howl /// Wednesday June 05 05:57 2013

PC - Dust: An Elysian Tale

Never Trust a Talking Sword

For some strange reason this has been a review that has defied its creation. I have been sick with the flu for the last week (which is why this review is so late). I played Dust during that time amongst an assortment of other things that I shouldn't of done instead of just resting. Even now that I'm better, Dust will not coalesce into a coherent review. It is most strange so to hell with it!

Well Fidget, Did I Like It?

Yes, yes I did. When I was growing up my favourite types of games were cutesy style platformers. I was just addicted to them and there was never ending supply of them. Much like now.

What sets Dust: an Elysian Tale apart from its contemporaries is its story and the characters that inhabit it. The story is told through animated character portraits, superb voice acting and the occasional fully animated movie that all combine together with the right mix of humour and gravity. Despite it's anthropomorphic animal designs, its actually quite a dark story.

Fidget, our mouthy flying rat companion, is definitely the star and she knows it, hoarding all the best lines in the story. The way that Fidget pokes fun at Dust when she points out the gamey moments adds to the humour and charm of the game.

The painted artwork feel of the world itself and the cutscenes for the story is not quite up to the high standards of its contemporaries such as "Mark of the Ninja" or "Rayman Origins" but it's certainly impressive that Dust was illustrated and programmed by a single person. The never ending bevy of character portraits however certainly beats most games into the ground with their quality.

So Ahrah What Didn't I Like?

Basically there were little niggles with the gameplay that hold it back from being an outstandingly great game. Its a five chapter game and each chapter pretty much proceeded in the same fashion.

You will start a chapter with your objectives and battle through waves of enemies and puzzle out the surrounding quests. At a certain point you will level and equip up to a threshold where you will mercilessly overpower your enemies and the rest of the level will be able to be completed without much of a problem. The enemies themselves for the most part require little strategy to overcome and are pretty much the same from chapter to chapter, with the meadows being the notable exception. Just beat them till they are dead. Every boss fight can be beaten with the same strategy, with little variation in the way they fight and attack. Only in chapter five did the enemies offer a good challenge. The highly trained soldiers of Gaius have perfected a dash and back-stab attack that can be highly effective in that chapters frenetic action.

The map zoning was another issue. The map is split up into blocks and as you change blocks it generates all the enemies for that block. In some areas when you are performing your lightning tornado corkscrew kartwheel of doom it can be all too easy to fly off the screen and into another another block and cause all the enemies that you were partway through killing to completely respawn with full health. There are barriers to stop you from changing map blocks on the horizontal sides of the map when fighting, but nothing to stop you from changing blocks on the vertical axes, resulting in a few moments of frustration when I would have to start my clearing over again to proceed to my next objective.

The platforming isn't particularly varied either. I lost count of the number of walls I blew apart with those exploding floating eggplants. The world is structured in a Metroidvania way where you need certain abilities to access previously out of reach areas. It was all stuff that I had seen before and it didn't excite me.

So General, What Should We Do?

I liked Dust: An Elysian Tale. Its a good game, but has some minor problems that hold it back from being a great game. You will have a good platform brawling action, light RPG experience that's fun to play. But there may just be a few frustrations along the way...

Below this paragraph in the void of past ideas that you will never see is a much larger list of good and bad points of this game, but for some reason I could not write a coherent narrative with them. What you have read are the highlights, so it is up to you gentle traveller to make of them what you will... and perhaps find a few for yourself.

Edited // Wednesday June 05 05:56 2013 // First Version ///