I had Dust: An Elysian Tail a long time before I played it, mainly because I heard it described as a 2D sidescrolling platformer with “Metroidvania” elements, and didn’t realize it was also an RPG.
Dust is an action RPG complete with side quests and towns (if only a couple). Each time you level up, you choose one of four stats to increase.
Combat is simple, with hack-and-slash melee attacks, a whirlwind attack, and magic you can combine with your whirlwind attack for devastating effect. Although it isn’t complex, it’s generally enjoyable to chop your way through enemies.
Near the end of the game, when I backtracked through early areas for treasure I couldn’t access before, I liked to whirlwind my way across the screen, destroying enemies in my wake and building up experience. The experience you earn from battle increases based on critical hits and the length of your combos.
As you proceed through the game, you learn new abilities, which in turn let you access previously-unreachable areas. Backtracking is rarely necessary to advance the plot, but there are many treasures and secret areas to discover.
As for the story, its premise is intriguing. Dust wakes up with no memory and sets out in search of answers with a sentient sword named Ahrah and its guardian, a bat-like creature named Fidget. (With the exception of Ahrah, all the characters are anthropomorphic animals.)
Fidget is one of the story’s highlights. Her banter with Dust is entertaining, as is her often-sarcastic commentary on their adventures. (“The Sorrowing Meadow? Is that somewhere between Blood-Death Gulch and Endless Pain Hill?”)
Although the plot has hints of deeper concepts behind the basic story of good and evil, it never gains much depth.
This might be because the original story had to be cut by 1/3. I felt underwhelmed by the story’s conclusion, and that lost third might have been just what it needed.
While the gameplay is simple and the story misses its full potential, they come together to make Dust: An Elysian Tail quite an enjoyable journey overall. If you enjoy action RPGs and Metroidvania platformers, give Dust a try. There’s also a physical limited-run collector’s edition.
Let me know your thoughts on Dust: An Elysian Tail in the comments below. As for me, I’ll dream of the day we get a remake with the removed third of the game intact.
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