Dust: An Elysian Tail Reviews

  • Committed320Committed320208,855
    23 Aug 2012
    49 2 6
    So, at first, I wasn't overly impressed with this game. Sure, it was clearly an achievement since it was developed almost entirely by one man. Sure, it was fun to play. But, I mean, I've played this type of game countless times over the years. "ARISE AND SAVE THE WORLD, PROTAGONIST". Yawn. Right?

    No. Incorrect.

    Dust takes cues from countless other games that have come before, and presents them in a way that feels fresh, engrosses you, and just provides you with sheer enjoyment that is honestly kind of rare these days.

    Ok. Review time.

    Graphics

    Beautiful. I know, kind of a cop-out thing to say. But really, they just are. The locations, although familiar to metroidvania games (and really action games in general) are all lovingly crafted and extremely pleasing to the eye. The characters are expressive, and the excellent animation lends life to even the most minor NPCs. The enemies are varied, and again, even the most trivial is memorable and instantly recognizable.

    The exception here is in the cut-scenes. There are only a few, but the frame rates in them are jarringly bad. I almost wish they weren't included at all, as although they are fine story-wise, they look out of place where everything usually runs so smooth and looks so beautiful.

    Regardless, the graphics are impressive overall. In my opinion, this is one of the two main factors that set this game apart. What's the other, you ask? Well...

    Sound

    ...the voice acting. What a breath of fresh air. I mean, seriously. The voice acting in this game trumps that of some of the biggest, most expensive releases of the last few years. It's that good. When the flying cat sidekick first appeared, and spoke her first line, I groaned. This character cliché has been done and done and done to death. I was not looking forward to listening to it for the entire game. My mind was changed within minutes. A great example of something that been done many times before, but really given heart and perfected here. Every single character (pretty much) is voiced surprisingly well. And the dialogue is extremely well-written, which doesn't hurt.

    I should also mention the music. While it is overshadowed by the excellent voice work, the music is also very good. It's thematic, appropriately dramatic when it needs to be, and just fits the mood of the game very well. It's not all memorable, but there is a theme or two that will stick with me.

    Story

    Well, here is where the game hits a few snags. I will not spoil anything, so feel free to read on if you haven't played the game.

    The story, while well written, is pretty generic. There are exceptions in the details, but for the most part you've heard it all before. The strength is in the telling, not the subject matter. The strong writing and performances lend weight to an otherwise tired tale of heroics and redemption. I found myself caring despite knowing from past experiences how it was all going to play out in the end. So, while it's nothing groundbreaking, it's good enough to keep you intrigued.

    Gameplay

    Here it is, the most important factor. Is it fun to play? The answer is yes, but it is a little hit-and-miss unfortunately.

    This is a metroidvania game through and through, with some light RPG elements. A simplified leveling system, a peripheral crafting system, and equipment which raise (or lower) your stats. This is all fine, and for the most part it all works, although I have a few complaints.

    Combat is fun, fluid, easy to pick up and play. However, it is very repetitive. You have a few different combos to pull off between your main weapon and the game's combat gimmick, the DUST STORM, but you'll find yourself doing either one of two things exclusively after a while. Spamming the X button, or spamming projectiles combined with the aerial DUST STORM. There's really no reason to mix things up, and little strategy involved. Also, although combat is satisfying despite the repetitive nature, the boss battles are lackluster. To say the least. Considering the build-up through story to some of these battles, you would expect at least a minor challenge. Not so. Once you learn to use the DUST STORM combined with projectiles, every fight becomes trivial. It's not the end of the world, but it does make these moments much less memorable and rewarding.

    If you haven't gathered yet, the game is also extremely easy on the NORMAL setting. I recommend playing on TOUGH or HARDCORE, which will also net you an extra achieve anyway, so you might as well.

