Review: Dustforce / Developer: Hitbox Team, QLOC / Publisher: Digital Distribution, Capcom / Platform: Playstation Vita, Playstation 3, Xbox 360, Linux, OS X, PC / Release Date: Out Now
If there was ever a game which should not be judged by its basic premise it is Dustforce. For a platformer notable for the skillful design choices behind its simplistic gameplay and genre, it has the most unappetising plot imaginable: navigate the map while picking up rubbish and fallen leaves as a cleaner.
Zooming about at breakneck speed, your task is to clean up the level as fast as possible while delivering the most effective combo chains on any foes you stumble into. Possessing acrobatic skills usually only found in ninjas, the cleaners are able to perform wall jumps, mid-air dashes and hang from ceilings to reach the end as fast as possible. All the while they automatically clean up everything in their path while encountering the sorts of environmental hazards usually reserved for Mario.
Both skills at air juggling foes and traversing each level are needed to access new areas, as you are ranked by both finesse and the level’s completion. Proceed too slowly or take too many hits and your level of finesse goes down. Rush through too quickly without seeing enough of the area and your completion score will be miserably low. Managing to achieve an S rank in both will grant one of a series of coloured keys, allowing access to new areas in the overworld.
Speaking of the overworld, one of Dustforce’s strengths on the PC was the fan-created levels. With hundreds built upon the selection originally released with the game, the booming community and wealth of fan content was a major draw. It’s just unfortunate that the console release is lacking this. While a good hundred and fifty fan-created levels, voted on by the community, have been added to the game, this lack of freedom is still a frustrating shortcoming.
Multiplayer also feels mishandled. Local multiplayer support is welcome, but the lack of any online play means that you’re rarely going to use it. Even without this issue however, it feels mishandled. While half the players serve as enemies from the game and the others cleaners, it initially appears as if you need to clean and fight until you achieve victory. This is in fact not the case at all, but you would never know this unless you looked it up.
Beyond these minor failings however, there really is very little to truly criticise. The game has often been compared with Super Meat Boy and N+ and fans of those titles will definitely be left grinning with the fast-paced, challenging experience it offers. If you’re after a decent platformer then give it a try.