Duskers is an exploration game that has elements of strategy and resource management thrown in for good measure. The title is developed and published by Misfits Attic, the husband/wife team responsible for A Virus Named TOM. Duskers is their second game and it is currently available through Early Access on Steam.
The game puts players in the role of a drone operator. Tasked with piloting up to four drones through abandoned spaceships, materials and upgrades must be salvaged and fuel collected to get your own ship out of the universe that now resembles a giant graveyard. Along the way, intel can be gathered that may even mean that you will discover how the universe came to be in this state. The problem is that the drones are not alone. There are many organic life forms that inhabit the derelict spaceships and they love to destroy any technology that they find.
The technology that is used to explore these ships is outdated. Each drone has a video feed and a remote microphone that acts as the player’s eyes and ears. Every command that is issued has to be made through a command line system. At the beginning, players are offered a tutorial to get used to the basic commands and have an opportunity to try out the randomly generated upgrades on each of the three drones. After this, the strategies to succeed must be devised by the player.
It’s the simplicity of the gameplay itself that makes the game so approachable and the learning curve is gentle. However, once players jump to a second universe, things get much more complicated. Scrap metal, used for repairing broken equipment, becomes a lot scarcer. Enemies become more aggressive. The strategies that have been developed for safe exploration fall apart as the drone’s upgrades start to fail and players are forced to adapt to a new strategy. Along with the procedurally generated universe and spaceships, it is this that will keep players returning for more. No two playthroughs of the game will ever be the same.
Once a player dies in this game, they lose everything. It is also incredibly easy to make a single mistake and turn a successful mission into a complete disaster. While a player can quit from an exploration when things really go south, this means that the mission will never again be accessible — you only get a single chance at any of the explorations. It is the harsh finality of these things that means that the game may not be for everyone, but for others it will mean that they learn from their mistakes and try again… and again… for as many times as it takes.
As can be expected from a game in the very early stages of Early Access, there are bugs, although we only encountered a minor error where the wrong text was displayed at the end of a successful mission. While other players are finding other issues, we haven’t uncovered anything that could be considered game breaking. As far as gameplay mechanics go, the developer is already looking at changing the rate of breakdowns for the drone upgrades, as these can happen too frequently. As someone who experienced multiple drone breakdowns in a single mission, a slight reprieve would be welcome.
The game’s graphics and audio are also very basic at the moment. There are plans to add “gritty digital effects” and “atmospheric” audio in the future, as well as a larger story and more upgrade/modification options. While the title may be in an early stage, as it stands this game is extremely addictive. If you’re after an exploration title where resource management is vital for success, I suggest that you give this game a glance.