    Achievements

    Hey, this is what we really care about here, yeah? It depends on what you're after. All achievements are easily obtainable in one playthrough (as long as you choose TOUGH or HARDCORE and don't change your difficulty mid-game), and really nothing is missable. The game overtly warns you when you reach the 'point of no return' so that you can go back and mop up anything you've missed before the final boss, which is a nice touch. None of the achievements are difficult to obtain if you exhaust all of your dialogue options and explore thoroughly. So, basically, if you're looking to boost your TA Score as you go, this game works nicely. TA Ratio is another story though, I doubt anything here will be very rare after another few weeks.

    Overall

    Loved it. I can't lie. Despite it's flaws, it's one of the better games I've purchased from XBLA, and worth every penny. I recommend it to anyone looking for good writing with dialogue that is genuinely amusing and realistic, solid gameplay and a great sense of completion as you discover all the hidden items. Also, the little homages to it's peers and predecessors is a great touch that lends an air of nostalgia for us gamers from the NES era. Try it out. If you're still reading you know you're going to anyway.
    4.0
  • 39 10 7
    (fancy reading this review with pretty screenshots? feel free to pop over to the original publishing found here... http://www.thumbactive.co.uk/reviews/dust-an-elysian-tail-re...)

    Ooh my my The Pendant of Beauty: +1 Regeneration, +60 Attack, +40 Defence and +8 Luck. Equipping this item became the final perk that solidified my verdict of Dust: An Elysian Tail. As little green 1s sprung out of thin air around my fluffy eared protagonist, I submitted to another daffy grin. Yet another pleasant surprise that made the dislike pile seem even further off in the untraceable distance. Yes. XBLA’s Summer of Arcade 2012 has wrapped up its celebrations with something rather terrific here…

    Soundtrack duties aside, all other content creation of Dust: AET has been handled by Humble Hearts. Or in other words, through the heartfelt graft by a one-man band that is Dean Dodrill. Winning Microsoft’s 2009 Dream.Build.Play Challenge Dean was given the resources he needed to expand from his artistic foundations. Ultimately, he could now build the kind of game he wanted to play: a side-scrolling action-RPG bound in an animal world of fantastical anthropomorphic charm.

    Thrust into the boots of bushytailed amnesiac Dust you’re awoken by The Blade of Ahrah an all-knowing talking sword. Then not long after joined by the comic relief guardian of Ahrah, Fidget the ‘Nimbat’ (a flying fox thingamajig). With that, your quest of discovery begins in control of this unlikely triad. So it isn’t the most original introduction, an awaking hero to-be who doesn’t know whom or what his purpose is. However, it was the interactions between these three leads that soon led me forget about this narrative mishap.

    Dust: An Elysian Tail is very much a game about the chemistry of its furry cast. Hopefully we can all agree here, as a player an element of bond and caring is integral to the overall role-playing experience. Dust, Fidget, Ahrah and the rest of the supporting role meet ups add to the game’s success. When each character does their skit whether it’s part of a side quest and or the main plot you’re gifted with aptly written, thoughtful, witty and vivacious voice acting. I really wasn’t expecting this much characterisation to feature from every bunny, bear and ‘Moonblood’ included!

    The ten hour plus narrative voyage ahead is enjoyable for sure, but it was when the experience poked fun at its gameyness I just couldn’t get enough of it. Amongst the verbal intervals and item management there are times where it breaks that video game fourth wall. For instance when Fidget sums up a demise of a less fortunate enemy with: “He really should have saved first!”, and when you find your inventory clogging up with ‘Mysterious Wall Chickens’ you realise you’re playing something that is very aware of its RPG heritage. Needless to say I lapped the lot of it up!

    The majority of your adventure adheres to the Metroidvania format. A 2D open world made up of themed locales that become more expansive and loot worthy gauged on your growing skill set. As well as the usual suspects of lite puzzle platforming action Dust’s combat capabilities rely on the company he keeps. Ahrah is a serrated chunk of destruction who is controlled through a combination of two buttons. Hacking, slashing and parrying aside the most notable attack and what I believe to be the trademark of the game is the ‘Dust Storm’. Holding down Y will result in Dust whisking up Ahrah into a furious helicopter slice (albeit limited mind you!). Combine this with good ol’ Fidget and her repertoire of elemental projectiles and you have a screen that becomes congested with admirable chaos. Imbedded amongst this chaos though is a very satisfying combo system. Constantly stringing together escalating attacks I found echoing similarities to the gratifying fix of sustaining a high-score multiplier. It’s all relative though as the longer the hit chain the bigger the XP reward. The combat crux is learning to avoid those two dreaded words… “Chain Broken!” In all, from the exploration to combat everything feels effortlessly top notch!

