Genre: 2D Action/Adventure RPG Platforms: XBLA/PC
Developer: Humble Hearts Publisher: Microsoft Studios
Dust: An Elysian Tail is a 2D action/adventure RPG released last year on XBLA. It received high scores from all around the internet, with our own Jamie Briggs giving it a stunning 9/10. Last month, Dust made its way to the PC market as well, via Steam, and I had the immense pleasure of experiencing it. Dust: An Elysian Tail is truly a gem among games; something which everyone should play. Here’s why…
The game starts with you taking the role of Dust, a hero with an unknown past. An intriguing sword with unknown purposes is given to you (Ahrah), as well as a companion (Fidget), after which, a journey of discovery and salvation is ready to start. It’s an interesting narrative of discovering ones past while saving the land, with the story keeping you guessing all the way to a pretty unexpected turn of events. In addition, the ending is one of the most emotional ones I’ve ever experienced, and even though it closes this chapter, it’s obvious that there will be more adventures to go on.
This being an RPG, you will level up to upgrade the usual statistics like health, attack, defense, collect items which are dropped by your dead enemies or found in hidden locked chests which will also upgrade your statistics (armor, rings, pendants), craft new weapons from items found exploring via blacksmiths, and accept new quests.
You earn new fighting abilities as you progress through the story, abilities like dashing, sliding, using Fidget’s power-attacks, or creating a storm with your sword. It’s also important to note that certain areas won’t be available until you acquire some of these abilities.
Dashing will deplete your energy bar, as well as using Fidget’s power-attacks. Combine those with the sword’s secondary attack, and you’ll bring beautiful types of storms of pain to your enemies.
Challenge arenas are present throughout the game, testing your combat abilities against a timer, for which you’ll be rewarded with different items to enhance your statistics.
One of the small annoyances I found was that the map is confusing because it doesn’t clearly say where a particular quest can be solved. This leads to confusion and unnecessary backtracking. Combine that with the fact that enemies respawn every time you enter an area, and looking for a certain amount of spears, for example, can get frustrating.
Friends are hidden throughout levels, and finding them rewards you with bonuses to your statistics. This isn’t something important, though it did bring a smile on my face when I rescued the likes of Fez or Super Meat Boy.
Enemies come in a big variety, and some of them even require a certain tactic to meet their demise. The environments are also equally varied, ranging from mountains, to villages, underground tunnels, snow storms or volcanoes.
The graphics are gorgeous. The forests, villages, the characters – they all look like they’ve been ripped straight from a Saturday morning cartoon. Speaking of which, the animated cutscenes are equally stunning. I only wish there were more of them.
The voice acting is also great. I especially like Dust’s constant frustration between discovering his past, and trying to cope with the fact that, sometimes, you just can’t save everyone. Additionally, I simply can’t deny Fidget’s charm.
As great as the graphics is the soundtrack. It gives you a certain sense of adventure; it makes you feel like you’re on a critical journey of discovery and redemption.
The story loses its momentum about half-way through the game, and even though the combat is fast, fluid, and flashy, because of Dust’s limited set of combat techniques, the gameplay can get a bit tedious. Fortunately though, it picks up the pace nicely after that particular part.
Dust: An Elysian Tail is an amazing experience that shouldn’t be missed by anyone. It’s gorgeous, it has loveable characters, great voice-acting, fast and fluid combat, amazing soundtrack, and it’s also quite long for a $15 game. Sure, no game is perfect, but what Dust presents here, is something absolutely worthy of everyone’s time and money. BUY IT!
In addition to being the PC editor, Vlad Pintea is also a chief of news and reviews here at Analog Addiction, and sometimes he even speaks his own mind. You can contact him via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com, My IGN, on Skype, Steam (all at the same name: vlad94pintea) or Facebook (Vlad Pintea). Have a good day, and remember: stay calm and keep on gaming!