Gaming Week 20: Dust, an Elysian Tale (XBLA)

FUCKKKKK IT'S SO ABSTRACTTTT

Dust looks pretty cool here

Dust is a very unique game in its ability to portray very serious topics, whilst looking like something a kid would play with its art style. This isn’t a bad thing by any stretch, in fact it adds to Dust’s ability to get your pre-conceived notions and turn them on their head. So although this may look like a game about furries, overlook that and you’ll be transported into a very deep and troubling world where it’s realities aren’t too far from our own.

You start Dust as a person (fox?) that’s just been caught by a tiny flying fox stealing a sword. Turns out that the sword talks, and explains that it can only be welded by it’s true owner, therefore it hasn’t been stollen. You’ll come to know these characters as Dust (your main protagonist and playable character) Fidget (the flying little fox that’s the swords guardian) and the blade of ahrah (Dust’s sentient sword). It may sound like a strange set up, but the characters are very likeable  and with Dust being a blank slate that doesn’t remember anything about his past, it makes for a good set up to a long adventure.

One of the many places Dust shines amongst other platformers is in it’s action, which is stunning both visually and technically. It’s fantastic when you pull of a huge combo, without being hit by any enemies, and whilst knowing it took a bit of skill to pull it off. The combat is very fast and precise, making sure that you’re always on the ball, whilst also being welcoming for new players and casual alike. You have your basic attacks (X to swing sword, and B to spin sword extremely fast.) and a magic attack, courtesy of Fidget, (the Y button.) but where these mix to become a unique action game is the combination of magic and standard attacks. If you press Y to make fidget cast some fireballs, you can then press B to whirlwind these fireballs into many more, attacking and homing in on enemies all over the screen. This makes for massive combos and helps to keep the player experimenting with different attack methods for different enemy encounters. It’s a fantastic take on traditional platforming action, and one I certainly enjoyed playing with.

Dust’ art style is fantastic, all hand drawn and beautifully crafted to make sure the land of Falana is as majestic and dynamic as the gameplay itself. Characters are drawn with exceptional detail, whilst levels look like something out of a painting. To top this, the action maintains a stunning 60fps, ensuring the whole game, from aesthetics to action, are beautifully crafted.

Quests are given during the campaign, and every level (except one at the end of the game) can be returned to and played as many times as you like. It makes sure that you return to areas time and time again, to not only complete quests, but to find hidden items, play hidden dungeons, and level up from defeating many enemies. All of these side missions make for some light-hearted adventure, but its in the story that you’ll see Dust shine through on some very serious topics. Racism, murder, family and culture are all big topics in the main campaign, but not once does it feel out of place. Every thing is explained and broken down, and you can always point parallels to our own world we live in, making for a surreal but enlightening experience.

Pros:

  • Fantastic art style really brings the world of Falana alive
  • Great characters with very deep backgrounds and stories
  • Stylised combat makes for great gameplay

Cons:

  • Combat can be challenging at times, with no direction of what to do

Dust: An Elysian Tail will be coming to Steam/Windows in the coming months, (reports were stating April, but that’s come and past with nothing to show) so I think as soon as it comes out, you should grab yourself a copy. Dean Dodrill took 3 and a half years making this, and it shines through in every aspect.

4/5

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