Oooo, Pretty – Dust: An Elysian Tale Now On Steam

By Nathan Grayson on May 27th, 2013 at 12:00 pm.

It's like they say: Fight fire with purple spaceships that have fire painted on them.

Dust is not often a pretty thing. It’s grimy and chunky and prone to congealing in hairy globules on only the shiniest, most typically attractive surfaces. Also, it’s been locked in an eternal war with lungs since the dawn of time, and I consider myself a close ally of all things breathing-related since they keep me alive. Dust: An Elysian Tale, however, is a different story. Its hand-painted 2D stylings are utterly gorgeous, glowing with color and dancing with life. I want to play it right nowwwwww- oh, I can. Dust has piled on top of Steam, which – in addition to sounding like a physical impossibility – is very good news.

Originally, the heavy hitting hack ‘n’ slasher first showed up on Xbox 360 last August. Now though, its all ours and Xbox can’t have it back. Here’s the basic premise, for those just joining us mid-post:

“As the mysterious warrior, Dust, your action-packed journey will take you from peaceful glades to snowy mountaintops and beyond. At your disposal is the mythical Blade of Ahrah, capable of turning its wielder into an unstoppable force of nature, and the blade’s diminutive guardian, Fidget. Take on a variety of quests from friendly villagers, discover ancient secrets and powerful upgrades hidden throughout the massive, open world, and uncover the story of an ancient civilization on the brink of extinction as you fight to uncover your own past.”

Fidget, I guess, is the talking anime cat thing. I don’t quite understand how it got a job guarding an almighty monster sword that’s at least twice its size, but OK.

Combat, meanwhile, is apparently a mix of combos and air juggles backed up by deft, compulsively paced character progression. Enemies teem like ants, and you squash them like giant ants who swing swords and shoot magic and aren’t really ants at all. The wildly chaotic-looking action unfolds across a series of interconnected, non-linear stages/eye candy mountains, so think Metroidvania and you’ll have the gist.

On top of all that, the PC version gets the benefit of new control schemes (though honestly, I imagine controller still bests them with ease) and “a wide range” of graphical options. Really though, so long as the much-loved core game made the transition fully intact, I think we’ll be OK. Has anyone had the chance to try it yet?

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72 Comments »

  1. TsunamiWombat says:

    Yes, I have tried it, and I can say from my experience with it for an hour or two that it’s not bad.

    It’s basically a side scrolling beat-em-up combined with metroidvania. It’s play is smooth, pretty, and so far fun. I don’t know yet if it stays that way (i’ve only reached the first village so basic combat hasn’t gotten boring yet).

    The biggest hurdle is the art style. It really helps if you think of it in terms of Disney anthropomorphism, a-la ‘Fieval Goes West’, and try to pretend furries do not exist and are not playing this game.

    PS: I am playing with a game-pad, but the controls themselves are simplistic enough I could see M+KB functioning adequatly. There’s really only a jump button, a dodge left button, a dodge right button, an attack button that doubles for parrys, a heavy attack button, and a ‘ranged attack’ button.

    • Lemming says:

      “Yes, I have tried it, and I can say from my experience with it for an hour or two that it’s not bad.”

      A box quote if ever there was one!

      Does this have the dreaded GFWL? As an Xbox exclusive, it would suggest so.

      • tyren says:

        Nope, no GWFL.

      • Wut The Melon says:

        No GfWL, no mouse smoothing/mouse lag, no unbindable controls, no low-res textures, no complete lack of graphical options… this is the worst console port ever! I mean, it’s impossible to tell it even was a console game originally! Seriously though, the amount of effort put into this port really shows and puts almost every other port to shame. Especially since it was done by one man…

        Really, I wish every video game company was obliged to hire at least one man like the developer of this game who would make sure they don’t fuck up everything on PC. Wishful thinking…

    • RedViv says:

      The biggest hurdle is the art style.
      I can only raise an eyebrow here, especially at the explanation that followed. Why should one be bothered in the enjoyment of something just because of its art style, if some other people use something similar for other purposes? Does the existence of hentai automatically make JRPGs hard to play? Really now. That’s a rather silly problem to have.

      • TsunamiWombat says:

        There are certain places on the internet you can go. Places where you can find things. Things that will make you question the existence of God – no, that will make you realize, a God does exist, but it is neither kind nor merciful, but an indifferent and alien intellect terrifying in it’s scope.. When you find them, you’ll know.

