gather everything it can find, that being scraps, fuel etc.
This way of controlling makes the whole experience more involving in a way and gives an old school flavor, a text adventure flavor I would say. That also helps with the intensity of certain situations, like for example when an alien enemy enters the room you are in from a shaft you didn’t notice before. When that happens and your drones are getting attacked, then you type on your keyboard like there’s no tomorrow (and actually there isn’t, if your drones get destroyed and you have no reserves, then it’s all over).
In your travels you will encounter broken drones that you can tow in your ship and have them fixed or just take their modifications. Believe me, after some time these machines become like your only friends in this world. They are the only things that actually help you, following your commands, to stay alive. So, when you lose someone or even worse, when you have to leave them behind to save two jump fuel cells and a few scraps, then it is really a heartbreaking moment.
You can buy Duskers on Steam for the price of 19,99€.
Duskers is a wonderful roguelike strategy game that, in all it’s graphical simplicity manages to focus on creating a feeling of isolation, intense and sometimes heartbreaking moments, all by just watching your drones on scematic plans. The way of controlling the drones, by typing commands on a terminal, is a very interesting idea that works wonderfully in adding to the whole atmosphere. If the premise of the game interests you, then definitely check it and you will be surprised by what it has to offer.
+Controls by typing commands
Score : 8.2/10
-Dimitris “Dimi Kaye” Kalyvas