Dust Complete!

As the credits started rolling on Dust: An Elysian Tail yesterday, I dropped the controller and shouted, “Thank. GAWD.”

Not because I didn’t enjoy the 18 hours spent slicing my way through to completion, but because I decided to do so on the Hardcore setting where a single hit will almost always kill you and where spikes, lava or any other environmental hazard will make your blood boil in frustration.

There’s a section in Cimmaron Caves with pockets of spikes on the ceiling and floor. Simple enough to navigate on their own, but not when there are giant poison-spewing bulbs laced throughout. I think I must have spent five hours watching Dust bounce around like a ragdoll into death. I’m pretty sure it took me longer to reload my save than it did to die.

There’s no aerial recovery in Dust: Any Elysian Tail. This means that if you take a hit from an enemy or, say, get splashed with posion juice, you’re going for a ride. Usually into spikes. I went through three Revival Stones on the final boss from just bouncing around in lava. At one point, I’d grabbed Gaius in that swanky mid-air dive-bomb and watched in abject horror as I plummitted for what seemed like an eternity directly into the river of hot death below.

Frustrating.

The combat is a lot of fun, but I quickly realized that the most effective way to dispatch enemies was to knock them into the air, perform a three-hit combo into dive-bomb, then repeat the process on any airborne baddies until none are left standing. I was disappointed to find that Dust doesn’t receive any new attack combos even though the combat never actually felt stale.

But those are really my only complaints! I loved that the game kept feeding me new abilities up to the very end, because even something as simple as double-jump breathed new life and avenues of exploration into the stages. It was great to see so many other indie characters hidden throughout, and solving the environmental puzzles to get to the numerous treasures was thrilling.

Dust is a great game, and I’m not going to caveat that with “considering its development” or “for an Xbox Live Arcade game”.

Dust: An Elysian Tail is a great game. Period.

Next, I think I’ll pay a visit to The Kid and see if we can’t set this calamity straight.

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