Review: Dust: An Elysian Tail


Dust An Elysian Tale is a story-rich side scrolling action RPG and the last game in the Summer of Arcade. Developed by Hyperduck Studios, the game follows the titular character Dust and his new companions fidget and Ahrah, a talking sword, as they battle monsters in their quest to uncover Dust’s forgotten past.

The game plays not unlike a classic side scrolling beat-em up or rather a 2D hack and slash and when first starting out you might be forgiven for thinking this is as far as the game goes however if you delve a little deeper you will discover a far richer RPG experience.  Each 2D level is made up of different sections with the occasional path branching off to the top or bottom of the screen and plenty of secret areas for those treasure hunters among you.

[singlepic id=9336 w=640 h=480 float=center]

The game has all the essentials of an RPG: an in-depth story,  XP, a basic level system with the option to upgrade abilities, side-quests, NPC’s, there is even a rudimentary crafting system with blueprints received from sidequests and chests. Merchants can give you the necessary materials, once you have discovered said materials.  All of these features add some real depth to a game that would otherwise be quite basic but still fun

As you progress through the level you will meet various enemies which you will dispatch with your newly found sword.  At first the combat is as simple as mashing the X button but as you move further into the game you will learn simple strings of combos which are so satisfying they’ll keep you glued to the game.  The combat is the single most enjoyable part of the game and feels extremely fluid when stringing together endless attacks, nothing is more satisfying than being presented with a horde of enemies and thus the opportunity for a 200 hit combo.

Combining your various skills works seamlessly however is possible to beat the game purely by jumping and hitting the Y button which unleashes your special attack.  When using your special at ground level  for too long results in hurting yourself, but using it in the air there is no danger of self-harm.  If you decide to go down this route though just be aware that while not harming your character you will be harming your enjoyment of the game by completely bypassing it’s best feature.

[singlepic id=9338 w=640 h=480 float=center]

Sound is great with a full voice acting for all the characters and while the dialogue can be a little stilted or cheesy at times, there are some really great comedic moments to be found.  The voices themselves can be a little grating at times and you will occasionally wish to strangle Fidget with your bare hands, however it is great to see a game like this get a full and varied voice track as it adds so much more depth.  The sound effects are great and provide a real arcade experience which tie in really well with the combat system.  Alex Brandon’s music for the game is straight up classic RPG scoring and really helps set the tone for the game and it’s clear a lot of thought and effort have gone into it, in fact it often reminded me of Bastion if not in style then in feeling.

Graphically speaking I never quite warmed to the game, it’s all meticulously hand painted and animated which gives it an early ‘noughties’ kids cartoon style, and with the exception of the leads the character models are quite tacky with all the friendly NPC’s being humanoid mammals which just reminds me of Arthur – the Nickelodeon cartoon as opposed to the Dudley Moore film. Don’t get me wrong, the levels themselves look great and are visually stunning, but would have been so much more impressive if the friendly NPC’s hadn’t been so awful.  The animations are great however with everything looking very vivid and interactable, objects standing out and things still remain clear when engaged in combat which is great as games like this have a tendency to become a mess of on-screen visuals when battling large groups of enemies.

This game could have been presented as a simple hack and slash and still been well received, however what we have instead is a rich multi-layered gem of an action RPG that continually surprises.  The game isn’t perfect, the childish character models and the possibility to spam the flying attack are issues, but it’s is a great game that refreshes a classic style and has a huge heart. Dust is out today so go give it a try!

Fantastically addictive gameplay which can be undermined by spamming
Great visuals let down at times by character models
Fantastic score that adds real depth
8Final Score

Social Media