    There’s plenty of looting to be done with a blacksmith to craft the spoils with. Shady restocking tent shops, levelling up, skill gems to assign, left and right-handed rings to equip, you know all the RPG staples we’ve come to take for granted. It’s all there to be tinkered with in the inventory menu, and of course don’t fret, Dust also owns bottomless magical plunder pockets to cater for all of it. There’s a hearty dollop of side quests that tease and toy with classic mechanics and yet again are full of quite surprising depth. Basically, the content that can be found here puts a good few recently released retail games to shame!

    Dust: AET stylistically isn’t afraid of what it is, embracing its anime tone no holds barred. Mr. Dodrill has crafted a wonderful hand drawn world of intrigue and complexity complete with varying weather patterns. I was truly blown away by what one man could do when given the time and backing. When the animated action clicks into visual and audio overdrive, there’s just something so pleasing to the senses juggling foes that gush numeric stats and burst into a folly of currency and trinkets! The sound team have also done a wonderful job here with a classy orchestrated score, combo stabs, and as mentioned earlier noteworthy voice work.

    Apart from some of the underwhelming boss battles I thoroughly enjoyed everything about my first playthrough of Dust: An Elysian Tail. I know I’ve missed out on a fair amount of the side quests and have every intention of firing up a second outing. Okay, so bug-eyed anthropomorphic rabbits aren’t everyone’s scene. I can also see why that might end up being a hindrance towards many folks’ appreciation of Dust’s world. Animal anime has its niche I agree, but why should that hold back an excellent result from a dedicated auteur? What we have here is another downloadable title that’s a unity of surprises, an expectation trumper if you will. It’s robust, rewarding, entertaining, replayable and stylistically pleasing, well… everything a video game should be really.
  • FrustratedNerdFrustratedNerd279,135
    20 Aug 2012 21 Aug 2012
    24 1 5
    Our hero (Dust), begins his journey to discover his forgotten past right about the time we gain control. He's accompanied by a talking sword (Ahrah - the cool one) and a super powered Tails (She's actually an Elysian named Fidget) who will end up doing most of the work throughout the entire experience (even though she's only one button on your controller). The three characters together make one amazing fighter capable of thousand hit combos, and engulfing an entire screen of enemies in flames or lightning.

    Story (Spoiler Free): The overall story for An Elysian Tail is absolutely amazing but it does have alot of dull moments. One thing I didn't like was the sheer amount of dialog in the game. The way the characters take up the whole screen while talking was cool but after awhile it was easy to notice how inactive these scenes were. It wasn't until the very end of the game where the story begins to twist, and really peak your interest throwing actual cut scenes at you when it realize the whole game was missing them. The great thing about the amount of dialog was anytime it starts to drag (trust me, it does) you can press "start" and skip the whole conversation. I fought the urge, however.

    Graphics: Anyone who has seen a screen shot of this game knows the graphics are amazing. It's loaded with 3D characters in a 2D world, and it looks absolutely stunning. It wasn't until the very end with the cut scenes before I saw something and thought "that needs some fine tuning" but it went with the art scheme and was easily overlooked. Even while your focusing on stringing a huge combo together it's hard not to stop and appreciate the beauty that is Dust.

    Mechanics: This where the game really impressed me. When you're faced with jaw dropping graphics it's usually hiding something underneath the hood. Not this in case. Even while flying through the air, spamming the screen with Fidget's fire, and trying to maintain a high hit combo for the extra XP the game is smooth with no lag or rendering, no matter how many enemies are on the screen. Everything flows together so smoothly, the way it needs to be.

