Note: download hosted on Mega
Added to the lair: 3/26/19 / Updated 4/11/19
Note: Full version (2.0f) with music
Genre: Action / Run-and-gun
Developer: Crack dot Com
Emulator: DOSBox ECE / Retroarch
All hell has broken loose!
If you're at all familiar with the DOS library, there's a good chance you've played or at least heard of Abuse. There were a few solid run and gun games on DOS - stuff like Bio Menace comes to mind - but frankly there was a lot of shovelware garbage in that area too. There's a reason why many of the most fondly remembered DOS games are adventure games, RPGs, and first person shooters - many of the games that share the genre with Abuse have honestly aged very poorly. Even some of the more well-regarded games like Halloween Harry/Alien Carnage I'd argue really aren't that great. Thankfully, Abuse is better than the vast majority of its contemporaries. I'd go as far as to say it's one of the best, if not the best, examples of the genre when it comes to DOS.
The plot is as bog-standard as they come - evil scientists were doing experiments that went horribly awry and now you have to clean up the mess... aaaaaand go! Nobody's playing this game for the story though, so that's okay.
What it lacks in story it more than makes up for in presentation and gameplay. The game looks great. Animation quality is unusually good for this period. It's highly atmospheric, with lots of dark, creepy corridors where xenomorphs... err... Abuse mutations... will be waiting to pop out from every corner to pounce on your face. And pounce they will... usually en masse. Abuse does a great job of keeping you on edge because it constantly vacillates between quiet moments of exploration and sheer chaos as alien hordes just pile on you. It's a brutally difficult game, and you'll feel a sense of relief when you come across save points scattered about the levels. Don't be afraid to reduce the difficulty.
The music and sound effects are generally great, and do a good job of pulling you in. There will inevitably be some moment during play where a hoard of mutants attack you unexpectedly and when you hear them scream you'll just yell "Oh shit!"
There's a wide array of weapons to choose from, and most of them are really fun to use; from standard lasers and rocket launchers to rail guns. It helps that the control scheme - movement via keyboard and aiming/firing via mouse - is actually fairly modern by comparison to many of the games from the era. It's another reason why I think Abuse has aged quite well compared to its peers.
There are a lot of secrets to be found in the levels too - extra weapons, powerups, etc. - so you have to be on the lookout for things that look out of the ordinary. As an aside - why is it that games rarely ever do this anymore? Finding a hidden room in Quake would inevitably elicit a smile and an "Oooh!" from me when I was a kid, and I feel like this really isn't a thing anymore... that's a shame.
Abuse is a good, challenging game that was actually pretty ahead of its time. Check it out!