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On 01/24/2012 at 12:00 PM by Mike Wall
Trash has never looked so good.
A must play for platformer fans who like a challenge.
Janitors with an affinity for aerial acrobatics – say no more, I’m in. Dustforce is a peculiar concoction, simultaneously delivering serenity and insanity. It’s like a Siren luring in unsuspecting bystanders with its unprecedented beauty only to reveal an unnerving ferocity. Harboring difficulty on par with Super Meat Boy and N, Dustforce differentiates itself with its soothing melodic ambiance. While this game tests your limits and perhaps even your sanity – it is oddly enjoyable.
Minimalistic in its approach, Dustforce offers little in the way of story, instead opting to shift its focus on the gameplay. Which is welcomed considering Dustforce delivers some of the cleanest controls seen in the action-platformer genre. The responsiveness of each command is refreshing, even the slightest twitch of the hand corresponds with the desired action. Learning the custodial-arts is simple: run, dash, jump, smack, and the occasional well-timed combo are all it takes to become a sweeping star. In fact Dustforce on its face is actually quite easy. With no fear of death and unlimited attempts available, players will have no problem completing levels. The real difficulty derives from its numerous unlocks.
Interestingly enough more than half the levels present within the Dustforce universe are initially locked. To unlock these levels players are required to earn keys. How do you earn keys? Well it’s simple enough – all Dustforce asks is that you complete each level to perfection … and look good while doing it. At the end of each level Completion and Finesse grades are rewarded (ranging F through S): Completion refers to how much dirt has been collected, while Finesse refers to the player’s ability to keep their combo intact while traversing the level. To receive a key, the coveted SS grade is required; meaning that players must not only collect all the trash in the level, but do so without getting struck by enemies in a timely manner to keep their combos intact.
Sound incredibly difficult and frustrating? It is, but it’s also immensely rewarding. Combined with the smooth animations, beautiful yet simplistic art design, and awe inspiring music – the “perfect run” is truly a spectacle to behold. Honestly I never thought that picking up trash could look so cool. While the challenge presented by the gameplay will make you want to smash your controller in a fit of rage, the music and scenery helps dissolve your stress. They counteract each other perfectly allowing the player to reach an almost Zen-like state which is a good thing, as you will need it to achieve some of the impossible goals set out before you.
Mercifully Dustforce also allows players to learn from one another. After completing each level, players will be able to view replays of other runs. Whether it’s admiring the masters who effortlessly completed the task you spent the better half of an hour trying to complete, or simply laughing at your friends’ misguided attempts. Replays serve to both entertain and teach. With perfection being the goal, every meticulous move and strategy is vital.
Dustforce also allows people to compete against each other in local multiplayer. The King of the Hill style gameplay is interesting and a nice diversion, but the fact that the multiplayer only allows for local play makes it little more than that. The game also institutes a level editor (which is sadly unavailable at this point) which should make for even more mind melting challenges ahead!
Dustforce is an acquired taste. The game does an excellent job introducing the basics, but wants you to master the nuances on your own. Failure will come and it will come often, but it only serves to make success that much sweeter. Dustforce is great for those who like to challenge themselves, but it may be too large an order for those who like their experiences spoon fed.