ImaJAN Media Network
MeltedJoystick Home
   Games  Members
Search +
Searching... Close  
Are you sure you want to delete this comment?
  
 
  Login Using Facebook
Twitter
 
     

Nelson Schneider's Video Game Reviews (391)

view profile + 
 
Valkyria Chronicles 4 5/5
Ninja Gaiden ( Shadow W... 1/5
Super Mario Land 2.5/5
The Messenger 3.5/5
Super Mario Land 2: 6 G... 2/5
Super Mario Maker 2 3/5
Pillars of Eternity II:... 4/5
Sundered 3/5
Iconoclasts 3/5
Divinity: Original Sin 2 4.5/5
Heroes of the Monkey Ta... 4/5
Lands of Lore III 2.5/5
Lands of Lore II: Guard... 1/5
Lands of Lore: Throne o... 2/5
Rage 2 4/5
EnHanced 3.5/5
Blossom Tales: The Slee... 3.5/5
Xenoblade Chronicles 2 2.5/5
Far Cry 5 4/5
Jotun 2/5
Armada 4/5
RiME 2.5/5
Song of the Deep 4.5/5
Shadowrun: Hong Kong 4/5
Destiny 2 4/5

Prev 25  |  Next 25
 

Dust: An Elysian Tail   PC (Steam) 

Don’t Fear the Tail    5/5 stars

“Dust: An Elysian Tail” (“Dust”) is the inaugural Indie development effort of Humble Hearts, with the majority of the work on the game having been done by Humble Hearts founder, Dean Dodrill. Dodrill began the development cycle for “Dust” with the intention of releasing it on the Xbox Live Indie Games Channel. That plan changed, however, when early builds of the game snagged the developer an official contract with Microsoft Game Studios in 2009.

It is definitely a good thing that Microsoft picked “Dust” out of the… dust… and gave Dodrill some special attention, as the Xbox Live Indie Games Channel only rarely produces anything of value, with the only major successes besides “Dust” being Zeboyd Games’ pair of retro-style RPGs. It is further a good thing that Microsoft didn’t lock Humble Hearts into any kind of permanent exclusivity contract, as “Dust” is not the type of game that would appeal to the typical Xbox fan, but a fantastical adventure that deserves to be on as many digital platforms as possible.

Presentation
“Dust” is a glorious, vibrant, hand-drawn game where everything, from environments to characters, looks like the result of painstaking and loving attention to detail. The characters that populate the world of “Dust” are all ‘funny animals,’ like those seen in Walt Disney’s early animation efforts. Unfortunately, due to the decision to go with anthropomorphic animals for characters, many gamers (specifically those in the Xbox userbase that “Dust” initially targeted) will simply yell, ‘FURRIES!!!1!’ and dismiss the game out of hand. Those who can get past the initial display of not-quite-furries in “Dust” will find themselves treated to an animated feast that can stand toe-to-toe with the beautiful 2D art from George Kamitani and Vanillaware.

The audio in “Dust” is high quality as well, despite the fact that Dean Dodrill had to farm it out to third-parties. Every character is fully voiced by competent voice actors, with the titular Dust and his sidekick, Fidget, receiving both the most spoken lines and the best performances. The soundtrack, which was provided by HyperDuck SoundWorks, is both expansive and distinctive, as well as pleasant to the ears.

Story
“Dust” follows the exploits of the titular Dust – a blue, fox-like person – who finds himself dressed in samurai garb in the middle of a field with no memories of how he got there or, indeed, who he is. Dust is immediately confronted by a talking sword, the Sword of Arah, and its guardian beast, a small, flying ‘Nimbat’ named Fidget. The sword speaks cryptically about its own purpose and its relationship with Dust, but ensures him that they will need to work together in order for Dust to figure out who he is.

Together, Dust, Arah, and Fidget set out into a wilderness filled with strange reptilian monsters before coming across a small village that is under attack by the creatures. As Dust finds himself thrust into the role of protector of the people, he also finds himself drawn into a wide-ranging war that ultimately is tied to the very core of his being.

“Dust” features plenty of interesting non-player characters, memorable sidequests, and a compelling main quest that plays out over five chapters. The pacing of the narrative and the rate at which mysteries are revealed along with Dust’s lost past and memories show a great skill in storytelling on the part of Humble Hearts. Between the compelling plot and likeable characters, I found it difficult to tear myself away from the world of “Dust” until the very end.

