Sweet As Syrup: Dust An Elysian Tail Review

Sometimes, a game comes along that is both unique and fun. Something that when compared to other games of its genre, fills you with a strange sense of joy while playing. In this case, the game would be Dust: An Elysian Tail. This interesting and quirky little Indie game features anthropomorphic animals, lots of sword-swinging, and an enjoyable (yet somewhat generic) story more to play through. I present to you all an Indie game that you won’t soon forget and let’s see if Dust is worth sweeping through.

Need To Know Information

Dust was originally envisioned as an animated film titled “An Elysian Tail”. While in the planning stages of the film, the man behind the project (Dean Dodrill) decided to create a game to go along with it. This game became Dust and was planned to only take three months to complete. Dean worked on the project mostly on his own and it ended up taking three and a half years to complete. The game was eventually released in the summer of 2012 to critical acclaim. Despite this, the animated film still hasn’t been finished or completed. The game is available on several platforms, but I’ll mainly be looking at the PC version of the game.

DustAETbox
From Dust to Dust and Ashes to Ashes. (Dust is property Humble Hearts and Microsoft Studio)

Plot

In this game you play as this squirrel-like character named Dust. Our titular hero awakens with no memories of his own. Alone in a strange land, Dust must find out who he is and what his purpose is. Dust is joined by a talking sword named Ahrah and a cute flying creature known as a “Nimbat” who happens to be named Fidget. The three of you set out on a quest across the land as you discover the secrets of an ancient war and uncover startling secrets about Dust’s past.

Generally, I enjoyed the plot a lot. However, it felt a little generic and predictable at times. Certain characters that gave you quests felt flat or generic and some story-based missions were just really bland. Despite that, most of the plot to the game is satisfying and is punctuated with some fairly good voice-acting and writing. Still, just be warned you won’t be getting an epic movie-styled story and that some of the writing in later parts of the game can a bit stale.

Gameplay

The game plays similar to Castlevania or Muramasa: The Demon Blade. You control Dust as you move around on a side-scrolling 2-dimensional plane. You attack using Ahrah and can use a variety of a different attacks. On top of this, you can use Fidget’s magic powers to amplify your attacks. The combat is easy enough to get hang of and you’ll find yourself doing 1000 hit combos in no time. On top of this, the game also employs an equipment system. You can acquire many healing items, equipment pieces, and even enhancements for your weapon over the course of the game. By acquiring blueprints, you can use the items you find in the world to create new equipment.

Likewise, the game also has an item shop that cane supply you with materials or healing items to aid you on your mission. The game also has some challenge missions that can get pretty grueling at times. Completing these challenges nets you much better rewards then the ones you earn in the main game. The game itself takes you through 5 different chapters which would most likely you collectively 8-10 hours to complete. The game features a fair amount of platforming sections, which get annoying if you aren’t used to this style of game. Some of these I found to be a bit irritating, especially the ones in the ice-caves.

After completing the main quest, there’s still a lot of areas to explore. The game is packed with secrets and side-content, which you can only access by gaining special abilities in the main quest. It provides enough incentive to go back and try to 100% everything. Something else I want to touch on is that the game employs a leveling system. Unfortunately, it’s pretty bare-bones in terms of character progression. You can only invest points into a set number of stats. In some cases, trying to max a single stat will make you so overpowered the game stops being fun. An example of this is when I maxed out my magic skill and all of my fireballs and lightning attacks became insane overpowered. All in all though, I found the gameplay to very satisfying.

Visual Stimuli

The game looks fantastic! Areas are luscious and a treat to look at. On top of this, the in-game character models look fantastic and each character looks amazing. Sadly, the cut-scenes do not feature this trend. The talking-head cut-scenes feature the characters in a kind of generic art-style. These cut-scenes make the characters look like somewhat amateurish fan-art. Despite this, I still think the game looks fantastic.

The game bolsters a great soundtrack that really helps amp up the feeling of this fantasy world. The voice acting in this game could use a little bit of work though. Most characters were well voice-acted, but there were sadly a few VAs that I felt soured the experience. I barely experienced glitches and found the frame-rate to be very solid. Generally though, the game looks and sounds great though despite the little hiccups.

In Summation

The game has extremely fun gameplay and a solid experience. The graphics look great despite some of the cutscene models looking kind of terrible. The game features solid action, yet has a rather bland leveling system. Despite some shortcomings though, I found myself thoroughly enjoying my time with Dust: An Elysian Tail. That’s why I can say without a doubt that the game is as sweet as syrup and definitely worth of an 8/10. I highly reccomend Dust if you’re a fan of Metroidvania-styled games and awesome hack-and-slash gameplay.

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