Once-upon-a-April’s Fools day, Dusk ‘82 was jokingly shown off. A demade prequel to the hotly anticipated Dusk (hotly anticipated for console plebeians at least). Roll on a little while, and Dusk ‘82 became a reality – and hoo-boy, it’s a reality I am glad I exist in.
Unlike Dusk, which is a “boomer shooter” inspired FPS, Dusk ‘82 is a turn-based puzzle game with an emphasis on blowing things up, set in an Atari hellscape. As far as pitches go, Dusk ‘82 certainly caught my attention and drew me in.
Mechanically, Dusk ‘82 controls a lot like classic Rogulelikes – such as, well, Rogue. Every time Dusk Guy moves, every enemy and bullet moves too. This gives Dusk ‘82 a distinctly tactical feel. Dusk Guy might be a badass, but his enemies tend to be tenacious in their pursuit, and in some cases, neigh impervious to your attacks.
This is a puzzle game, however, and in order to get to the end, you will need to cerebrally conquer 30 challenges of varying difficulty and complexity. Every stage has an enemy count, and if you want to unlock the exit, you will need to eliminate them in one way or another. This all ties into the puzzle, of course.
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One stage may require you to push some explosive barrels around to kill some chainsaw guys in the most efficient manner; whilst the next might have you juggling your inventory to unlock a seemingly impossible set of doors. Sometimes you just need to grab a Riveter and dig your way to victory. Every stage is varied, and whilst you can get through every stage in a couple of minutes, they often evoke that “EUREKA!” moment, when you finally see through Dusk ‘82’s cunning ruse. I’m looking at you, stage 25.
It will take you about an hour to conquer Dusk ‘82’s devilish labyrinth, which is just the right amount of time for a game like this. It does what it wants to do, does it way better than a joke has any right to do, and paces itself perfectly. Just when you think you’ve mastered what Dusk ‘82 has to offer, it throws in a brand new item or tile, and suddenly the whole experience is fresh again. Whether you are defying the laws of reality by shooting a shotgun down a magical conveyor belt or using a bar of soap to rend the physical realm asunder, Dusk ‘82 never feels stale.
For the completionists out there, Dusk ‘82 even has a bunch of hidden gems to collect, most of which exist off the beaten path, and are puzzles in and of themselves. Combined with a scoring system that rewards efficient movement through each stage, and there is certainly an excuse to revisit Dusk ‘82 once you get to the end.
Being based on hardware one can only assume existed in ‘82, Dusk ‘82 looks pretty old. There is a real charm to it, however, and the clarity it offers makes playing the game a joy. You can tell at a glance what each enemy is, what you need to do, and it allows the ‘ol noggin to crack each bonce-buster with ease. What really surprised me was the soundtrack. Not only is it genuinely excellent – conveying the tension and horror perfectly – but it’s varied. Every stage has its own track, and again, for a game that was originally a prank, this goes above and beyond what anyone would reasonably expect.
Dusk ‘82 is easily the best April Fools joke I have ever experienced. I am not a huge fan of puzzle games, but Dusk ‘82 had me playing from start to finish with a smile on my face. I have very few, if any, issues with Dusk ‘82, and I’d go as far as saying it’s one of the best puzzle games I have played this year. Wholeheartedly recommended.
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