Gameplay
“Dust” is yet another among the many Metroid-vania style Action/Adventure games that feature 2D sidescrolling and platforming across a large, inter-connected world filled with secrets and hidden power-ups. “Dust” also implements a much faster-paced and combo-based battle system than most other Metroid-vania games – the only other game of this type I can think of that employs combo-based combat is “Valdis Story: Abyssal City.” Finally, “Dust” is on the bandwagon of adopting RPG mechanics into Action games in order to provide depth and limited customization.

“Dust” features fairly simple controls. The d-pad or left stick controls movement, A is for jumping, B fires Fidget’s projectiles, X performs a standard attack, Y performs a special attack (called the Dust Storm), and the right stick controls dodging to the left or right. Of course, just writing down the control layout for the game doesn’t do justice to just how quick, responsive, and mechanically sound the combat is. Normally, I am not a fan of combo-centric or twitchy-action battles in my Action/Adventure games. “Dust’s” combat just clicked with me and at no point did I ever feel like Dust wasn’t doing what I was trying to make him do. “Dust” has truly set a new bar for responsiveness in Action melee combat.

The RPG elements in “Dust” are fairly limited, but are executed flawlessly. Killing enemies grants Dust experience points, plus every enemy drops money and/or loot. Getting a high combo number grants a multiplier to the experience points earned during that combo streak. Gaining a level grants the player a skill gem that can be spent upgrading one of four attributes: Health, Attack, Defense, and Fidget. Health grants Dust more hit points, Attack and Defense grant more of their respective stat, and Fidget grants increased power to the projectiles fired by Dust’s Nimbat sidekick (which are essential in combo-ing).

Dust can equip a handful of gear, including a weapon augment, armor, a necklace, and two rings (along with a quick-slot for a healing item). Equipment can be found in treasure chests, dropped by enemies or crafted using blueprints (which are, themselves, found in chests or dropped by enemies). The crafting system is typical for a game with random drops, with each blueprint requiring Dust to get his hands on a specific number of specific ingredients. HOWEVER, where “Dust” goes oh-so right with this particular gameplay mechanic is the fact that Dust can sell these random bits of monster debris to merchants who will then SEEK OUT MORE FOR HIM TO BUY! Instead of grinding against the same enemy spawn over and over as has been the tradition since this particular crafting mechanic was introduced, the player in “Dust” need only grind a single instance of any given crafting material in order to be awash in that material in the near future. Sure, it costs gold to buy the materials that merchants stock, but gold is VERY easy to earn in-game since every enemy drops it and it is trivial to acquire rings that boost the gold drop rate significantly.

Overall
It isn’t often that a game manages to excel in every area. It is even rarer among Indie games, where talent pools and budgets are inherently limited. “Dust: An Elysian Tail” has that rare combination of lush visuals, a compelling narrative, and perfectly-polished gameplay that comes as close to perfection as any game can.

Presentation: 5/5
Story: 5/5
Gameplay: 5/5
Overall (not an average): 5/5

 

 


Recent Comments
Comment On Review

 
 
Log In
 
For members wanting to use FB to login, click here
remember me
 
 

What Members Are Doing

Comments about...

New Game Reviews

Soulcalibur VI game review by Nelson Schneider
Marvel: Ultimate Alliance ... game review by Chris Kavan
Star Trek: Bridge Crew game review by Chris Kavan
Owlboy game review by Nelson Schneider
Battletech game review by Nelson Schneider
Soldner-X 2: Final Prototy... game review by Hurain
Mass Effect: Andromeda game review by Megadrive
Dead Cells game review by dbarry_22

New Game Lists

Backlog Backburner by Nelson Schneider
Games I Own: Switch by dbarry_22
Top PlayStation 4 Games by Megadrive
Top Game List by SIngli6
Games I Want To Play by Shaneo99
My Backlog by Chris Kavan
Backlog by Matt
Top GameCube Games by Batgirl1979

 

 

 

Contact Us Public Relations MeltedJoystick Friends    

Advertise and Business

Contacts Us

Jobs

About us

SiteMap

 

Support Us

FAQ and Help

News and Press

Terms of Use

Privacy

Hitfix.com

Amazon.com

OVGuide.com

   
Are you sure you want
to delete this review?