    Gameplay (Overall): I've read a lot of reviews comparing this game with Metroid saying "If Samus Had A Sword", but I strongly beg to differ. If I were to compare the overall experience to any game I've played it would be Castlevania: Symphony Of The Night. You're in a side scroller world, breaking walls, back tracking after upgrades are found to uncover the map, and you even have a familiar (Fidget). Throughout the entire game I kept thinking how much it was like SotN, especially while picking up "Mysterious Wall Chicken" (a edible health item) by the truckloads. You're equipment consists of two rings, armor, a pendant, and one other power-up slot. A little more generic then most games that allow equipment but with how often and supercharged the items you find are, you don't need anything else.

    Gameplay (Equipment / Crafting): One great thing about Dust is the ammount of merchants and the ability to craft items anywhere (once unlocked). You often find blueprints for top of the line items, and can easily craft it with the required items. You're even given the ability to sell materials to the traveling merchant once and he'll restock the item when he can. Often you'll see "shops restocked" waiting for a specific item to build what you have. The sad thing about this is it seems once the item has been crafted, it will be availible in the store right away making you wonder if you should have saved the items. The answer is no. Eventually you are given more then enough money, and it's always better to have the best gear you can.

    Gameplay (Difficulty - 109%): I played my game on Tough to start, which was actually easily then expected. Although, I did get ahead of myself and went to grind out a few extra levels early on (like I always do with the RPG aspect is there) which probably made it easier then it should have been. It seems the environment did more damage to my character then anything else. I found it quite annoying at some spots since the ice-cycles and spore drops seemed to have no pattern whatsoever, but there was only 2 short runs in the entire game like that, so it wasn't a huge problem. Besides the very end run of enemies, and a couple challenges the game is fairly easy to 100%. Bosses are especially easy once you realize a cheap food item restores Fidget's abilities fully (oops, tip). Given the amount of revival stones, and save points, this game can be very forgiving.

    Gameplay (Collectiables): Backtracking can be fun because of the "Baker's Dozen" cheeve, but I recommend waiting until the very end when they tell you that you have one last chance to go back (appreciate it!) since it isn't until this point when you have every ability needed. The road to 100% is fairly easy; but the main challenge of finding all 12 friends is fun yet tedious. There are limited keys throughout the world (and only 6 sold in shops), so if you've opened every chest you have seen then you're going to be backtracking levels to find keys (the enemies are the same difficulty as they were, so that's not the challenge). The keys count as treasure on the world map, so once it says 100%, you've found all there is to find in that area.

    All -in-all: Dust An Elysian Tail, is a fun little sidescroller that (to me) came out of the blue. I didn't think anything of this game until Summer Of Arcade was on the rise, and I instantly fell in love. Reminding me of my favorite game of all time (SotN), it's easy to see how any fan of the game could love this one. It's great to see this style of gameplay hasn't been forgotten and I'm personally glad it's coming back (hopefully). Besides the dull dialog scenes, and the environment hazards, I couldn't find one other complaint about this game.
    5.0
  • Crazy RumbleCrazy Rumble48,042
    28 Jan 2013
    16 1 1
    Falana: A once calm and peaceful place with many creatures inhabiting it. However, this no longer seems to be the case. With hostile creatures attack the villages of Falana, they are desperate for a hero to help them out, and that call may finally be answered.

    Gameplay
    The game begins with you waking up as an oddly dressed 15 year old boy that has suffered from amnesia from reasons that playing will reveal. The whole story is based on the suspense of the unknown, and as you go along and continue through the story, it’ll get better and better. The actual gameplay though can get pretty dull after some time, with it being a standard 2-D RPG and having a very limited combo list. Though there is a few moves you learn time to time, but nothing really too big or flashy. The controls are pretty basic, with the time between press for combos to work being pretty long compared to other games, so there's really no need to mash buttons when playing this game, which goes well with it being easy-going. However, it didn't have much on its gameplay that stood out at all, but it certainly was pretty well put together.
    Rating:7/10
    Pros:
    Decent move set/combos
    Easy pace
    Combos and moves are easy to do
    Cons:
    It gets old after some time


