The summer is wrapping up, and that means that the XBOX Live Summer of Arcade has come to a close. Dust: An Elysian Tail released last week to finish out the summer, and it brings some glory back to the Summer of Arcade.
I am a huge fan of Shadow Complex. For a downloadable title, it had an extreme amount of polish and was extremely fun to play. For me, that was the glory year for Summer of Arcade. The years that followed saw releases of games like Limbo and Bastion, both which were good in their own right but neither really lived up to Shadow Complex.
In 2012, it seemed it may be another semi-disappointing year for Summer of Arcade. A HD remake of Tony Hawk, a Kinect game called Wreckateer, a side-scroller that mixed elements of Limbo and Shadow Complex called Deadlight, the multi-player shooter Hybrid, and the cartoony Dust: An Elysian Tail. Initially, it seemed that Deadlight would be the awesome downloadable game of the summer. With gorgeous graphics set in a zombie-riffic world, and a harkening back to Shadow Complex it seemed that maybe we might have another super-polished experience. However, in the end the controls were clunky and not always all that responsive, leading to several chomp fests for the zombie horde (called “Shadows” in the game).
Dust: An Elysian Tail, though cartoony, is also a gorgeous game. It is also a bit more fun, as well. Arguably, it approaches the polish seen in Shadow Complex, though the art style is completely different. Dust is a different animal, though. It is a cross between an RPG and a traditional side-scrolling beat-em-up platformer.
Having not even come close to completing the game, I just started it today, I can’t speak about the game as a whole. However, I have to say that it will be a game that I look forward to playing for some time. Even if the story isn’t all that engrossing as of yet, the combat and combo system is so tight and fun that seeing the colorful monsters fly across the screen hasn’t gotten old, yet. The leveling system helps with the sense of character progression, as well.
The art style is like Don Bluth meets Anime. Characters have those tell-tale huge eyes, but the colors invoke movies such as An American Tale. Its bright and its animal centric. It is a family friendly game (rated E), and lately it has been hard to find a good game that is not rated Mature.
Dust: An Elysian Tail looks to offer an experience that SoA has been lacking for several years. A full review to come later.