Friday, January 27, 2012

Dustforce Review

Dust and grime surround us. Every day, they gather atop coffee tables and in beyond kitchen corners, but no more. In Dustforce, it's time to fight back. 5th Filth falls before four acrobatic janitors--each identical parts ninja and handyman. Their world is built on speed and has you building momentum while sweeping away patches of leaves and battling waste-covered foes. It's up to you to determine how these chores piece together to earn the best score, and when you do, it's immensely satisfying.

Dustforce Review
DustForce Review

There is a unique economy of movement in Dustforce that must be mastered to succeed. Running and jumping are simple. It's when you start zipping around in midair that things get tricky. For instance, most characters can either double jump or dash while in the air. That is, unless you defeat an enemy while airborne. Then you can either dash again or make a third jump. And once you touch the ground, the whole system resets. If this sounds confusing, don't worry; the game eases you into this system through a comprehensive tutorial stage and several basic early stages.

At the end of each stage, you're graded on completion, finesse (a blanket term that factors in your combo meter, whether you defeated all enemies and the like), and speed. If you perform well enough, you earn keys that unlock doors leading to more challenging stages. Each stage also has two unique leaderboards: one for overall score and another for time. However, the best feature is the replay support for each entry on the leaderboards. These can offer insight into surmounting the tougher stages. They also offer plenty of "That doesn't look so hard" moments and feed into the game's already addictive nature.

Compared to other 2D platformers, such as the masterful Super Meat Boy, Dustforce feels slower and heavier. This weight stems from the extra layers of complexity afforded by the game's movement and combat. For combat, each character has a light and heavy attack. By chaining light attacks together you can propel your character through the air while striking an enemy. Hitting a foe with a single, heavy attack is faster; however, this leaves behind a patch of filth for you to clean up. Everything--from cleaning to combat--feeds into your combo meter.


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