|ToriJ Lotus Crystal|
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Kansas City, KS
|Subject: Dust: An Elysian Tail Review Thu Jan 16, 2014 11:46 pm|| |
Dust: An Elysian Tail is an action, role-playing game available for download on Xbox Live Arcade and Steam. It stars Dust, a young adventurer who has loss his memories and is greeted by a talking sword named the Blade of Ahrah and his guardian Fidget, whom travels alongside you while you try to battle your amnesia, possessing the ability to tear down the fourth wall. I'll be looking at the PC version today.
Controls: A and D moves you to the left and right, W allows you to look up (also used to talk to people, shop and to save your game) and S to look down, space bar is the jump button and J and K perform combo, the left and right mouse buttons can also be used to perform different attacks and combos and the side button (if you have it) allows Fidget to perform her range attack. If you don't have that just press L. F cycles through different projectiles and H uses health items. Q and E are used for dashing, tab opens up the inventory and Esc brings up the pause menu.
First off, this game looks fantastic. It pulls you into a fantasy world where everyone is based off of animals and the animation looks amazing. It's your classic 2D side-scrolling with your health bar on the top left corner of the screen, with a number indicating your character's level, an energy meter above your health and a mini-map on the top right corner of the screen which also highlights a combo number while attacking enemies. Fight, speak to NPCs, follow the main quest and pick up plenty of side-quests along the way and level up. Enemies range from ground creatures, with or without weapons, aerial monsters that will swoop down, bombs you need to take out from a distance and creatures that flow through the air like they're underwater spitting projectiles and looking like a jellyfish just as a couple of examples. After killing them they'll disappear and leave behind gold and various items you can collect and check out in your inventory.
When you talk to a person the screen fades and then you get a close-up of the character that's speaking at the time and the voice acting in the game is perfect. In the close-ups you can see Dust is a, uh, a fox? I'm going to say fox. Fidget looks like a furry yellow bat flapping about and the rest are based off various animals I'm sure you could find in a forest somewhere. Same goes for bosses like the lizard called Fuse. While talking you'll some times have dialog option to select to change the course of conversation as is the case for pretty much every single RPG in existence, well every RPG that I've played, anyway. Your environments can change at any time as you travel, I'm talking about changes in the weather. It can be sunny one moment, windy the next and then stormy. I'd say they could benefit from a weather forecast, but considering they seldom get it right anyway they're probably better off as they are now.
You have your standard attack that you can spam to take out enemies and as you progress through the game you'll find new upgrades to add to your arsenal of super special awesome fighting moves! Like a spin sword attack named Dust Storm that threatens to give you an arm cramp! You can also jump and perform that spin-attack in mid-air after you get the upgrade. You can even combine attacks like using the spin-attack to strengthen Fidget projectiles. Fidget can also get more projectiles later in the game.
One click of the tab button to bring up the inventory and we can look at the character menu, which highlight your maximum health, attack power, defense power, the potency of Fidget's projectiles and the Dust Storm, luck, your level and how many experience points you need to make it to the next level.
Then we have... your actual inventory, which also shows some of the same stats under the character menu but adds how much money you have too. The items are separated by quick item slot, armor, augment, items & keys, left ring, pendant and right ring. Quick item slot deals in food that is used to replenish health, armor is armor to raise your defense, augment is for items that sharpens your blade to raise your attack, item & keys is for general items and then the keys are things you find on your journey to open up treasure chests, something that Fidget can also help you find as she senses them when they're close, and rings and pendants you equip also have varying effects on your stats depending on the type.
The map menu show, well, the map. It also highlights treasure, plundered, save points, shops, challenges and your designation in icons below the map while also showing you how much region you explored and how many items you've collected. Move the map by taking your cursor to it and holding down the left mouse button.
After that is your quest menu which shows all the quests you're doing, separated by active, completed and notes. Whenever you can't remember a quest just tab away and have at it. Materials are things you collect that can be used for forging new weapons and equipment and to give you some things to sell. Stats shows you how long you've been playing, the total completion percentage, world explored, treasure found, max hit chains, enemies vanished and friends that were found.
Once you click on a chest to unlock it the game takes you to a new screen to begin an unlocking mini-game. All you have to do then is press the button that shows up on the screen until the chest unlocks and reap the benefits!
Hanging in certain spot is a purple exploding fruit which you can blow through the air via a Dust Storm and then use against enemies or obstacles that stand in your way which you can't destroy with just using your sword. You have to be quick while doing it or otherwise the fruit will explode before you get to said obstacle. Fortunately the fruit also grows back in the spot you find it in so you can always try again. Some times you'll have to do this in order to progress.
Scattered throughout Elysian are shops where the shopkeeper is a hooded figure who calls you stranger. Jeez, I wonder where they could have gotten that from... In addition to buying and selling items the shopkeeper tells you if you brought him materials (which can be brought to any shop) he'll stock a certain quantity of those fresh materials which can come in handy later.
Once you leave an area you're taken to the screen of a map which show each area you have available and the word 'new' will flash next to an area when you unlocked a new location to explore. You can either navigate it with the directional buttons and press enter or use the mouse and left click on the location/city you want to go to.
The story is engaging and the characters are all quite lively, which is brought home even more by how well the voice acting is performed. I also really like how one of the villains flip the tables on you and paints you to be the monster killing his children, leading to a brief moment of doubt where you wonder if you're really doing the right thing here and that's something I always appreciate in stories when the line between good and evil are blurred.
Cons: The game can lean a little on the repetitive side when it comes to running around, being dog piled on by a bunch of monsters and then smashing the buttons to power through them.
The actual boss battles in the game feel a little underwhelming. They don't come across as boss battles, they feel like a more drawn out regular enemy if that makes any sense, and after the first boss fight with the giants they DO become regular enemies and they aren't that much harder than your standard monster you fight through.
I found a couple of glitches in the game. The first one got me stuck in a wall, though I'm not too certain if that was a glitch or on purpose. I got a key out of it! So there's your silver lining. Another time while playing the game and holding down the D button I let go of it to find the character was still moving in that direction, and when I tried to get him to stop he wouldn't. I kept having to push random buttons to finally get the character to stop and back to normal again.
Conclusion: Dust is another fine example of just how far indie developers have come over the years. The gameplay is fun if the repetitiveness doesn't bother you, the animation and voice acting is among the best I've seen and the characters are all likeable. If you enjoy action role- playing games, fantasy and animation then this is a good game to try and it offers a lot of content given that it only sets you back fifteen dollars when it's not on sale.
Final Score: 7/10
Now reviewing video games and movies because why not?