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.