One thing the gaming community has not had much of lately are “Metroidvania” style games. Games that allow you to explore, beat up gobs of enemies, and on occasion, level up. Well new to the block is Dust: An Elysian Tail. But does the game do the genre justice, or does it fall short? Join me as we go into detail about this game and what lies within.
Dust: An Elysian Tail is being released on Xbox Live arcade, for 1200 points. The game was developed over a 4 year time span by a one man development team, Dean Dodrill. Dean is responsible for everything you see in the game, and there is a lot to see. It won Microsoft’s 2009 Dream.Build.Play competition’s grand prize, which is what truly got Dust to this point.
Dust is by no measure a small game. Every area of this game is expansive, giving a player plenty of chances to explore. Every area is hand drawn and is extremely beautiful and colorful. Never did I get tired of looking at Dust for a second. The animation of the characters are also extremely well done, fluid and graceful. Most of the story plays out with characters occupying either side of the screen and talking to each other. What cut scenes there are, are generally short and well done considering it was all by one man.
Speaking of the story of this game, it does not disappoint. You play as a character named Dust, who wakes up with no memory of who he is or of anything really. He is joined by a companion named Fidget, and a talking magical sword called Ahrah. The journey starts as a story of discovery, and soon turns into a multifaceted quest to save the world. There is more to the story, but I dare not talk about it else I’d give some pretty big spoilers away. However the story is compelling with some twists in there that are unexpected.
A game can look great, and have a great story, but what about the gameplay? Well I am pleased to tell you that the gameplay is not lacking one bit. It’s simplistic yet rewarding. There are no crazy complicated combos, but you make your own using the few combos the game gives you for your melee attacks, dust storm ability, and magic attacks from Fidget. This can get rather hectic, as you zip from one side of the screen to the other, racking up gigantic combos. More than a few times, I’veI reached 1000+ combos. It’s fast, visceral, and satisfying. The controls are quick and responsive. I never found Dust doing anything I did not want him to do.
There is plenty of exploring to be done in this game, secret areas and hidden items to be found. On top of the exploring there are quite a few side quests to do. Some that you get early on can’t even really be done till much later in the game when you get abilities that allow you to get to certain areas.
The music, done by Hyperduck Studios, is to me likely the weakest part of this game. That’s not to say the music is bad, or that it doesn’t fit. It does, it’s just that sometimes it doesn’t stand out to much in certain parts. It does get intense, and does help set the mood for every part of the game. Perhaps excluding the fight with the final boss, I found it hard remembering what the music was like in one area opposed to another, other than knowing it fit well to that section of the game. The rest of the sound direction is well done, combat sounds hectic, and brutal, some of the ambient sounds to an area help with the atmosphere.
Final Verdict: Buy
Dust: An Elysian Tail is a fantastically well-made game. It is beautiful, it plays great, and has a compelling story that at times is extremely emotional. It has shout outs to other games and some great humor to boot. It is a fantastic game that no one should not pass up.
BUY: These are titles that of upper quality and deserve your hard earned cash at full price. Don’t wait to enjoy these titles and get them as soon as possible.