RELEASE DATE: August 15th, 2012
GENRE(S): Action RPG
DEVELOPER(S): Humble Hearts LLC
DUST AN ELYSIAN TAIL REVIEW
TWO SOULS, FOREVER AT ODDS.
Dust: An Elysian Tail is an Action RPG, in the classic sense of the term, that takes place in a lush cartoon world populated by anthropomorphic rabbits and other, more nefarious, creatures. Each character, and each enemy, in the game is drawn and animated in a way that conveys their personality in every movement. The backgrounds and levels of Dust aren’t static like you often see with hand drawn games, and each serves to make the specific setting come alive with small animations and effects. Many times I caught myself simply staring at the game before remembering I had some enemies to kill.
The Elysian Tail setting, and it’s world of Falana, are planning to play host to an ongoing series, including a feature film that is in production, and Dust, the game, is named for its main character; a skilled warrior who wakes in a forest with no memory of how he arrived there. He’s greeted by Ahrah, a magical talking sword and Fidget, the a small flying creature that guards the sword until it chooses a new bearer.
Simply trying to find out who he is, Dust stumbles upon the troubles of the land which come in the form of an invading army. From here, a many layered story unfolds where everything has much further reaching implications than have been presented by it’s humble beginnings. Since Fidget and Ahrah are always with you, they’re able to advance the ‘lone hero’ story line much more fluidly than simply talking to people in towns can.
Your companions aren’t just hanging around for color commentary though, in combat Fidget and Ahrah lend their specific powers to the racking up of ridiculous combos. Dust is a pretty good swordsman, and Fidget knows a little bit of magic but combined with the sword’s ability to harness the power of storms they can lay waste to hordes of enemies when used properly. The combat system seems very simple at first but you won’t survive if you don’t use a mix of all of your different attacks.
Raising the combo counter into the thousands isn’t just for bragging rights, it ties directly into character progression. The higher your combo score gets, without being broken by an enemy attack, the more experience you’ll earn when you defeat enemies. Raising Dust’s stats isn’t just a matter of experience grinding, you must hunt down treasure and items that enemies drop to fuel the crafting system and build better equipment. Once you collect a new material, you can sell it back to a merchant which adds it to their catalog for future purchase.
The way that Dust: An Elysian Tail ties progression to crafting, and ties both of these to exploration, makes this game truly addictive. I found myself scouring every corner of each screen, in each area to make sure I’d seen everything before moving on and returning once again when granted a new ability. The main story will take you somewhere around ten hours to complete, but if you’re like me you’ll put another four to six in on side quests and treasure hunting.
There are no multiplayer modes in Dust: An Elysian Tail.
A great game is one that engages you instead of dragging you along with it, compelling you to play it longer than is strictly necessary. Dust: An Elysian Tail accomplishes this by executing on all of its elements, while tying them all together into a seamless experience. Beautiful to look at, and fun to play, Dust is the “must have” title in this year’s Summer of Arcade. In fact, it’s just a “must have.”