    Sound
    This is one of the places where the game really hits hard on, and not in a bad way! Not only does the music puts intensity and soothing where it belongs, as does the voice acting itself. The voices are very well acted for each character and the music matches very well with what area you are in, although you can even hear a small act up within the voice acting from time to time which really shouldn't bug too much. It does get a little loud suddenly when talking is involved, and it can look pretty awkward when the voices are showing strong emotions but the images showing aren't matching the reaction whatsoever. With just minor flaws, the sound was pretty well put compared to many other arcade titles.
    Rating:9/10
    Pros:
    Music is very good
    Voice acting is amazing
    Cons:
    Small breaks in voice acting
    Awkward poses during dialogue

    Plot
    The plot is something I personally haven't seen in many games recently. The main character gaining amnesia from reasons unknown and waking up in a forest which seems familiar. It continues as his memory returns slowly throughout the game itself while traveling with his magical sword and odd companion. However, there wasn't much that made it stand out on its plot either, except for the strong emotion behind it. All in all, pretty decent in its own way.
    Rating:6/10
    Pros:
    Strong emotion behind it
    Pretty stable plot
    Cons:
    Not much originality

    Graphics
    The graphics are another strong point about this game. The artwork during dialogues are very impressive, as well as during actual gameplay. However, the background scenery is what makes the graphics on this arcade title, being one of the best ones I’ve seen from any arcade title. The only issue within the graphics is that sometimes the characters and the enemies look a little grainy, but its graphic is simply amazing!
    Rating:10/10
    Pros:
    Background scenery is great
    Artwork is very nice and fitting
    Cons:
    Small grain texture issue

    Length/replay value
    This game isn't a very long one,even if you do every side quest, and the replay value is just not there. Once you beat the game, it kinda loses its spark behind it. Its just not there after everything. At least the story isn't butchered to about 2 hours long, right?
    Rating:3/10
    Pros:
    Story has somewhat length
    Cons:
    Replay value is little to none

    Achievements
    Now for the part some people were looking for, the achievements. The 30 achievements in Dust are really simple, and most are self explanatory, excluding the friends and the two secret ones about Gianni's laundry. For the challenges, its best not to stress it, as if you wait until you are right before the last mission, all of the challenges that have to do with killing are easy to do.
    Difficulty:4/10

    All in all, Dust: An Elysian Tail was a great game and even greater experience to have, so to all who read this, I personally recommend it!
    Overall score:7/10
    4.0
  • Katosepe321Katosepe32193,543
    27 Jan 2013
    13 1 0
    Dust: An Elysian Tail was released during the 2012 Summer of Arcade as the lone RPG of the bunch. In a summer filled with zombies, shooters and skating, Dust stood out as an artistic action RPG stylized with talking animals and anime drawings.

    You may be brought in to Dust: An Elysian Tail by the promise of a well-reviewed side-scrolling action RPG but you will most likely stay for the amazing artwork and music as well as the cute, if not predictable, storyline. Don't misread this, the gameplay is fun and hacking down endless monsters can spell a great time but the artistry is just wonderful and refuses to be ignored.

    From grassy plains to underground waterfalls to raging volcanoes, Dust will have you traveling to all sorts of locales and each is lovingly handcrafted with beautiful backdrops and interesting level design. Each locale is also filled to the brim with monsters of all kinds. While most function pretty much identical to the last, their appearances are varied drastically plus the lure of new item drops keeps things fresh and interesting.

    Each area also has it's own distinct music and while none has struck me as particularly catchy, the soft piano melodies set the atmosphere for the game perfectly. One aspect of the game that I didn't expect out of an Xbox Live Arcade title was that every line of dialogue is fully voiced. While the voice overs themselves can be hit and miss, they do each lend a greater sense of personality to each character that adds to the overall charm. Even your flying companion, Fidget, who has probably the most obnoxious voice over in all of video game history, gains some endearing charm thanks to the voice over. Most characters are well voiced, however, and Dust is done wonderfully.