        And when you have looked into that abyss, when it has plucked – from your eyes – a small piece of your soul and swallowed it into the terrible blackness, you will understand.

        • Stijn says:

          I’ve seen those things.

          I’ve also played Jazz Jackrabbit and Sonic and watched Watership Down. Those had much more of an impact on me and, I think, on popular culture as a whole. I don’t get why people keep relating this game to furries while there’s such obvious other influences for the art style (I mean, Dust’s creator worked on Jazz Jackrabbit 2. Seems a much more likely relation to me than furry porn?)

          • dE says:

            Probably because of the supersized animal portraits in every dialog. It’s not an issue if the figures are small and you can barely see anything. But when they get blasted across half the screen, yeah uhm yeah. The portraits made me cringe a lot, in a way that the uncanny valley too makes me cringe. I don’t get what’s so hard or silly to understand about that.
            When gruffy mc spacemarines cracks a bullshit oneliner, people cringe. When boobzilla mc titflash bounces around, people cringe. When animals have clothes, cleavage and talk, people cringe. Some enjoy it, some will claim it’s natural and should be part of any game and others simply do not. Nothing silly about that.

          • Stijn says:

            Sure, if you dislike anthropomorphic art that’s as valid as any other aesthetic preference. Aways mentioning it in the same sentence as furries, on the other hand, is kind of ridiculous, the art style has a legacy that goes far beyond that.

          • LionsPhil says:

            The character Dean added to JJ2 was Lori. So, y’know. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to suggest that the guy’s that way inclined.

            As physical author appeal in fiction, file it alongside all the heroines with massive knockers.

          • Tacroy says:

            Though I have to say, I haven’t actually seen any “knockers” so far in the game.

            Even if the author leans that way, as you imply, the art in the game is not at all sexualized (at least as of Chapter 2).

          • TsunamiWombat says:

            It’s Fidgit, really. All the others are human enough. But Fidgit is just this amalgamation of terrible, but also has noticable feminine features (a chest and hips) that confuses the shit out of my brain.

            Fidgits thighs make me uncomfortable. There. I said it.

            http://static.giantbomb.com/uploads/original/8/88760/2293522-dustyhands.png

          • Zepp says:

            Looks like furry version of Tinker Bell but sexed up a bit.

          • wiper says:

            If only that was all he’d worked on. You might try searching for “Dean Dodrill” (the creator) and look at his other works. Noogy, for example.

            Feel free to then feel slightly dirty every time you play Dust.

          • Tacroy says:

            Have you seen Tinker Bell? She’s already fairly sexed up. I don’t think you can really make that argument.

          • jrodman says:

            For whatever reason I’m only mildly bothered by that Fidgit image. This is coming from someone who’s had far too much exposure to furries and finds them somewhat disturbing. But maybe that’s just given me a sense of perspective.

        • KDR_11k says:

          Furries may be high profile but if you look deeper into the abyss that is the internet you will find that fetishism encompasses many things you may have thought innocent before. Remember, many of the shock sites that people lure each other to feature photos that were actually taken from porn. Someone out there was buying porn like that. Oh and there are people who debate the optimal way to have sex with your car.

          So just stop worrying about rule 34 and just enjoy your life.

      • Sparkasaurusmex says:

        I don’t get the “hurdle” comment at all. If anything the art style is this game’s biggest strength. It looks gorgeous. Plays fluidly, too.

        • Focksbot says:

          Watch out – you’re asking them to think of things from another person’s point of view. That’s quite the challenge for the sort of gamer who gets freaked out by furries.

      • Time4Pizza says:

        What if this game had 8-bit retro style art? Or if it was zombie based like resident evil or gears of wars? What if it looked liked Mega Man, or like WoW?

        Sorry, but the art style matters, just as the graphics in EVERY game matter. Some people want to play a wizard, some people want to be a marine, some people want to be a space warrior, etc… And some people DON’T want to play as a giant talking rabbit.

        Just because the gameplay is fantastic does not mean the art style/graphics/type of role playing is completely meaningless. The developer happens to love furries, as apparently a lot of readers of RPS also do, but not all of us are particularly interested in the quest of baby blue rabbit.

        Give me Samus, or Link, or a ninja, or anything but a giant rabbit as a hero and I’d be a lot more interested in taking this game for a test drive.

        • mickygor says:

          I don’t see why it needs mentioning, though? It’s only ever anthropomorphic characters which have artstyle raised as a potential barrier to enjoyment of the game. Just as many people don’t enjoy all those things you rattled off as stuff you want.

