Always been partial to 2D side-scrollers. I don’t think it is predicated on the fact that I come from the earlier gaming society, rather on the fact is just seems to feel like the unofficial “Godfather” of the gaming genres. I knew very little about Dust: An Elysian Tail before playing it and I think that benefited my experience with the game because I had no preemptive assertions of how it was supposed to play or look. It is actually pretty amazing that the creator of Dust: An Elysian Tail is one man. Did all the work himself, which he deserves a high-five for accountability haha. Either way, the story is pretty simple. You’re some Looney Tune reject who wakes up in a magical forest not knowing who or what you are, only to be followed by the female anime version of Tails (go figure) and a ridiculous talking sword. It’s your slighty typical “hack and slash” side-scroller with some elements from other genre’s sprinkled in. It’s not a long game but it definitely entertains for the duration of your play time. Let’s hit the jump and check out the Dig It’s/Dog It’s.
- Love the art design. I’m not a huge fan of cutesy, current “cartoon” art but I love the color pop and effects this game has. While they may seem standard, the game has a deep homage to late 90s/early 2000s saturday morning cartoons. I honestly cannot think of many games today that incorporate hand-drawn set pieces and character art. It’s actually nice to just see someone take that much time to flesh out their visions for a “weekend” game. The graphics are not the most amazing thing on the block but they do not feel dated or washed out. They are smooth, flowing and adds a nice visual “exclamation” on how the combat works within the game. The visuals of Dust definitely give the game a certain “edge” to it.
- Loved the combat. It’s simple, yes but that is what I want from a side-scroller. Endless baddies to smack the crap out of with a talking sword. The small additions you get as you progress through the same add a nice mix of “combo-ing” such as the dash and counters. Obliterate, loot, repeat. Nothing wrong with that. Some of the power ups or “RPG” elements add a continuous mix Most of the time simple things like this are quite cathartic. It is not necessary to always have every button do something. Dust just gets it right.
- The leveling system and crafting are a nice touch. I don’t think the game needed something like this to keep it fresh throughout the play-through (or multiple play-throughs) but it works well. Kill a baddie, find a blueprint and get the parts needed to create a weapon of total termination. The leveling system is simple as well. 4 areas of improvement: Health, Magic, Attack and Defense. There really isn’t much depth to it but like I said previously, not every game needs a Elder Scrolls customization depth to it. Simple things are just as great when done right.
- The levels hit all the marks for “homage to games before it”. The constant change adds a nice flair when they could have just had one or two level types with different visuals. Again, for one man to make this game, anything extra is a huge plus.
- I though the boss battles were way to easy. Spam here, spam there and you can make it through any of the unfortunately “few” major battles. I was hoping for a more difficult challenge overall but the game is actually quite easy once you create one of the more powerful weapons (which can happy pretty early on). There are times you get a bit overwhelmed with hordes of enemies but jumping around and throwing magic is always the best way out of the situation.
- I was really disappointed their was no “New Game+” at the end. Don’t make me go back and get all those weapons again, as some of them were difficult due to chance of an enemy dropping the right item. It would have really added to the longevity of this game but I don’t have much motivation to replay it.
- The story was pretty boring. I stopped paying attention to it early on, at least the parts you could skip. The dialogue also become extremely tedious and obnoxious. I don’t know if the writing in the game was a major focus but maybe next time have a friend help in that department. It was terrible but it could have been much much better.
For one man to create all of this in a “short” time period is astonishing and should inspire others to push themselves in their game creation. Dust: An Elysian Tail isn’t GOTY material nor will it redefine the industry. It’s a fun game, with nice old school traditions and something to spend a weekend playing when it’s too freaking hot to go outside. $15 dollars for an XBL Arcade game is a bit high but when summer provides little in terms of new gaming releases, it is definitely worth the look. The art, the style, the gameplay and the simple fact that it plays like all of your old favorites should be enough to entice you into a weekend foray with Dust: An Elysian Tail.