Developer: Humble Hearts
Publisher: Humble Hearts
Review Platform: Nintendo Switch
Release Date: Sept. 10, 2018
Also available: Xbox LIVE Arcade, PS4, Steam, App Store (w/ 1GB RAM)
Dust: An Elysian Tail is a 2D action adventure RPG. Independently developed by Dean Dodrill. Dust is a grand prize winner of Microsoft's 2009 Dream.Build.Play competition, a skill-based contest looking for the latest and greatest Universal Windows Platform (UWP) games from the indie developer community. I'm not surprised Dust won the grand prize because this game is BEAUTIFULLY made and its ADDICTIVE.
In the world of Falana you play as Dust, a warrior with amnesia. He encounters a talking sword, the mythical Blade of Ahrah, and its cute flying guardian Fidget. Together they search for Dust's memories, purpose in life, and along the way fight bad guys. At first the enemies are mindless monsters and then you encounter creatures with intelligence and heart. You learn your enemies' hearts were tainted from strong negative energy manifested through hardships caused by war. This war in particular stemmed from prejudice against the Moonblood race. General Gaius and his army cross the land determined to strike down any Moonblood or sympathiser leaving behind grief and ruin. Innocent people are affected by this prejudice, Dust and his friends are set to save/protect these people and stop General Gaius from ruining any more innocents' lives.
Dust - main character, warrior with amnesia
Fidget - Nimbat creature, guardian of the Blade of
Blade of Ahrah - a mysterious weapon bestowing its wielder destructive skills
Haley - a woman from a long line of blacksmiths who forges armor, pendants, rings, and augments from blueprints Dust gathers
General Gaius - main enemy, leader of an army ordered to eradicate the Moonblood race
In this 2D action adventure RPG your weapon is a sentient sword, the Blade of Ahrah, capable of turning its wielder into an unstoppable force of nature (literally force of nature with dust storms). You also receive assistance from Fidget with her projectile attacks, this comes in handy with Dust Storm (its my favorite combo).
There will be areas Dust won't be able to reach until he learns a skill. One of the first skills is SLIDE enabling him to slide through small tunnels leading him to an area you could see but couldn't reach yet. The next skill is CLIMB finally letting Dust climb up slimey vines to new areas, in addition it'll act as a short-cut to quite a number of places.
The gameplay is fun and simple, anyone can play. Move left & right, jump, and attack. The attacks are great for those that smash the attack button because the character's moves change within 4 successive attacks. Its refreshing from recent RPGs that have basic attacks/moves then intricate special attacks after gaining enough skill points. I don't have to wait for skill points to accumulate to activate that one-special-kill-move.
Y Normal Attack - Melee attack. Make successive attacks with Y and X (note: must start with Y)
X Dust Storm - Create a wind storm lifting enemies and objects. Consumes energy therefore there is a time limit before taking damage
A Throw Projectile - Fidget's magic attack. Consumes a little bit of energy. Using Dust Storm after this attack creates a fiery storm allowing you to seriously damage a far range of enemies on the platform.
ZR/ZL Evade Right/Left
Hold Y Parry
The graphics are perfect for someone like myself who loves to watch anime or cartoons like My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic and such. The colors are vibrant, distinct; lining is clear with a mix of friendly roundness and intense sharpness. The creator is in the works of making an Elysian series and I'm stoked hoping it'll be on Netflix and binge watch. Dust literally reminds me of my childhood cartoons, I'm associating the giddy feeling I had when I was able to play the Lion King or Aladdin on the SNES.
During the game-play I appreciate the animated graphic effects in combat: lightning, dust storms, fire explosions. There's shadows and textures giving the illusion its 3D in this 2D action adventure RPG. One of my favorite combat scenes is when I successfully parry because as soon as I make contact there is a rippling sound and in slow motion the enemy is pushed back while pulsing as if we're seeing the stun effect in action throughout the enemies body.
Sound track is AMAZING to the point I can listen to it in leisure. From beginning to end the sound track helps carry the story of the game. The Land of Remembrance is like a new born fawn waking up and taking its first steps, the more steps it takes the stronger it gets, and then the fawn learns to run and jump and fight monsters and MORE. The following song is Abadis Forest where the player learns combat and fights a hoard of enemies. There's a scene with rain and lightning matching to the feel of the music giving the sense of urgency to get through this forest ASAP then suddenly the music quiets down like its telling you "to calm down, there's hope, you can do it, don't give up" and then the volume and tempo raises with gusto. Cirromon Caverns is the background music for the scene underground, there's a distinct drum sound like its representing the solid potential-bone-crushing rocks in the caverns: rock walls, boulders, rock monsters, etc.
Music by HyperDuck Soundworks and Funky Rustic
Voice actors REALLY brought characters to life. Fidget can be sassy and a scaredy-cat all in one scene. Dust is at first a confused young man then throughout the game his personality develops and in every other cut scene we see Dust's endearing swagger as he teases Fidget. Humor between Dust and Fidget progresses, you think they’re funny and the next cut scene they’re FUNNIER. I had to screen shot some of Fidget’s dialogue, they were hilarious. Thanks to the voice actors’ abilities us players know the different sides of these 2D characters.
Voice Direction & Casting by Toon Platoon