A Tail of Metroidvania
2D games have seen a resurgence lately, especially in the downloadable market. These games are technically a bit less demanding than their 3D cousins, but they tend to make up for that with style. Dust An Elysian Tail is one of the many 2D games released in recent years that trades more on style than substance, but it makes a fair go of things by incorporating some fun play mechanics and a bit of classic Metroidvania style.
If you take out Dust’s gorgeous animations and background, you’re left with a very competent throwback to the days of the SNES. Like Castlevania and Metroid before it, this is a game that’s as much about gaining new abilities and unlocking new routes as it is about story or combat. Dust might trap these systems behind a somewhat deeper story and some furry animal characters, but it’s got the same kind of heart that you’d expect from these older games.
A Pretty, Pretty Animal
If you’re going to talk about Dust, significant praise has to be given to its art design. This is a fantastically beautiful game, especially for the product of a single designer. It features backgrounds that wouldn’t be out of place in an AAA game as well as the kind of main character design that will allow you to forgive the fact that you’re playing an anthropomorphic animal. As the game progresses, you’ll see quite a few things that make the download worth it on its own.
Unfortunately, the beauty of Dust doesn’t really extend below the surface. This is a pretty game, but it’s one that doesn’t have great combat. While that would’ve been forgivable a generation or two ago, modern games have shown that they can look and play great. Look at recent titles like Ori and the Blind Forest – it’s not just a game that looks pretty, but it’s one that is legitimately fun to play. That’s not necessarily always true for Dust: An Elysian Tale.
Unfortunately, the game really hits a low point when it has to deal with the boss fights. The boss fights of the game are long, boring, and ultimately forgettable. Anyone of those three could be forgiven, but lumping all of those negative qualities together will make some players want to put down their controllers. While the designs of the bosses are beautiful and cute, they’re not worth seeing if you aren’t having fun.