This year we decided to collectively look at each of the Summer of Arcade games. So all this week we’ve been posting roundtable discussions of the games in order of release (Tony Hawk, Wreckateer, Deadlight, Hybrid). Today we end with the most well received game in the line-up. Humble Hearts’ Dust: An Elysian Tail, takes a tried and true formula and adds some oft-times breathtaking art to make an incredibly solid package.
Andrew Crews: Dust is gorgeous
Nick Santangelo: Like, really gorgeous.
Ross Adams: It really is spectacular to look at, it’s a wonderful world to explore.
Nick Santangelo: It definitely takes me back to classic animation from my youth and even cartoons from before my time. It’s a wonderful throwback, and just about every area of the game looks fantastic.
Andrew Crews: As gorgeous as it is, I believe they do themselves a disservice in the levels that are pitch black and force you to carry a fruit all the way through. Even the UI looks good and could have been easily overlooked like Kingdoms of Amalur for example.
Ross Adams: Those dark sections annoyed me a little too, felt there could’ve been a better solution, rather than dragging a fruit along.
Andrew Crews: What about combat though? I feel it is incredibly satisfying. But that said, I do tend to stick to the same 5-6 things that can kill most enemies. But I know there is room to grow and that is cool.
Ross Adams: I felt there could be a little more variety to it, seems Fidget’s powers are the only thing that really change things up and even then it’s more a visual thing than anything. That said the combat is satisfying and it just looks really cool.
Nick Santangelo: The combat, as I wrote in my review, just feels right in the game. Slashing away at some baddies is incredibly satisfying, especially when you add in Fidget’s powers and start flying through the air with that spinning move. I do agree that you ultimately end up leaning on a few of the same techniques most of the way, but the same could be said for most any action game.
Andrew Crews: I thought she was useless at first too but she gives you time to breath and lets your combo build while doing so.
Ross Adams: I don’t know about you guys, but I’m surprised how engrossed I’ve been in the story, characters and world in general. It’s not especially original or anything but the voice acting and presentation is really solid, and I’ve found myself getting a bit lost in it.
Andrew Crews: I’ll be honest, I could care less about all of that. It seems generic and boring to me because it’s the same “must save a village and become their hero” thing I have heard a thousand variations on.
Nick Santangelo: I haven’t found myself caring too much about the story. It’s not that it’s bad; it’s just kind of there. It works just fine for what it is, but I usually find myself itching to get back into the mix of things when the story bits start dragging on.
Andrew Crews: But I never really care for story in 95% of games so take that with a grain of salt. I’m with Nick, even if you are engrossed in the story, there are some scenes that take way too long and Iwould stop caring about any story at that point.
Nick Santangelo: Exactly, and I’m the type of person who usually gets into game stories. The story in Dust sort of breaks down the pacing in some parts. Some NPC is yammering away about who this character might really be or what this person may have done, but it’s so transparent that it doesn’t even make any sense for the game to try to maintain an air of mystery around it. Thankfully, you can hit A to skip lines of dialogue and shoot back into combat or world exploration or what have you quicker. And things do actually get a tad more interesting towards the end when the cut-scenes start rolling.
Andrew Crews: As far as it having a lot of RPG elements, I’m very relieved to find that you can easily make your way through the game without caring about any of that. I have never once crafted an item and I have only stopped to change my equipment two times so far after 9ish hours. I love that I don’t have to care about all the crap you pick up because you pick up a lot of crap.
Nick Santangelo: That’s true. There are all these sidequests and there is the crafting and all of that type of stuff for you there if you appreciate that sort of thing, or you can just skip it completely if you want to.
Ross Adams: Yeah, in contrast to Andrew, I craft everything that’s better than my current stuff and have been making sure to do as many sidequests as I can before furthering the main story stuff.
Andrew Crews: It lets me play the game the way I want to play it; as a 2D side-scrolling beat-em-up. I love when games do that. Too many devs force you to play games the way they intended it to be played.
Nick Santangelo: I tend to really enjoy RPG elements, and it’s nice that Humble Hearts put that stuff in there to flesh things out, but it’s great that it can largely be skipped for those who don’t want to be bothered. I’ve mostly skipped the side quests and crafting myself, largely because it’s kind of a pain to go back to town when you’re plowing your way through the main story.
Andrew Crews: So given that I never use items in this game though, I have nearly 100,000 un-used money and here is my issue with that: The only thing I buy at the store is the keys, and they have been sold out for about 3 hours of gameplay at this point. Despite the bottom left of the screen always telling me that the store has been restocked.
Kyle Aufderheide: Keys don’t get restocked.
Andrew Crews: The most important thing in this game to me is finding the hidden friends and that is why I need a lot of keys. It kind of kills that for me at times.
Nick Santangelo: That is a crazy amount of money. I usually have a few thousand at any given time. I’ve spent a lot on health items and a decent amount on weapon/armor upgrades. I haven’t bought any keys yet; I’ve always had enough when I’ve come across a chest.
Andrew Crews: Yeah but some chests take 4-5 keys at one time. And those are the chests that I am the most concerned with. In closing I think Dust is an awesome game, with a ton of content. You get a lot of bang for your buck with this one for sure. It gets better with each hour as well, it never seems like you are grinding which a ton of games with RPG elements force you to do.
Nick Santangelo: It’s an excellent action game with some light RPG elements — and did we mention it looks pretty? There are a few issues with pacing and some other minor annoyances, but nothing big enough to significantly drag it down. Go play it.
Ross Adams: In a Summer of Arcade that kind of meandered around in obscurity, it ended very strong with Dust for sure.
Andrew Crews: Yeah, Dust stole the show.
Nick Santangelo: Yeah, I’m really happy that the final game lived up to my expectations after playing the demo at PAX East earlier this year. It’s always nice when that happens.
Be sure to check out our other roundtable articles to see what we had to say about the rest of this years Summer of Arcade games. Let us know your thoughts in the comments.