Of May, this game is the first out of two free video games for Xbox Live Gold members via Games With Gold . After the 16th, another game will be available with this program, so get it while you can and give it a chance. I say to do so because it is refreshingly good. This game has been on the Xbox Live Arcade since August 28, 2012 and I have seen the its name in forum conversations sometimes, but I always moved on to something else. Now that I have played it, I will remember it. My first playthrough is currently ongoing in chapter one. My thoughts on it so far are 1) it is a mildly complex game, 2) the dialogue is interesting, and 3) the gameplay is like Castlevania: Symphony of the Night mixed with Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic which is a definite plus.
In any game, a story is one of the most influential parts of my evaluation of whether or not I enjoy it. For example, Batman Arkham City would have felt less immersive and probably would have received lower scores had it not featured such a good story. Likewise, Dust: An Elysian Tail has a story good enough to keep me interested in the next major event or simple conversation. I do not feel like I am a part of a mass audience who was marketed to in order to buy this game. Let me explain. Sometimes when I am learning about certain stories, I am given the impression that they are meant to be known by a select group that I happen to be a part of. From a business perspective, that is probably wrong considering that every storymaker probably would like as many people to play their game, read their book, or watch their film as possible. This game seems that way even still. That said, the story is growing in complexity as I progress through the main quest and side missions.
Within the details of the dialogue is the story and the voice acting for it is not bad. Every line is available to read and a character speaks each word. I think I was not expecting that because of the apparent overall simplicity of this game. Most of the indie games I have played with this presented level of simplicity are lacking in speech. Next, as a character, Dust is someone I would like to know more about. It is apparent that he makes a decision to say and do good deeds or bad ones; Player choice to continue the game after certain points tests my morality in a harmless manner, but they are tests all the same of a personal nature. I also like that he is in search of his identity and wears a gloomy outfit, but his attitude contrasts that along with the coloring (The latter of which I will get to later). Other characters in the world of Elysium are similarly charismatic. If you have already played this game, take from that what you will. Things started simple, but began to increase in complexity after a certain few points. Also worth mentioning are the many moments in which characters break the fourth wall. They are not awkward, but they do feel forced like this could have been a short story or a game and the latter was chosen. I am not saying that is what occurred, but I do slightly get that impression. Other times, they are comical.
Since the start of the Dust, the majority of gameplay has consisted of combat with the talking Blade of Ahrah and companion, Fidget. Being a side-scroller with stat-based combat, I am reminded of Castlevania: SotC. It is not nearly as complex since Dust has that one sword and side kick, Fidget, for high potential and low variety combos, yet the premise of that sword kind of makes battles cool. A small moveset limits me to a few combos and it has been really easy to get high-counting combos with Fidget's magic combined with Dust Storm. In addition, the aerial variant makes leveling up easy. Actually, anything from the aforementioned combat to completing quests and even making simple conversation with non-playable characters gives experience points. How meaningful the side quests are reminds me of KotoR in spirit, though absolutely not in setting which is fine. Exploration is obvious and almost guided with a basic map at the top-right part of the screen. Crafting items and mercantilism throughout the game are nice aspects of role-playing games which I am glad are in it. As a result of the overall light challenge Dust gives me as a player combined with the story slowly growing in complexity, I find it charming.
Besides those parts of Dust, the art is good and certainly worth talking about. It is supposed to have been all hand-painted which gives it a distinct look set apart from other games and especially side-scrollers I have played. Each area is vibrantly colorful and has obviously been made with care. Secondly, the Eastern and Western appearances of characters outfits and buildings contrast well. Also, without spoiling anything, from what I have seen thus far, that seems to have a point. Next, Dust's torn hat cloth and covered face is not a gloomy sight because the light shade of blue that most of his outfit is an uplifting color. Anthropomorphic beings which I would describe as human-like rabbits living in a societies are almost too cute, but the story keeps things mature. This game has already surprised me in many ways because I was considering not even downloading it based on the Xbox Live Arcade cover image, but now that I have, I intend to learn everything there is to know about Dust and Elysium.
What are your thoughts on this game?