New Game Review

Review – Dust: An Elysian Tail (Switch)

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Furry

There are some games you end up missing out when they first come out, only for you to play them years later and question yourself on how you were able to miss them at launch. That’s the case with Dust: An Elysian Tail. Originally released for the Xbox 360 in 2012, I had never even heard of it prior to its re-release on the Nintendo Switch, even though literally everybody else from WTMG’s staff was praising it as some sort of cult classic. Yep, they’re right. I have no idea why I missed Dust six years ago, but I’m glad I’m finally playing it on a portable device as this is an absolute must-have for Switch owners.

dust1
I used to fear these giants in the beginning of the game. Now I laugh at how weak they are.

Dust: An Elysian Tail is a mix between an action RPG and a metroidvania. You collect new abilities and keys in order to get past obstacles, but there’s also a big emphasis on leveling up, upgrading your stats, equipping items, critical hits, and so on.

Right from the get-go, what impressed me the most in this game was how great it looked. It feels like I’m playing a cartoon and a very well-animated cartoon at that. The characters were well-designed, the hand-drawn environments looked stupendous, the lighting and particle effects looked pretty good onscreen (even if they would occasional cause some framerate dips), and the animations were fantastic. There is a big Asian influence in this game, be it in the environments such as the many temples found everywhere, the fact that most healing items are based off Korean food, and the overall character designs (kimonos, conical hats, etc). This is a gorgeous game, without a doubt.

dust4
Fidget is now one of my favorite videogame sidekicks ever created.

Dust might be a great looking game, but looks alone aren’t the only reason this is a must-have for your Switch. It plays as good as it looks. The controls are simple and responsive, but the combat mechanics are what make Dust a joy to play. It’s a simple, borderline hack and slash combat system with an emphasis on combos and mixing melee attacks with projectiles. You have a normal attack, a sword spinning technique, a parry mechanic, as well as the ability to dodge roll. Your companion Fidget can provide assistance by throwing some initially weak magical projectiles, but if you combine them with your sword spinning, you can create huge bursts of energy that can easily crank your combo meter up to 500. With the exception of some really annoying platforming sections in later stages, Dust‘s gameplay is great overall.

dust3
Not only are the boss battles incredibly fun, but they also know how to hit you right in the feels.

Fidget is one of the best aspects about Dust: An Elysian Tail and it’s not just because she’s really helpful in combat. She’s also really sympathetic, not to mention adorable. Her voice acting, as well as pretty much everyone else’s in this game, is fantastic. It’s not often that you see indie games like this one with such amazing voice performances. Your main character, Dust, is an amnesiac warrior with a heart of gold and that can be see in his actor’s deliveries. The only character whose voice performance wasn’t as good as the rest was the talking sword you carry around throughout the entire game, not because it was downright bad, but because the actor was forced to deliver a somewhat deadpan and emotionless performance to coincide with the sword’s “rational” manners.

The game’s plot is pretty good as well. I don’t want to spoil anything, as the fact I knew absolutely nothing about Dust‘s plot made me enjoy every single plot twist even more. This is a game that knows how to make you smile when it needs to, as well as make you feel absolutely miserable with some really sad twists you will never see coming. Thanks to an assortment of likable characters, witty writing, clever twists, and fantastic voice acting, Dust‘s story is one you’ll quickly dive into and get invested in.

dust5
I can’t express how satisfying it is to blast a ton of enemies at once with this thunderbolt attack.

Dust: An Elysian Tail is a fantastic 2D game and a mandatory title for your Switch library. The story is great, the characters are memorable, the difficulty level is on point, the visuals are superb, the gameplay is solid and the voice acting is outstanding. The fact this has all been done by one single developer makes me respect this game even more. Dust is without a doubt, a fantastic passion project. How the heck did I miss this one back in 2012??

 

Graphics: 9.5

Fantastic visuals. It feels like you’re playing a cartoon. It is superbly animated and it features vibrant colors and lighting effects.

Gameplay: 9.0

With the exception of a few annoying platforming sections, the gameplay is great. It features responsive controls and an excellent combat system.

Sound: 9.0

While the soundtrack is very good in its own right, the voice acting is what steals the show. It’s absolutely fantastic.

Fun Factor: 9.0

Dust features metroidvania and action RPG elements, a great combat system and a fantastic story. It’s an excellent little game, even if some later platforming sections are a tad annoying, as previously mentioned.

Final Verdict: 9.0

Dust: An Elysian Tail is available now on PS4, Xbox 360, PC, Nintendo Switch.

A copy of Dust: An Elysian Tail was provided by the publisher.

Advertisements

About Leo Faria

Founder and mastermind behind Way Too Many Games, hailing from the southern swag that is São Paulo, a Sega widower who considers the Dreamcast to be the greatest console ever released, the greatest Guitar Hero and Tetris player you’ll ever meet. My favorite games include Perfect Dark, Banjo-Tooie, the Guitar Hero series, Bioshock Infinite and Star Wars Rogue Squadron II. I also own an Ouya. Never turned it on.

%d bloggers like this: