Although the demo for this game has been less than well received by many people, it hooked me immediately. I didn’t even finish it before backing out and happily giving up 1200 MS points.
The opening scene gives very little away, other than to inform you that your character has no idea who he is. You are to be accompanied on your journey to find out by a talking sword and a flying squirrel. From the off, the voice acting is tremendous and sits very well alongside the beautifully hand drawn imagery. This game is much
more than just aesthetics though and you are soon embroiled in the game and exploring the land that will be taking up around 15-20 hours of your time.
Essentially you are playing a 2D platformer but it soon becomes clear that Dust is much deeper than that. Jumping gaps and balancing on ledges is of course the core of the game but a myriad of creatures will get in your way. These are dealt with using a simple but very effective combat system. X and Y buttons providing a “light” or “heavy” attack with the occasional tap on B to employ your new pet squirrel…sorry, her name is Fidget and she’s a Nimbat. From my point of view, this is great and compliments my inadequacies as a gamer by allowing me to “button mash” my way through. Anyone who is a master at beat-em-up games should be able to link in some fairly elaborate combos.
As the story unfolds, the game does too. Early on, you will see inaccessible areas on the rudimentary map, or a ledge that is just out of reach. It is only later that you will unlock the necessary skills to make that jump or climb that wall. This encourages you to return to all areas of this gorgeous looking world to find hidden treasure and to complete the various little side quests which you will pick up. Incidentally, you don’t get a choice to accept or decline any quest. Once you have spoken to the instigator, you are bound to take on the challenge.
You will also begin to enter areas that are much more errrmm…platformery! I don’t want to give too much away but this game has much more to offer than just gorgeous graphics and hacky slashy fighting. Its roots are firmly planted in the traditions of the genre and it just grows and grows as you progress and really only fully blooms in the final stages.
If that’s not enough to keep you occupied, you can seek out the various “challenge” areas which are not connected to the story in any way. They are small sections which you pass through as quickly as possible breaking a series of lamps and fighting a few beasties along the way. At the finish line you are given your score and a leaderboard to compare your performance with others on your friends list.
As I mentioned at the beginning, the demo for this was widely disliked, I’m still unsure as to why but after a little cajoling from me, others have bought this and loved it too. Not surprising really, once you are into this, you are carried along through a great story which is acted out brilliantly in a stunningly beautiful environment. If you have the slightest little bit of affection for platform games, you’ll want to give this one a big kiss when you complete it.