Developed by:Humble Hearts Published by:Microsoft Studios Genre(s):
  • Action RPG
  • Platform:
  • Microsoft
  • PC
  • Sony
  • Cost:$14.99 ESRB Rating:EVERYONE 10+ Players:1 Release date:August 15, 2012 Reviewed on:XBox 360

    Dust: An Elysian Tail

    The Summer of Arcade titles are always a welcome treat for Xbox 360 owners. Over the years, SOA has given us great games like Castle Crashers, ‘Splosion Man, and Bastion. This year is no different; again gamers welcomed awesome Xbox Live Arcade titles. One title, Dust: An Elysian Tale stands out as being one of the most visually stunning Arcade titles to be released this year!

    Dust is an action-based RPG that follows the story of a mysterious warrior, Dust, that suffers from amnesia. After finding an ancient sword and a talkative flying friend, he embarks on a lengthy journey to right the wrongs of the world (and gain his memories in the process). This journey includes battling monsters, a corrupt general, and evil spirits. If any of these things sound familiar, it’s because they’re are tried and true staples of most RPGs. While the story isn’t the most original within its genre, it’s interesting enough to push players forward.

    Moving away from the story, Dust features some pretty fun gameplay mechanics in the vain of Castlevania. The multi-tiered areas are ripe for some intense exploration. Some places require a new skill or ability in order to be searched thoroughly, resulting in optional backtracking. For instance, unlocking a double jump or climbing ability will allow the main character to reach platforms that were previously inaccessible. To help with this is a mini-map at the top right corner of the screen. Without saying “hey, look here for a secret”, it outlines areas that haven’t been visited within a given location. Backtracking usually rewards players with more money, items, and other secrets without being overly tedious.

    While exploration is fun, the game’s combat mechanics were the driving force behind my overall enjoyment. Popping multiple enemies into the air, jumping up to meet them with an air combo, then finishing them off  with  a grab and a ground slam is what I’d call a good time. The easy to use controls and fluid animation made Dust feel more like a fighting game at times. Layered on top of the combat was an interesting bonus experience mechanic that is tied into your combos. Being an RPG, you’re able to level up once enough experience is gained. This can be earned by just attacking monsters out in the world. Just like any game with a combo meter, each time you hit an enemy in quick succession you earn hits on a counter. What’s interesting is that, ending a fight with a long combo (or a high number of hits) will grant you a bonus on top of the normal XP you’d get just for fighting.

    Waiting too long to gain additional hits will cause your combo to end early. What’s worse is that if you get hit by an enemy, you’ll lose your entire combo and won’t get any of the bonus XP. This can makes enemy encounters even more exciting; stylishly racking up a ridiculously large number of hits while avoiding enemy attacks is quite fun. Of course, leveling up sooner then later is always a plus. Each time you level up, the game will allow you to place a gem (a stat point) into a category that strengthens Dust. Depending on where the gem is placed Dust can end up with more health, stronger attacks, etc.

    Even though majority of the game is a blast, there are some troubled areas to note. For instance, take the crafting system. Enemies will drop items (wood, iron, etc.) that, when used with collected blueprints, can create equipment to strengthen Dust. The crafting itself is implemented well enough; once you have everything you needed, it was easy to make stuff. My problem had to do with the fact that I never knew what enemy to hunt down to get the ingredients I needed. A NPC might say, “the only way to get BLANK is to fight BLANKS”. Even though the input is helpful, it can still be tricky to find out what creature should be farmed due to the fact that the game doesn’t tell you who or what you are attacking. There aren’t any names that appear onscreen, meaning I’d have to learn what item would randomly drop from each creature via trial and error. It’s safe to say, I didn’t craft much.

    Another thing that was a minor frustration was the wall barriers that constantly pop up. Each place has multiple areas to explore. Once you move past a certain point (reach the end of the area), you’ll move on to the next area or subsection of the map. Sometimes the game will put up a wall that halts your progression until all of the nearby enemies are killed. At first this wasn’t an issue; I almost expected this when I came across a new place for the first time. It got a little frustrating when trying to backtrack to an area for further exploration though. The enemies respawn each time to you walk back into their area, so the wall can come up multiple times while looking for secrets. Again, it was never a huge problem since the combat was fun. That said, I was deterred from taking lengthy trips back to certain places because of all the enemies I’d be forced to face.

    Visually, Dust is quite awesome; the hand painted backgrounds and character models looked amazing. It was obvious that a lot of time was spent on the way Dust looks. The same can be said about the sound department; the voice work was well done for an XBLA title. Throw in the fact that majority of the game was developed by one person and any nitpicking gets thrown out the window.

    All and all Dust: An Elysian Tail would be a great addition to anyone’s collection. The combative gameplay is simple yet fun, it features a lengthy story, and there are plenty of reasons to explore the environments. There are a few areas that could use some improvement, but they shouldn’t deter you from playing. Graphically, this game looks great and the voice overs were nicely done. As it stands, Dust ends this year’s Summer of Arcade on a high note!



    Fun action/RPG with a decent story.



    The hand painted awesome that shows up on your TV is worth the price of admission!



    The voice work and musical score was better than average.

    What's New:


    Most of what we have here has been done numerous times before. There is enough to keep it feeling fresh though.

    Replay Value:


    The game is really fun to play and there are plenty of secrets to find (including a cool one involving a rose...hint, hint)!

    Final Score:


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