    • hymnharmonia says:

      Why does every anthropomorphic *thing* immediately get equated with furries?
      Is Looney Tunes a furry thing? Well then how about Ducktales? Maybe Aesop’s fables?

      • LionsPhil says:

        Because furrydom has its roots in “funny animals”, i.e. anthropomorphics.

        If you’re going to try to form a is/is-not furry dividing line, you’re in for a very long and stupid argument (there are people who will answer “yes” to all of those questions). It’s questionable what use the result would be. So let’s not have it here, eh chaps.

      • Lemming says:

        Beatrix Potter was a pervert!

      • Caiman says:

        Because The Internet (TM) is lazy and immature. Next.

      • MadTinkerer says:

        Well for one thing, “furries” literally did mostly refer to “funny talking animals” before that goddamn Vanity Fair article skewed the idea sex-ward and was picked up by talk shows and sitcoms. In other words, the word picked up a distinct sexual tone because it was easier for the mainstream to understand it, and found it more interesting to discuss, as “a sex/lifestyle thing” rather than “a literary allegorical trope thousands of years old often used in kids cartoons, you know: the ones you used to watch, you damn idiots”.

        I’m not as bitter about the fandom’s image being corrupted (as I’m not really in the fandom myself, I know about it via animation and art forums) as I am about the vocabulary of a literary concept being corrupted. It’s especially grating because, as Lemming pointed out, it really does feel sometimes like Beatrix Potter and The Wind in the Willows and something like two thirds of all classic animation are being thrown under the ignorance bus.

      • Ninja Dodo says:

        The only people who care about ‘furries’ are those who complain about it loudly on the internet. Most people refer to them as anthropomorphic animals and don’t make a big thing out of it. Depicting animals with human qualities is as old as storytelling and has nothing to do with fringe sexual preferences. Really would be nice if people stopped talking about it every time someone draws an animal.

    • Urthman says:

      Now you know how some of us feel about most other video games. “Eww. There are dudes who are turned on by these deformed caricatures of women? I’ll just pretend that everyone else thinks they’re silly-looking cartoon characters.”

    • noodlecake says:

      The art style is the most solid thing about it. It’s one of the prettiest 2d games ever made, IMO. And the combat does get deeper and more challenging as the game goes on. It’s one of the best games I’ve played in a while. :)

    • AaronLee says:

      What does this game even have to do with the furry fandom? Sure, furries may appreciate the nod from the game’s art style but I don’t see why anthropomorphic characters gotta’ chafe people.

  2. BlackestTea says:

    I’m at about 50 percent through now. I’ve greatly enjoying it so far. A lot of character is in the game for sure and I’m thoroughly enjoying the combat, even just using the keyboard (no mouse or gamepad require, in my opinion). It is a bit on the easy side on normal, especially once you unlock some more advanced moves which you can essentially spam without getting hit while everything dies, but there are additional difficulties and such to combat that.
    I would heartily recommend it, honestly, as long as you are fine with the art style (I personally don’t mind it at all). I’m reluctant to say anything about the story so far, but I like a lot of the character work that has been done.

    P.S. I had an issue where the game defaulted to my operating system’s language which created a weird mix of English and German. It can be resolved by simply renaming the folder in the game’s directory which refers to your OS’s language (de, fr, etc.).

    • golem09 says:

      thank you so much.
      I played it in german, but the translation kind of sucks. And phony rpg item names always sound horrible in german.

  3. povu says:

    I’m playing this with mouse and keyboard and I’m not having any problems with that, the controls are really good.

    And damn, it looks good in 1080p. In that sense it reminds me of Bastion: The PC release really allows the graphics to shine as they deserve at their full resolution.

  4. Eclipse says:

    on xbox it runs on 720p, it’s good to see this is a proper PC release, with clean, full HD graphics

    • trjp says:

      Everything on XBOX runs at 720p – if your screen isn’t 720 it’s hardware up/downscaled but the game is still really just 720p

      720p is also HD so you’re being obtuse.

      • lordfrikk says:

        To be fair he said full HD which means 1080p.

        • trjp says:

          I’ve never heard it called ‘full HD’ and that seems a slippery slope because what will the next standard be – fuller?

          I know some people call it ‘True HD’ but that’s an even slipperier slope? :)

  5. RedViv says:

    Important note: Microsoft Game Studios published this game, on the PC, via Steam, and there is no GfWL anywhere.

    Rest in service hell, GfWL. Rest in service hell.

