Released by independent designer, Dean Dodrill back in 2012 as part of Microsoft’s “Summer of Arcade” promotion, alongside Wreckateer, Deadlight, Hybrid and of course Tony Hawk Pro Skater HD, Dust: An Elysian Tail has set the bar for independent designers world wide.
Firstly, I’ve gotta say, I can only kick myself for not picking this game up sooner as since I started playing it only a week ago I can’t put it down!
Dust: An Elysian Tail, is a side-scrolling fantasy-adventure game where you take up the role of hero Dust, in his quest to remember his past. He is awoken from a slumber by a floating sword known as the Blade of Ahrah. Shortly after the sentient sword arrives, a “nimbat” a small flying squirrel-like character named Fidget arrives and announces herself as the sword’s guardian and claims that she cannot be separated from the sword until it is safely back where it belongs. However, the Blade of Ahrah has other plans and offers to aid Dust in retrieving his past and battling what will become his very complex future. With the three at your fingertips, you’re pulled into one of the greatest adventures in side-scrolling history…
Although a lot of the art work may make the game seem very light-hearted and cheesey, don’t be fooled as the storyline is extremely deep and the with everything swing of Dust’s blade, the plot gets thicker. The storyline features subjects of murder, genocide and sacrifice, making it an alluring and captivating plot, sucking you in for more and more. All be it entertaining, at times the dialogue between characters can be lengthy and can really pull you away from why you’re really here – to hack and slash some monsters. However, if you do love a good read or a heavy storyline then Dust may be a game for you to consider.
I’ve mentioned it once, but the artwork within this game is phenomenal! Alongside the beautiful music, these colourful and detailed vistas are the perfect setting for such an intriguing story and set the world up perfectly for Dust’s adventure.
The gameplay is fluid and the hack-and-slash motion works perfectly. To begin with, I felt over-powered and as though the game was throwing a considerably easy “challenge” at me. After a while, the difficulty spike started to show and eventually I felt as though I had accomplished something with every beaten enemy. Perks and upgrades can be purchased throughout the game and can offer a helping hand when times are becoming a bit tricky.
Overall, this is possibly one of my top 5 XBLA games of all time. Dust: An Elysian Tail is absolutely fantastic, and combined with the fact that it was almost entirely programmed, illustrated and designed by one man over three-and-a-half years makes it even more likeable!
I’ve gotta lift my hat to you, Dean Dodrill, you’ve made something amazing! Thank you.