Preview: Dust: An Elysian Tail
What if I told you — cue Morpheus meme — that there exists a game so eloquently precise and exceptionally perfect, that it becomes the game other games try to be? The game that takes all the other games, and shoves them into a paper bag. And what if I told you that this game was developed by a single person?
Name: Dust: An Elysian Tail
Genre: Action RPG
Platforms: Xbox 360
Developers: Humble Hearts
Publishers: Microsoft Studios
Release Date: 15 August 2012 (Today!)
Dust: An Elysian Tail is an indie title developed by Humble Hearts. Who are Humble Hearts? Well, his name is Dean Dodrill (not to be confused with a certain executive editor). Yes, it’s just the one person. It’s absolutely staggeringly mindblowing then when I tell you that this game will probably be the indie title to own, this year.
And from a single man. (Well, I don’t mean relationship-wise. I’m sure he has a lovely partner.)
Dust: An Elysian Tail — from here on in simply Dust, because short form, and yes it’s ‘tail’ not ‘tale’ — started off life as a game designed for the Xbox 360 Indie Games channel, using Microsoft’s XNA development toolkit. Later that year (2009) Microsoft held their Dream.Build.Play Challenge and Dodrill entered and went on to win, even against some arguably better competition. The result was a contract for an Xbox LIVE Arcade release, which was quickly snapped up as production moved towards a late 2011 full release, however some delays led to the game’s release being held off until 2012. Today, to be precise.
Now that it’s finally upon us, allow me the pleasure of instructing you to switch on your Xbox 360, assuming you have one, head over to the Games Marketplace (it helps if you’re connected to the internet), find Dust: An Elysian Tail, purchase it (it helps if you have the 1,200 Magical Sexy Points it costs), download it (it helps if you have 600MBs of hard drive space (it helps if you have a hard drive)) and then play it. You may proceed to thank me in the comments.
At its core, Dust is an action RPG with brawler elements. It’s a side-scrolling adventure that mixes quirky comedic elements with engaging storytelling and epilepsy-inducing visuals. It truly is a game that must be played to be fully understood.
Use the pictures in this preview and the video above if you really need more convincing but know that this game has attracted loads of attention from pretty much every big-name gaming-related website in existence and it’s quite simply a crime that more people do not yet know of it.
What’s immediately noticed in Dust, especially from the pictures here, is the visual fidelity and vibrance. This game is pretty to look at. It’s like that girl you liked in high school but never had the scrotal magnitude to ask out, or that guy who always greeted you and left you speechless, blushing and possibly a little moist, for the ladies. Please keep in mind at all times, this was developed by one man. Just one. There are games developed by entire teams of people that don’t look this good.
Here’s how I would describe the rest of this game: Think Devil May Cry meets Marvel Vs Capcom meets Castlevania meets Alice in Wonderland. With an RPG system. Now you’ve got a better idea of what Dust is all about.
What’s great about the combat and other mechanics in the game is that they lean towards the easy-to-learn difficult-to-master mentality of games such as Kirby’s Epic Yarn or more notably Bayonetta and Lollipop Chainsaw, where you could blitz through the game without much trouble but if you really want to look good and ‘do it right’ then you need to work at it.
Dodrill himself had the following to say: “It was also important for me to create a game with options to allow players of any skill to have fun. I love hard games, but as a parent I sometimes want to take it easy, and it’s a thrill to see my children have fun with my game. Of course, anyone who wants a real challenge will also be pleased.”
The main character in the game takes on the look of something decidedly lupine-meets-furry, with a chirpy fairy companion thrown in for effect as well as — wait for it — a talking sword. Yes, a talking sword. Your sword talks to you. This plus a few awesome cameos from characters we’ve seen in other game makes for a unique and hopefully unforgettable experience.
Hey guys! Remember that time when I talked about that talking sword in Dust: The Elysian Tail? That was a great time.
There will be button-mashing to be sure, but don’t let that get you down. Work at combos and you will be rewarded, and be sure to explore all the multiple paths to maximise your experience per location, and you’ve got a great indie action RPG brawler that will keep you going for a while.
Plus you get those pretty visuals to stare at while you aerially juggle enemies before charging up a special attack that fills the screen while erupting in devastation like a BioWare fanboy who just heard Dragon Age 3 will be getting a trailer soon.
Seriously, how are you still reading this? Go get Dust: An Elysian Tail. Or wait for our review on the game, soon. Either way, remember who you told you about it before it was a thing.