Developer: Hitbox Team/QLOC
Review Platform: Xbox 360
Release Date: April 25, 2014
I think we all remember Super Meat Boy, the legendary hardcore platformer that transformed the indie gaming market, and a game heavily featured in Indie Game the Movie respectively. While Dustforce definitely borrows elements from it’s Meaty cousin, it doesn’t nail everything quite as well but still entertains and threatens to crack your controller with your own man strength. Dustforce not only captures the spirit of classic Sega Genesis anthems to gaming, but revitalizes them for a modern taste.
The Japanese anime artstyle and influence in Dustforce is immediately apparent. Lush environments litter Dustforce, and I meant that to be the punniest line I’ve ever written in a review. The point of Dustforce is simple, you pick your favorite character and go sweep up dust in a number of stylish and explosively difficult ways. While difficult platformers can be staggeringly frustrating, It’s usually because you did something wrong, Dark Souls style. Sometimes you mess up and die solely due to the fact that the game’s hit detection and controls are not fine tuned well enough, and cause you to perish because your character doesn’t respond the way he should. Dark Souls style! Unlike other platformers however, Dustforce creates pure adrenaline when you’re actually playing the game as it is intended, watching your character undergo a ballet of really cool movies reminiscent of stuff you’d see in Attack on Titan.
Apart from the garnishing difficulty, DarkSoulsForce does a lot of things right. The music, for one, is chilling and haunting. The soundscapes threaten to mesmerize you in a trance of arpeggios and emotion, but I sometimes wondered if this was a good thing. The tracks in the game repeat themselves often and the emotion is lost to a game without a story. I would also like to add that the music was a bit too relaxed to the pace of the game, while it sounded great, something straight out of Monstercat’s library, it didn’t vibe well with what was happening on the screen.
Another quirk Dustforce shares with Dark Souls is how you don’t really know where to go in the beginning, and the game doesn’t lend itself to explanation very well. It took me a while to find out that the NPC’s you pass in the hub world are actually giving you extremely crucial bits of information for gameplay.While the game doesn’t have to explain this, an proper introduction would have been a welcome edition.
Dustforce sports local multiplayer for up to four players, with King of the Hill styled modes and survival, but multiplayer in Dustforce is generally wasted as there isn’t really much fun to had due to the game’s precise controls go haywire when four players are on screen at once.
I would say Dustforce is akin to it's older brother, Super Meat Boy, but I would have to underline it with the phrase "Could have done better!" A sophomoric attempt at creating a difficult platformer became a very beautiful game with no story, pacing, character development or memorable content. If you're a leaderboard troll, you'll probably really like Dustforce, as it allows you to go crazy and obsessive with it's scoring and attention to perfection. However if you're just trying to enjoy a simple platformer, I would turn the other cheek to this one.