Game: Dust: An Elysian Tail
Platform: Xbox (XBLA), PC, Linux, Mac, PlayStation 4
Steam Link: Dust on Steam
Dev: Humble Hearts
There is a certain unbridled charm that comes with many a game title produced by the “indie” crowd. Dust: An Elysian Tale has all of that “homemade” charm that you expect from a low budget indie game, from the hyper-stylized artwork that permeates the entirety of the experience all the way down to the writing, voice acting, and game play. It carries itself with a unique feel that, in its own artistic style, revives an old school nostalgia for a gaming genre that gets far too little attention in today’s more modern FPS military shooter clogged marketplace.
The mechanics are very fluid. In many games of this genre, mechanics are heavy in the spotlight since there isn’t “much” to them. With simplicity, you have to be very careful with how you implement that simplicity, else it could become confusing or hard to convey. There are many fighting games that struggle with this idea of doing complex maneuvers with simple mechanics. Some do incredibly well, like Skull Girls, while others… not so well, like Soul Caliber 3-current. However, in Dust, they have the right mix of button mania and combo attacks, that you get a sort of “enemy flow”. Visually, a well-placed combo can be quite stunning to watch.
The game is actually rather well written… mostly. That is to say, I feel like it finishes halfway through the story. I was left with a feeling of “OK, great! What’s next?” In the end, it is your classic story of a society trying to dictate who is acceptable and who isn’t. It’s about reclaiming your memories and finding out where you fit in. It does have some nice (although rather cliché by this point) sentiments on racism and prejudice… But in today’s time, I feel that they are topics that should be addressed more in games. Especially with this sort of “it gets better” message that Dust constantly puts forth. There are plenty of games that have depressing post-apocalyptic views on social problems that we face today; it’s very few that have any sort of positive insight like Dust provides. Something that would have been nice to see, would be a decision tree that would allow the player to mold the story how they wish depending on how they reacted to cinema scenes and conversations.
The characters were wonderful. Even your guide, a delightful spitfire of a sprite named Fidget, who could be synonymous to Legend of Zelda’s Navi, isn’t as annoying or overbearing as her predecessor. My favorite character has to be the merchant whom you constantly run into (as your character needs to buy upgrades and such throughout the game, like you do in any action adventure game). The character has such wonderful voice acting and the story written behind that character kept me excited each time I saw his little one man shop on my screen.
The art is good, the game play is good, the story is good but a little too short for my tastes. All in all, Dust: An Elysian Tale was a wonderful game, especially for an indie title. You can find it on Steam, and I would suggest that you do, especially when it participates in Steam’s many many wonderful sales. It’s absolutely fantastic.
One thing that I’m a little surprised about, is how little acclaim this game really gets outside of those “big” scenes. There is a lot that went into this game, and the craftsmanship shows with how much attention to detail and overall love went into every single aspect this game has to offer.
— N00basarus Rex