    The storyline itself isn't enthralling in and of itself but it's not poorly done either. It's simply been done before. Amnesiac main character wakes up to find himself in the middle of a war-torn land where he must save the world and discover who he is in the process. There are some interesting twists and turns on this basic formula but it mostly stays in predictable territory. If you're looking for groundbreaking drama, you won't find it here but the characters are mostly charming, the dialogue is good bordering on passable, and the plot is still satisfying despite it's lack of innovation.

    The gameplay is where Dust falters a bit. Don't get me wrong, this is still a great action RPG and it managed to entertain me throughout my playthrough but some will get bored of the repetitive fighting. There are a few basic combos and special moves but most fights will consist of you mashing X to kill everything on the screen. Fortunately, fights are flashy and experience/items are relatively generous so you always feel like you're accomplishing something. Harder difficulties may force smarter play but on the normal difficulty, most battles were simple. Boss fights add a bit of variation but were quite easy on the normal difficulty. They may be more intense on the harder ones but other than the last boss fight, all others were finished in less than five minutes on the first try. They were entertaining and a welcome change of pace from regular monsters but don't be expecting Dark Souls out of these bosses.

    Game length was quite decent from a 100% completion play. It took me about 15 hours or so to complete everything that Dust had to offer on the normal difficulty. Achievements have a reasonably high ratio (currently 590 TA for 400 GS) but weren't very difficult to complete at all. Even the supposedly challenging task of gaining four stars on all challenge arenas wasn't all that difficult and I'm far from the best gamer out there. As far as the gameplay goes, while I was about ready to be done with Dust and move on by the end of my 15 hours, I never felt that it overstayed it's welcome, an impressive feat for a game that mostly involves mashing X.

    Dust won't be for everyone. Anyone not into anime stylings and storylines may want to look carefully at Dust before buying and the 1200 MSP can be a high price point for some. Still, if you're willing to drop the dough and can appreciate wonderful artwork, Dust will not leave you unsatisfied.

    NOTE: As of this review, player has achieved full completion in-game but is missing two achievements, both of which require a second playthrough. This note will be removed and review edited, if this changes and thoughts change over second playthrough. Note that all achievements can be obtained on a single playthrough if difficult setting is picked at start although a save file will need to be used at one decision point.
    4.0
  • togethawiistandtogethawiistand345,577
    29 Oct 2015 31 Oct 2015
    4 5 0
    What seemed at first like the cliché story of a guy who looses his memory and eventually recovers it only to find out he was a disgusting bad person, thankfully turned out to be more than just that.

    Dust is an interesting side-scrolling adventure with some RPG elements. Its dialogues have a nice sense of humor and will surely make most people laugh every here and there. The story also has an emotional appeal that makes it sad and cheerful at the same time. The graphics and the playability are those you can expect from a good arcade title.

    Achievement wise, Dust is a game with balanced achievements that don't require ridicule grinding such as reaching a specific high level or to collect all of certain items scattered in the world and that sort of crap. For instance, there's an easter egg achievement for finding and freeing characters from other notable arcade games, and you will find enough keys around to do that without having to find them all.

    Also, there are 3 mildly challenging achievements: The Stuff of Legends (to earn 4 stars on each of the six trial courses), That's More Like It (to reach a 1000 hit combo, which you MIGHT have to repeat later for a specific quest if you unlock it earlier in the story) and Above and Beyond the Call (to complete the game on tough difficulty). But honestly, all of them are very doable. The trials require a little getting used to as well as the 1000 hit combo, which you won't have to keep repeating in the game after you're done with that achievement. Playing on Tough difficulty seems a little too hard at the beginning, but if you are smart when spending your money and upgrading you'll have a powerful enough hero to pull it off.

    Overall, Dust is a good game which I personally would give 3.5 to 4 stars considering some of its elements that stand above the average good.

    I'm glad I've played it. It might be one of the last ones I complete on the 360.
    4.0