    • Noburu says:

      I hope its NOT resting in hell, but suffering immensely (it IS hell after all) along with uPlay.

    • LionsPhil says:

      Well, Windows 8 Live Store isn’t quite ready to take over yet. Give ‘em a few months.

    • Cantisque says:

      I’ve noticed the last few Microsoft releases didn’t include GFWL. Good on them! Glad to see this abomination being ditched.

  6. Crowl says:

    I picked it up this weekend as well, really enjoying it and for the price it is hard to go wrong.

  7. golem09 says:

    I played it for some hours. Then I started wondering about something:
    I pretty much use the magic attack + the flying whirlwind thingy ALL THE TIME. It cranks up the hit counter, and thus gvies more xp, stunlocks all the enemies, and allows me to be constantly out of reach.
    Now I’m pretty bored when thinking about picking it up again.

    Will that change? Will there be more interesting combat later on?

  8. Winged Nazgul says:

    As soon as I saw the TB WTF is I bought the game. That one man is responsible for a game of this quality is just insane. I’m not even a big fan of brawler/platformers. He also suggested playing it on Maximum difficulty as the game was too easy otherwise.

    • golem09 says:

      Yeah, I turned to hardcore rather quickly.
      After that I did enjoy how Blades of Time kicked my ass in normal.

  9. Yosharian says:

    This is a fucking fantastic game

  10. LionsPhil says:

    Given what gameplay video clips I’ve seen, I’m surprised by the lack of comments about Fidget being an annoying tiny flying support character with a squeaky voice. I thought gaming universally decided those were their own special doubly-insufferable version of Clippy years ago.

    • guygodbois00 says:

      Clippy!? Bleugh!

    • Morzak says:

      I didn’t find Fidget to be to annoying. It works pretty well but, I’m also not that far into the game, so maybe she will grate on my nerves after some time. I quite like her actually, she provides some humour and until now very well placed 4th wall breaking.

      Bu tmaybe I just like those tiny annoying characters if they’re done well.

    • Archonsod says:

      I found her bloody annoying by the time I got to the village. The plot is fairly generic amnesiac hero fare though, in a typical Japanese style, so you don’t miss much if you just keep the skip button permanently depressed when it tries to force the dialog on you.

      Combat is fun and the game looks gorgeous though, so I wouldn’t let the squeaking put you off.

      • Teovald says:

        As much as the game looks gorgeous, it also looks incredibly generic… -”No pressure of anything” -> most overused one liner of all time; along with the snappy sidekick. Not to mention the amnesiac hero..

    • Tacroy says:

      The difference is, Fidget has no in-game barks (besides maybe this subtle “ding” noise she makes to let you know you can interact with stuff).

      In conversations, she’s fully voiced which means she doesn’t repeat herself unless you talk to someone multiple times, and even then skipping through the voice acting is really easy.

      This is completely unlike Navi, who would go “Hey! Listen!” all the time in the exact same way.

  11. Shantara says:

    I’m currently at 85% completion and I love this game! Fluid combat, hand-drawn backgrounds, character animations, music – everything is absolutely amazing!

    Oh, and PC port has actually been done properly. There’s a surprising amount of options (especially for a 2D game). And it has save slots. Freaking save slots! Haven’t tried playing with KB+M though, so cannot say anything about it.

    There’s an issue that causes the game to load 4 of your CPU cores by 100%, but author said he has fixed it and is planning to patch the game soon.

    • Morzak says:

      The Port is damn amazing, all the options for a 2d game are there, he includes high res portraits for 1080P, the game looks just incredible in motion and the controls (Keyboard of X360 controller) are thight and responsive. Oh and you can move the HUD around and resize every element of it. You even get real save slots in addition to the Autosave.Honestly the Port alone commands respect, one Person did a better job then nearly all the AAA Publishers do.

      I’m only an hour into the game and I like it a lot. I have no problems with anthropomorphic animals, the character Art could be a little bit more original but the overall Art is just great. Fighting system is fun, I’m on Though and I would recommend starting it on Hardcore, if you like a challenge. Oh and the sound of the game is great and the voice acting better then I would have expected.

  12. trjp says:

    The reason you’re all enjoying the port is that the developer originally created the game on PC – then switched to XNA for MS’s benefit – but switched back and added even more goodies before coming to PC

    So that’s all the nerds happier than pigs in shit then…

  13. Kobest says:

    This looks fantastic! Hope it comes without Steam DRM pretty soon! :)

  14. Randomer says:

    I haven’t played it, but I’ve been listening to and adoring the soundtrack for months. As soon as I have a little bit of extra cash, I will most certainly be picking it up on loudr.fm (it seems that HyperDuck prefers that over Bandcamp).

