My review of 'Dust: An Elysian Tail' goes like this: I wish I had bought it.
I donít mean I hacked it or downloaded it illegally or anything (somewhat difficult to do on a console Ė itís literally easier to just purchase games!) but the reason I got it at all was that it was free for Playstation Plus users for a while and it got recommended on Podcast Beyond months ago. So it just sat on my PS4 while I was playing other fare. *cough* The Order 1886 *cough cough* Child of Light *cough cough*
I wasnít really too sure what to expect but I do remember being taken aback by the menu screen when I first started it up; it was so detailed and carefully drawn, with the most beautiful music playing. And that beautiful music never stopped. I checked the soundtrack afterwards and was taken aback by how many tracks there were. There was not a single piece of music in the game that I didnít care for. So if I really want to contribute money towards the game producer(s) Iíll purchase the soundtrack for as high as I deem suitable. And I will.
Quick review points: Music = Excellent, Visuals = Excellent, Graphics Specs = well all the backgrounds and sprites were hand-drawn and so beautiful, which made the motion blur every time I ran with Dust all the more annoying. I've decided I'm fed up with motion blur in games. Controls = could be better. I found it annoying that I could never sprint with Dust. Plus a personal pet peeve; the Challenge Arenas don't offer me the option of simply selecting restart whenever I feel I've slipped up. The OCD within me always acts up during these kinds of challenge dungeons and side challenges, so I tend to find it a relief that I can just restart if I put a foot wrong...maybe I shouldn't look at it that way? Oh and sometimes I found the platforming a bit slippery; while Dust jumps very stiffly, he can swivel in the air far too easily. Bosses = far too easy.
Despite these flaws though, I remain absolutely floored that ONE GUY drew, animated, scripted and programmed everything himself. OK allegedly he had some help with scripting, no doubt due to the Voice Actors ad-libbing once in a while. And I have to point out, despite the gameplay being a straightforward 2D platform side-scroller (or maybe not so straightforward, considering the Metroidvania layout) I really did get the sense I was traversing a vast, wide world. Then the great battle at the end, I really did feel like I was among soldiers, fighting off other soldiers, surrounded by chaos and mayhem. Being able to take down gunships added to the frenetic climax.
The story goes like this: you play as the titular character Dust, who awakes to see the Sword of Ahrah come towards him, advising the amnesiac hero that his name is Dust. (You read that correctly, the sword can talk.) Then a Nimbat called Fidget comes by, joining Dust as a sidekick for the simple reason she is the Sword Guardian and wants it back. So the characters begin their quest to rid the fantasy world of Falana of monsters, find out who Dust is and save the race known as Moonbloods. I'm really not going to say much more beyond this as I really wish to not spoil the story for anyone, I'm that desperate for people to try and play it. But I will say this: despite the whimsical presentation of the story and the child-friendly character designs using anthropomorphic animals, the story is actually very mature and doesn't shy away from the hard topics at all. There are an awful lot of morally ambiguous characters, with other characters judging and taking sides against one another. Even in the first village, there is a character that is an outright jerk. There is even a mission where, despite being successful, a character still dies; everyone properly mourns the loss and Dust and Fidget get very cut-up about it.
While I applaud this aspect of the story, I was disappointed when the game ended without properly addressing why certain people wanted to hunt the Moonbloods in the first place. To be fair, I later learned that this part of the story had to be cut as the game was taking longer than expected to be completed. The programmer, Dean, has now confirmed he intends to make a sequel. There is so much world to explore and so many grey areas and loose ends that need to be addressed, so I am very happy to hear this news.