Review: Dust: An Elysian Tail (XBLA)

Review: Dust: An Elysian Tail (XBLA)

Every year Microsoft runs the Dream Build Play contest, where game developers create or submit indie games they’ve been working on. What do they usually win? Money, and of course a contract to create an Xbox Live Arcade title. Maybe you remember a game called The Dishwasher: DeadSamurai, which was a previous winner of the contest. Many of the games that are listed within the indie section of Xbox Live would be great ideas for Arcade titles. Dust: An Elysian Tail, the fifth and final entry in this year’s Summer of Arcade promotion, is the games that won a deal in 2009’s Dream Build Play contest. Dean Dodrill has created a true gem.

Dust: An Elysian Tail is a great way to end this year’s Summer of Arcade. Who doesn’t want a clearly brilliant game as the final title? Dust: An Elysian Tail is going to take players on a wild ride in this 2D side-scrolling action-RPG. We start the game as Dust, who happens to be the main character of the game. What’s wrong with Dust? He’s lost his memory and doesn’t know why, where, or for what reason he’s in the area. You’ll also meet Fidget, who’s a talking cat that flies err… I mean a Nimbat. After meeting the two you’ll also meet the sword Fidget has been protecting. Yes, meet. It can talk and is part of the story as well. Shortly after the introductions, your adventure will start as you figure out the reason for your being in the area and what is going on. I’d love to go more into the story of  Dust: An Elysian Tail but if I do I’ll feel as if I’m spoiling what is going to be a grand adventure for you. Now let me get into the gameplay. As you first start the game the controls are very basic; A being jump, Y a special attack (later on), LB using your items, and as you progress you’ll learn others as well.

This game does seem a bit different from your average RPG. How? Well for starters when I think of an RPG I don’t think side scrolling…well, scratch that. I’d consider Castle Crashers a side scrolling RPG, as well… Anyways, it’s not every day you find a side scrolling/action/RPG, especially one this good. It’s very addicting, from the moment the game starts to get serious, whether it’s a boss battle, exploring lands, or simply enjoying how the story presents itself. Beating the game alone doesn’t mean you’ll have the full 400 gamerscrore, so that is one feature I did enjoy. A game that might require you to play on the easy, normal or hardest difficulty and to find hidden objectives. Who wouldn’t want a big reason to replay a game? I know I would. With any game there are flaws, and I’d say at most I wish levels were bigger, and some areas were filled with too many enemies as you explore.

When it comes to the story of the game the team did a very good job with hitting the mark to keep gamers such as myself glued to the TV for hours. With each area you visit you’ll learn more about the game, what is happening, and more about Dust. The graphics of the game are amazing from the moment you start. I couldn’t help but think to myself, HOLY CRAP! as I progressed through Dust: An Elysian Tail. Graphics don’t have to be run on the best engine known to man. To me when it comes to graphics it’s all about how you want the game to be presented. Dean has made sure to give his best effort when it came to building each area of the game. It could range from where you start the game, to the first city, or all the way to the end of the game. With each moment that passed I’ll admit I was blown away with the amount of effort that went into the game’s visuals.

Now it wouldn’t be a good game without something to listen to as well, right? The music throughout the game is very spot on. When a battle happens awesome music starts to play. When you explore other lands each area has its very own music as well. The scores alone for each area are very mellow and match the vibe of what might be happening on the screen. The voice acting, whether it’s the playable character or simply the NPC’s, shows a lot of effort, time, and love. There isn’t a moment you don’t sit back and think…damn the developer did a great job giving the right emotions, laughter, and enjoyment a game should provide.

Overall, the game is brilliant and very entertaining. Of course with any Arcade title games have flaws and I’d say this one hardly has any. At most I simply wish the areas to explore were bigger. Dust: An Elysian Tail provides beautiful drawn graphics, whether it’s the backgrounds, characters, or levels themselves. The story of the game is very detailed and leaves you wanting more or thinking after the game is beat. How about those graphics and audio? The graphics are well done and I hope to see work like that again from the team. Maybe in another game that branches off from this? As for the audio the soundtrack was spot on with the battles, or simply playing the game.

To me Dust: An Elysian Tail is going to be my top game of this year. Is the game worth the price of 1200msp/$15? HELL YES! If you’re looking for a game to play this is the one to purchase. If you’re looking forward to this game already you can buy it tomorrow via xbox.com or the Xbox Live Marketplace.

[learn_more caption=”Review Results”][one_half]Pros:

[custom_list type=”check”]

  • Graphics are beyond amazing, along with the musical score
  • Very lengthy
  • Detailed and entertaining story
  • Controls are fluid and responsive
  • Unique concept with great replay value[/custom_list][/one_half]

[one_half_last]Cons:

[custom_list type=”x”]

  • While long, I WANT MORE!
  • Would love a New Game+ mode
  • Levels could be bigger for more exploration

[/custom_list][/one_half_last]

Final Word:

FANTASTIC

To see where this review score falls in our scoring range, please read our review scale guidelines.[/learn_more]

Avid collector of Funko Pop! items, Pokemon and video games. You may have seen my past work at SFX-360/DigitalNoob. When I’m not collecting great things I’m writing news, previews, reviews and running giveaways.

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