DUSK Episode 2

My sound card is buggered right now so I’m using headphones. I’m not sure whether that was a genius move or a terrible mistake. Dusk episode 2 is scary.  I yelped when the new bad guy spoke. I screamed the second time I met a wendigo (I expected the first one).

It’s also harder. I mastered episode 1 on hard but I feel off-balance in episode 2 on hard. In a good way – I think the difficulty so far is just about right for me. There’s a LOT of enemies and all of them are very dangerous if left alive too long. You’ve got to keep moving and weaving between cover if you want to survive. The popcorn enemy dies quicker but hits harder, and the tanky scarecrows have been replaced with the incredibly dangerous welder.

There’s plenty of new enemies, although at least one is a pallet swap (super cultists). There’s no new weapons, but that’s to be expected. This is/was supposed to be like the old 90s shareware games after all. According to the devs their ambition has grown since DUSK’s “shareware” episode got such great reviews. There may be further unique art assets and monsters in episode 3. I’m excited about this, even though the promise of uniquely styled episodes reminds me of Daikatana.

I had an initially rocky start with DUSK with the new climbing power up being bugged, but the devs have quickly addressed this in patches and it’s much better now. I never quite feel like I’m playing episode 2 properly, but maybe I’m just nervous from the thick atmosphere and new monsters. I’m surprised that the Black Mesa inspired episode is scarier than the Blood / Silent Hill themed episode – but I guess I didn’t play episode 1 in a dark room with headphones on.

I didn’t mention it in the episode 1 write up, but DUSK is being developed by one of the guys involved with the Rise of the Triad remake. I’m looking out for bad platforming sections but nothing egregious has popped up (the lava section in the Foundry secret level comes close). I’m also worried that episode 3 will have bad ‘gimmick’ levels, as that can sometimes be the case with “otherwordly” themed final levels in games (levels that make devs go nuts with portal tricks and frustrating mazes), but they don’t seem to be rushing development (far from it) so I’m hopeful they’ll come up with something nicely balanced. So far I’ve thoroughly enjoyed DUSK and not had any causes for concern.

A reminder for the people who are newer to FPS gaming – although I’m saying “episode 2″ it’s not a sequel or an episodic game. You buy DUSK and you get a full 33 level game with extra modes, it’s kind of like an early access thing. Getting the first 11 levels in advance was meant to be a pre-order bonus referencing 90s shareware, but the positive reception has meant they’re taking their time finishing everything off so now the episodes are released as they’re finalized. The entire package is $20 US or £15 UK.

It’s still the same DUSK that I loved first time around – just more intense. More enemies, more intense encounters, more intense atmosphere. I’m just under halfway through episode 2 so this is purely a first impression – but the fact that I felt the need to come on Tumblr to wax about my experience probably says a lot.

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