Angel at Dusk (PC) Review

By Athanasios 24.05.2024

Review for Angel at Dusk on PC

It's hard to stand out in a genre that has been here since the early days of the industry, and it's twice as hard when that genre is the Shoot 'em up, as there are thousands of options, with many of them actually being completely free. SHMUP afficionado Akiragoya's thoughts on the matter seems to be: keep it simple… but make it look weird and awesome! Angel at Dusk is far from a reinvention of the wheel, and it seems as if it was made to attract gamers via its visuals… and yet, it's not one of those style-over-substance kind of deals. Although its style is almost enough to carry it, there's more to it than meets the eye(s).

From the very first moments, whether that's when the player is initially asked to set a couple of settings, to the tutorial itself, the game kind of teases you by saying that this is an extremely challenging kind of deal. In reality it's all a ruse and/or a joke, since Angel at Dusk is actually one of the most accessible shoot 'em ups in the notoriously unforgiving and hardcore world of the Bullet Hell/Danmaku sub-genre. Case in point, the default, 'Very Hard' difficulty setting is actually the Very Easy one. The tutorial is there to teach SHMUP veterans Angel at Dusk's mechanics, but at the same time it will explain the basics for those who haven't touch a top-down vertical shooter in their life. The developer's crystal-clear love and understanding of the genre shines through, and it is pretty neat how even experts will actually learn a couple of useful techniques.

Screenshot for Angel at Dusk on PC

It's no secret that the most striking element here is the art style. Imagine if H.P. Lovecraft commissioned H.R. Giger to craft a new eldritch horror, asked him to remove the mechanical aspect, begged him to go easy with the use of penises, and then gave the first sketches to Cronenberg's otaku friend, who sprinkled a little bit of Neon Genesis Evangelion to it all. And then someone added some big boobies. Everything, even monsters made from bones, eyes, flesh, teeth, and sinew, look better when they rock anime-style E Cups. It's awesome, no doubt about it, and there's a little bit of world building around these creepy, organic landscapes, and the alien creatures known as Angels that fly above them. It's a post-apocalyptic, sci-fi tale of humanity's attempt to transcend its mortal limits; a tale that has the same… extreme aura of something like Warhammer 40,000 and then some.

Do you need to read single word of the plot on offer? Not really, because, at the end of the day, this is all about shooting at stuff, while avoiding the stuff that this stuff shoot at you. The gameplay is extremely simple, and the controls work like a dream. One could say that this is probably too simple, and they wouldn't be wrong, yet the frenetic action, coupled with the look and atmosphere of it all, makes Angel at Dusk a very enjoyable experience. Luckily, there is some depth to be found within. You see, the vessel you control evolves over time, and becomes more powerful, but the powerups that help with that, as well as with health regeneration, only drop at sufficient numbers when the Angel gets close to its enemies. It's an addictive, risk/reward system that works wonders in increasing the fun factor.

Screenshot for Angel at Dusk on PC

There are two modes of attack: there's the basic rapid fire and the charged shot. While in most games of its ilk the charged shot is usually a limited ability that happens to be more powerful, here it's main use is actually defensive. Being a Bullet Hell shooter, expect the screen to fill with dangerous things. Since it will sometimes be impossible to avoid incoming fire, bullets will need to be destroyed or pushed away. The charged shot is there for that, but besides taking some time to fire, it's also a lot weaker, and its power diminishes the more bullets it hits. Players need to balance getting close to inflict major damage and increase their upgrading/healing rate and moving away to repel incoming walls of projectiles. Of course, safely "swimming" around in what little space there is left must be mastered as well.

The Angel can grow a lot in size, but there are two things to note. First, there's thankfully no damage from colliding with enemies or the environment. Second, the part that can be hurt is only the bright green, shining centre of the vessel. Does this mean that everything is fine and dandy? No. The rain of bullets that will be thrown at you never becomes unfair, but the screen clutter, mixed with the constantly appearing powerups, flashing text, and gibs of flesh that fly around can many times make it hard to see where's what. It helps that the most important things are colour coded, but even then it's easy to make mistakes when trying out the second difficulty mode. Speaking of which, there should be another option right between Very Hard and 'Extinction,' as the ones at hand feel like 'walk in the park' and 'oh, sweet, merciful God!' respectively.

Screenshot for Angel at Dusk on PC

The game does suffer a bit in terms of replay value, as there are basically two modes. Arcade, the simplest one, has the player choose amongst a couple of vessels, which will then be used to complete a few "campaigns," which in turn unlock pieces of lore. The Original Mode is far more interesting, as additional weapons can be collected and equipped, and there's a third, highly damaging ability that can be used besides the two standard fire modes. Within the Original Mode lies Chronicle, where the path forks after each stage, which is where most will spend their time in order to unlock new weaponry.

No matter which mode you choose, the whole thing will soon get quite repetitive, because the only incentive will be the completion of what there is to complete. After upgrading your basic stats by selling tons of weapons, collecting all story bits, fighting the same bosses more than 20 times, acquiring all achievements, and reaching the end of all modes (and in all difficulty modes), you are pretty much done with Angel of Dusk. The ride was awesome, but you will be more than happy to move over to your next game in line. Not bad for a shooter as simple as this, to be honest.

Screenshot for Angel at Dusk on PC

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10

Come for the almost Body Horror-esque visual style, stay for the fun and adrenaline pumping shooting action! Angel at Dusk might be a bit too simple for most people, as well as too easy for Bullet Hell veterans and too hard for greenhorns, yet it manages to offer quite the enjoyable ride. It mostly suffers in the replayability department, but if found at a good discount, it's solid recommendation for genre fans and not only.




Henteko Doujin





C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   


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