Game: Dust: An Elysian Tail
Platform: PS4, (Xbox 360)
Developer: Humble Hearts
PS4 Release: October 7, 2014
Reminiscent of many great side scrolling action adventure games Dust: An Elysian Tail offers a frenzy of action, beautiful levels, and challenging boss battles. The most intriguing aspect of Dust is its deep adult themed story and how well it handles character development. I completed this game thrice, twice on the Xbox 360 and once on the PS4 so you can say I’m a resident Dust expert. For the purpose of this review we will put the PS4 version into judgment – Let’s Talk.
By far the best part of Dust is its story. The main character, Dust is a rabbit dressed in ancient monk styled clothing who has lost his memory and spends most of the game trying to pick up the pieces of his tortured past. Dust is joined by a furry flying companion named Fidget as well as a mysterious talking sword named Ahrah. Fidget acts as Dust’s assistant in the game as well as the comic relief and Ahrah is the sword of wisdom that knows more about who Dust really is than he is willing to share. Our three heroes really mesh well and each personality is distinct yet compliment each other to the point that they tend to balance and off balance each other all at once. You will experience some on point comedic moments as well as tear jerking dramatic ones. Humble Hearts Studios really put their heart and soul into the character creation of these three.
…the story begins to reveal the intents and themes embedded within the game in such a way that it keeps you interested and guessing every step of the way
The world is filled with anthropomorphic animals that may seem too cartoony at first but don’t let that fool you as there are some deep elements to the story of Dust that will have you fully enthralled in what is going on as well as get you quickly attached to its characters. Not only must Dust look for clues that will help put his life back together, but him and his companions must stand up to the tyranny of resident bad guy, General Gaius and his army. On top of that, they must combat an overwhelming amount of monsters that are controlled by a mysterious element that threaten all of the land’s inhabits.
As you can see there are several story elements woven together and all sides have their own perspective. With all of that the story never gets confusing or jumbled together as the pacing is on point. You start off not knowing who you are or what you are doing then the story begins to reveal the intents and themes embedded within the game in such a way that it keeps you interested and guessing every step of the way. Of course you won’t find any spoilers here but I assure you that you will pick up on familiar real life themes that range from racism to eradication of species. That’s it I’ve said too much…see for yourself.
Second to the story, which is rare in a game of this type, is the gameplay. While the gameplay offers various combos and upgrades to your beat down enemies with your sword and fist techniques it does get a bit repetitive. Melee attacks are not the extent of Dust’s capabilities he can also tag team with Fidget who performs various magical attacks such as fire and electricity which when combined with Dust’s spinning attack does major damage to the majority of enemies on the screen. There are also solid RPG elements in the form of upgrades to your character’s power, defense, and magical level (by way of Fidget) as well as charms that help increase these key properties combined with minor crafting mechanics.
What gets repetitive about the combat is the fact that Dust can only perform a few combos so after a while it really becomes a rinse, lather, repeat motion for every encounter. There is a parry mechanic that is built in to break up the monotony of the combat but I feel like its usefulness wares thin in most scenarios. There are a wide range of different enemy types ranging from mobs of trolls, hulking beasts, and aerial assassins and different areas offer tougher enemies that if you don’t come prepared for you will end up flat on your back quick – DOA style. Dust does offer a challenge, but nothing an experienced gamer can’t handle, even on the hardest difficulty.
Aside from fighting monsters and Gaius’s soldiers you also have the option of doing many challenge and side missions. The cool part about the side missions is that each are actually meaningful and have a mini story that range from silly, yet welcome comedy to serious heart wrenching moments. There go those hearts again.
There is no debating that the art style in this game is really something to brag on. Some levels show off the vivid green colors of a tropical forest while others highlight giant stone statues built in honor of Gaius and his soldiers.
The graphics are crystal clear indeed, but the true test if a side scrolling game has visual prowess or not is by its snow level. An old school gamer like myself has been appreciating snow levels since the days of Sonic the Hedgehog and Dust’s snow levels do not disappoint.
- Beautiful bright white snow that cascades over the landscape
- Blizzards that impair sight as you traverse over the frozen tundra
- The back drop of the night sky mixed with the sparkling white snow
Yes, the visuals on the snow levels along with all the others within Dust: An Elysian Tail makes it close to perfect in the visual department in my opinion.