From Dust to Dust: An Elysian Tale Review
Dust: An Elysian Tale tells a story of peace through war. You play as Dust, a man who wakes up with no memory but quickly realizes that there is more to that story. He is awakened by a quirky flying cat named Fidget. She is a protector of the sword that you will be using on your adventure. This sword is not ordinary one, and it acts a guide that speaks to you when you need it. Ahrah, your sword, will help reveal things from your past and give you a cause worth fighting for. This is the start of a grand adventure of finding out about your past and helping to form the future of this world.
Dust is a very unique title, and the thing that anyone notices first is the art direction. The entire game is beautifully hand-drawn, from the world to the characters. You can tell a lot of work went into the art of this game, and it shows as it’s very well done. From the other characters you encounter to the many enemies you battle as they are all unique and full of life. This may be the defining characteristic of this game. Speaking to other characters became more engaging as it brought them up close and fully animated. This game is like playing a well done anime.
The gameplay isn’t a completely unique experience, as it takes a lot of it’s cues from other games. The combat is a hack and slash style with some simple combos thrown in for some variety. While this is fun when you first start playing, it kind of ends up to the point where you end up button mashing and paying less attention to the combat in general. The other part is the platforming, and how it uses the formula found in other side-scrolling games like Metroid and Castlevania. You are encouraged to explore and replay areas for treasures chests, keys, and Xbox Live Arcade friends (i.e. Meat Boy). There are some areas that you can’t get to in your first time making your way through an area, but you can get these treasures after you gain a certain ability by going through the story. This gave the game a lot of replayability and definitely added to the length of the game. I’m definitely obsessed with collecting everything while playing games like this, but when I got towards the end I was kind of done with the collecting as I wanted to see how the story played out.
I wasn’t immediately grabbed in by the story as there wasn’t much of it at the beginning. The story does pick up when you start to talk to more people and gain a perspective from other characters. Once you get a taste for some of these pieces as they fall together it compels you to keep going forward as the next piece of the puzzle revealed to you. By the end, I was totally engaged, and wanted to see how the story played out. I really enjoyed where the game went with it’s story and it went from being my least favorite part of the game to my most.
One of my favorite parts of the game quickly became the voice acting, as I thought it was pretty well done. I wasn’t expecting to get into the story as much as I did, but the voice acting pulls you in and makes you feel like your actions in the story are leading to something bigger. Otherwise, the sound is pretty much average fantasy fare. The soundtrack for this game is pretty much what you would expect out something like this. It’s not bad music, but it’s also not very memorable.
Overall, Dust was a game I enjoyed a lot. It took me about 20 hours to play through with collecting nearly everything that I could. If you like the, dare I say it, Metroidvania style game I would definitely recommend it. I would also recommend this game to anyone who likes a good story and artwork as I enjoyed those parts more than I did the combat and overall gameplay. For those who want a challenge, put the game on a difficulty other than Normal as it becomes very easy as you get higher up in level. For $15 though, it’s well worth helping to support a new developer who had an excellent first outing.