  15. botd says:

    Tried it, thought it was really bland. I started on Hard and the game was never difficult and the combat was always simplistic. The first boss was a joke, just run up and attack him and he won’t get any attacks off or really do anything. Most sidescrolling beat-em ups have the advantage of a) a second player and b) combat that rises slightly above button mashing.

    The metroid (Metroid did it way before Castlevania, so why do we call it Metroidvania?) exploration is the only thing that kept me playing, but it’s not really done that well here. Most of the time it was like oh I need a gem key, or duct crawl or vine climbing to get over there. I was never left guessing about whether I had found everything. Finally, the environments just aren’t that interesting despite the very nice graphics and the storyline is a skipfest.

    I personally am surprised at the high marks this game received as it is not exceptional in any way and I daresay that the original Metroid (let alone Super Metroid) is a superior game.

    • Urthman says:

      Metroid did it way before Castlevania, so why do we call it Metroidvania

      Because Castlevania kept doing it on the GBA for so much longer past when there had been a proper 2D Metroid that gamers could have been forgiven for just calling it “Castlevania” style (except that would have also ignored the early Castlevania games that weren’t Metroidvania-style, not that similar concerns prevent anyone from describing games as Zelda-style when they’re nothing like the original Legend of Zelda).

    • Tacroy says:

      I’m not really sure what your point is; yes, Metroid was a better game. But if I want to play this style of game on my computer, I don’t exactly have very many options without resorting to piracy.

      And really, if you have to go to friggin’ Metroid – one of the best games ever made, ever, to the point where it created an entire genre – in order to point out a better game, that’s pretty high praise.

      If you really wanted to talk about comparable, better games, you shoulda gone with Iji.

      • botd says:

        Don’t you think we deserve better? After all it has been nearly twenty years since the original Metroid.

        Also, Castlevania only had SotN and Circle of the Moon between Super Metroid and Metroid Fusion. I wouldn’t really call that carrying the genre on its back. I will give you that the term has expanded to include things that Metroid doesn’t even do (rpg elements especially)

        The bottom line is that Dust is mostly about combat and the combat is really weak. Spamming your duststorm ability to get big combos while the enemies do basically nothing to you is really boring. I think everything else is solid if not exceptional, such as the barebones leveling and equipment system and the exploration. Nevertheless, you spend most of your time in listless combat or in silly dialogues with annoying voice actors. Just because it’s a great genre with few entries doesn’t mean we should be accepting mediocrity.

    • dE says:

      There are quite a few differences between a Metroid Game and Metroidvanias. The latter inject a much stronger focus on Story, Dialog and RPG Aspects such as: Levels, Shops, Loot, Items, Spells. The former focuses more on individual skill and exploration. I expect something entirely different from a Metroid game than I do from a Metroidvania game.

  16. Jupiah says:

    Eh. It looks really nice but the combat system is very shallow. Very quickly you’ll realize that the magic attack + whirlwind is the best option 90% of the time, and there are only a tiny number of different combo attacks anyway. It’s also really easy even on hard, and impossible just turns you into a one-hit-point-wonder so you can’t make any mistakes, it doesn’t actually make the enemies smarter or better fighters. The flying sidekick is unbelievably annoying and embarrassing to listen to, and the story isn’t anything to write home about either.

    It’s worth playing through once just to enjoy the beautiful settings and art style, but there’s nothing there to draw you in or give it any replay value. The game’s beauty is only skin deep.

  17. jorygriffis says:

    Played the demo back on XBOX some months ago. The designs are stilted, noisy and ugly, the colors are hideous, and the writing and voice acting are just beyond bad. I was initially pretty excited about a high-quality, 2D metroidvania-type game when I saw this game advertised, and I’m sure it’s some peoples’ cup of tea, but on aesthetics alone, it definitely ain’t mine.

  18. SherryMorris27 says:

    before I saw the paycheck which said $7489, I didnt believe that my best friend was like trully taking home money in there spare time on their apple laptop.. there friends cousin started doing this for under 9 months and just repaid the loans on their mini mansion and bought a brand new Lexus LS400. this is where I went, Bow6.com

  19. engion3 says:

    Picked this game up. Sort of reminds me of Viewtiful Joe. I see myself completing it.