Unending Dusk is a randomly generated, cyberpunk beat-’em-up currently taking suggestions during its development in Steam Early Access.
It’s a pretty beautiful game for what they are going for: I totally buy into the gritty, grim future the writers are trying to convey. The cities are neon, the expanses are barren wastelands with skyscrapers off in the distance and regardless of the color palettes being used, there just feels like there is blood…..everywhere. I really enjoy all the backgrounds and the enemy sprites are unique, with a really good flow to them. It seems like there is a lot crammed into Unending Dusk, like the writers had a lot of fun putting it together and coming up with lore, ideas, gadgets, upgrades, you name it.
This might be where I started to get overwhelmed, however. I do love games that have so many ideas you start laughing, and I love playing a game where I can feel that kind energy vibrating from it: the energy of people sitting around in a room, coming up with mechanics, and nobody says no to any single one.
The problem with Unending Dusk is that I almost feel overwhelmed with how much of it I get hit by at once. For example: I love to play Dungeons and Dragons, but only if I start my character at level 1. Some people like to start their campaigns off at level 20, which is totally relatable, but I don’t. Sure, you get a ton of cool abilities, a bunch of powerful gear, a long tragic backstory you can pull up at a moment’s notice… but it’s a lot to put together. Starting with a super-powerful character seems great at first, but the power fantasy starts to get boring soon enough.
In this train of thought, Unending Dusk starts you right off in a control room where you are given the basic controls, as well as access to shops, what seems like crafting tables, gear inspections and more. There isn’t really much of a tutorial — instead, a barely introduced cat robot stands in with short explanations of what each incredibly in-depth menu does. I have a general grasp that there are different adjustments you can buy to make your character more powerful, but am a bit confused beyond that. All of these elements seem to constitute the ‘RPG’ half of the game. Once you interact with the map, you start in on the ‘beat-’em-up’ section.
Once you get to a level, things start to ramp up in the same way they might have in those old X-Men arcade machines back from when we were kids. You walk around with your character, enemies come at your from the left and right and you fight them off. Once again, this might be a moment when the multiple-genre mashing might impede more than it uplifts. Because this is a randomly generated beat-’em-up (as opposed to a more standard side scroller like Final Fight or Scott Pilgrim), that perhaps means that the enemy placement, and the overall number of enemies, are also randomly generated. Some of these fight scenes, while enjoyable at first, seem to go on for quite a long time without much of a change of scenery or combatants. You can play for about an hour and still not be done with the first level after several screens.
This is not to say that Unending Dusk is a bad play — there is a lot there to work with and I am excited to see where the team takes its development throughout Early Access. Even though the player-character models can be a bit stiff in their movement, I love absolutely everything I see in the enemies, and the backgrounds are really cool. The idea is killer and the writing has a lot to work with; it just seems like a little tweaking needs to happen to combine it with the mechanics a bit more. Some detail towards the pacing, some additional elements added in to the fights and maybe a little editing down of the RPG elements, and this game could be totally stellar. Pick up a copy yourself over on Steam and make your own conclusions!