Thursday, July 27, 2017

Duster - The Friday FREE GAME Feature!

Explore, fight and survive in a pixelated wild west!

Duster is a survival exploration game currently in pre-alpha. It features retro 8-bit graphics and procedural generation. Set in the 1800s old west, you happen upon news of a mine full of riches and attempt to locate it.

I'll get right to the point. In its current state, Duster isn't worth playing right now. The concept is good, and in fact was the main reason I wanted to try the game. However, the game needs work in both technical and mechanical aspects.

On the technical side, there's a lot of glitches. The placement of the saloon NPC can sometimes be in a spot you can't access, but it seems they're not fully implemented yet anyway. The fishing pole can do some funky things as well, and I'm not sure if they're bugs or features. The biggest problem though is how badly the game handles terrain while sprinting/jumping. You can easily glitch out, allowing you to run across hills, water and even through walls, the latter of which can strand your character entirely, forcing you to start a new game. While those are all problematic issues, I imagine some bug fixing will eliminate all of them in time.

I'm a bit more worried about Duster's mechanics, as they seem fine independently but don't mesh well together. For example, the game has hunger and thirst mechanics as well as a sprint ability. I'm in favor of all of these concepts, but it's far too easy to just run anywhere you want as long as you keep refilling your canteen. Either the map is too small or player speed is too fast.

Inventory is also a huge issue, and while I can appreciate inventory management as a part of the game, the system could use some work. As there's a day/night cycle and shops are closed at the slightest bit of shade, you have nothing to do at night once your inventory is full (short of destroying items by dropping them). I'd like to see either a camping option of some type or perhaps a way to store items somewhere. If those features even came with some kind of risk - such as being attacked or having things potentially stolen - it would at least give you options.

Combat and enemies need some work too. You can easily kite both snakes and bandits into cacti (or each other) without having to actually fight anything. It certainly makes the revolver and ammo pointless as well as a waste of two precious inventory slots. Equipping the rare bandit with its own gun might at least make for more difficult encounters (though its AI would need to be reasonably capable of not shooting its friends).

I could go on about things I'd like to see added to the game, but right now it's important that Duster gets the basics working cohesively first. I'll try to keep an eye on this title and see where it goes.

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