If Dust: An Elysian Tail, a side-scrolling, fantasy, beat-em-up, looks familiar, that’s probably because you’ve seen it cropping up at events like PAX East 2012 for the past few years. It’s hardly surprising that the game has been around for so long, given that it is, astoundingly, being made by a single dude, Dead Dodrill. Of all the games at PAX East, Dust is easily the most visually arresting I’ve seen yet, thanks to the incredible hand-drawn animations of the characters and environments.
The fluidity of the characters works wonderfully with the fighting game-esque combat system. With a few button combos, you can string together insane combos on multiple enemies at one time, flinging them into the air, driving them to the ground with your sword while your little fairy friend litters the screen with deadly balls of energy, creating a glorious display of chaos and beauty. It’s quite a satisfying and even more impressive sight to behold.
As you fight your way through ghoulish demons and gnarly flying beasts, you collect items and goods to improve your skills, and there’s also a solid leveling up system that lets you tweak things like health, attack strength, and magic. I didn’t get to see too much of either of these during my brief hands-on time, but it looks like the game will have a healthy RPG-ish side that will add depth to the already incredibly enjoyable action-centric gameplay.
Enemy types come in all shapes and sizes. At one point, I faced off against a towering rock foe who was invulnerable unless you parried his attack and stunned him, leaving him open to a full on frontal assault. He fell pretty easily, which I’m guessing was done to make the game more convention floor friendly. Even so, it was nice to see a more sizable opponent on display.
Dodrill says Dust will be finished this year, but there is still no official word on when it will eventually land on Xbox Live Arcade, which is a shame. Still, keep it on your radars. You’re going to want to continue to keep an eye on this one.