Keith's Crappy Videogame Blog

Dusk-12 (PC, 2006-ish, Russia): Low-Rent Mutant Shenanigans
August 6, 2010, 2:16 am
Filed under: Dusk-12 (PC, 2006-ish, Russia)

If you’re playing a game like “Dusk-12,” you know what you are in for. Any critic that skewers this low-budget, derivative shooter went into this experience completely unaware of reality. If you just finished playing the latest “Bioshock” sequel and someone told you to look for more thrills by playing “Dusk-12,” you got played and someone is laughing heartily at your expense.

But for the rest of us who are in touch with reality, “Dusk-12” is what it is–another super-average, yet perfectly serviceable sci-fi FPS from eastern Europe that about 15 people in the US have heard of (I say that a lot, don’t I?). As with all these kinds of titles (You Are Empty, Kreed, Exodus from the Earth, Scorpion Disfigured, shall I go on?), you get bad voice acting with even worse translation, graphics that hover somewhere between HL 1 and 2 (I know, I compare everything to Half-Life…who doesn’t?), atrocious music (turn it off in the menu right away), a slim but OK selection of firearms that vary from nuclear-powered to peashooter, silly “let’s charge him!” artificial intelligence with no variation, and the requisite collision errors around every linear corner.

On the plus side, “Dusk-12” runs like a charm on a low-end machine, there is variation in the (sometimes sizable) locales and game-types (some very minor platforming, some unchallenging on-rails shooting), there is nothing overtly broken about it, there are moments of unintended hilarity due to tricky localization to English (which always helps), and (as I have found with many of these titles) the story is actually somewhat interesting if you can manage to make it through the entire game before losing interest. In this case, it is not only the story that is fun, but the structure of the narrative is equally unique and satisfying (which is good, since there are significant hurdles to jump if you undertake playing this).

There are 2 main protagonists: An average-Joe soldier (voiced by a guy who sort of knows English), and a not-so-average supermutant (which, of course, shines the brightest: You can mind-strangle the life outta your enemies from 20 feet away! And who can hate picking up entire cars and launching them hundreds of feet in the air to hit a stalking helicopter? I mean, please!). You play each character alternating back and forth from chapter to chapter. The way the story is structured, it *appears* as though the supermutant (escapee from a supersecret government lab, of course) is heading OUT OF the city (fighting through crazed townsfolk who have been infected with some government-sanctioned test virus), while the soldier is heading INTO the city towards the supermutant to subdue him. Wanting to see what happens when the two cross paths actually creates a lot of motivation to continue. Smart structure, I think—although the far-and-few-between reviews you ever see of this game conclude that it is merely confusing.

(SPOILER BEGINS) But the narrative (as I assumed it during my playthrough) is not the case at all. Actually, the two different perspectives are not happening simultaneously. While the supermutant sections happen in present time, all of the chapters where you play the soldier have actually already happened in the past (but nothing in the gameplay alerts you to this fact). Maybe I’m naïve about these things, but as it eventually turns out, when the soldier reaches his destination (the government lab), he is subjected to tests, his brain removed and put into the supermutant body. So, surprise, you actually ARE the supermutant (and have been all along). Once, as the mutant, you come to this understanding, then your sole mission is to whoop up on the individuals responsible. (SPOILER ENDS)

Again what you get here is an unremarkable game with a really neat idea that, maybe with better tech or better developers, could have been something special-or at least unique. But as it stands, if you get “Dusk-12” as a download for $4.95 from someplace like Gamersgate or Steam like me, it’s still worth the pennies and the 8 or so hours of play. What the hell does “Dusk-12” mean anyway? More translation problems, apparently.


2 Comments so far
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Well then, here’s another game for my list. Sounds right up my alley. Unfortunately, right now Gamersgate has it listed at $20, so I am going to wait for a sale. Which is no problem, since “Inhabited Island” will keep me busy.

Another great review with great screenshots. Something about those Russian visuals has always appealed to me. For instance, I loved “You Are Empty” in spite of its flaws…Oh, I see on your list you already covered that one. Heading over to read it now…

I feel like some kind of weird gaming junkie lately.

Comment by Mark L

Its original name is “Территория Тьмы”, which means “Territory of Darkness” or “Gloom” or… smth. like that.

Comment by fallouterin

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