Dustforce Review


by Hitbox Team

It would be easy for me to compare the similarities between a game like Dustforce and something else, like say, Super Meat Boy.  Both pay homage to the classic action platforming genre.  They’re both fast paced games that are uniquely coloured and animated.  They also contain tight control schemes, and provide a level of challenge that even the most adept masters of hand-eye co-ordination might find themselves sweating to.  Both play great and are simply great games to play, though the focus of their objectives need to be approached from different angles.

When all is said and done, I’d argue that Dustforce is the more “Arcadey” of the two, and that it might even be slightly more challenging in terms of the actual skill level needed to perform well.  That’s what Dustforce‘s main object is – to perform well.  The level layouts might be different from one stage to the next, but the goal remains the same throughout.

You see, unlike Super Meat Boy, where death is frequent, expected, and could possibly be used as a measurement of challenging gameplay, Dustforce relies on challenging gamers not with death, but with the speed at which they complete a level by taking the quickest route while making as few mistakes as possible.  Instead of death, players are challenged by the fact that they are penalized for missing their goal of sweeping up every last bit of dirt or dust within a level and by the mistakes they made along the way.

This makes for some pretty intense gameplay, especially when you want to become good at it.  Thankfully, the gameplay isn’t made up of frustrating moments and the difficulty level doesn’t prevent gamers from progressing either.  Anyone can complete a level, but how well you can complete that level will depend on how much time and effort you put into it.  With every improved playthrough of a level, there’s a sense of accomplishment.  That’s what Dustforce does very well and why I like to compare it to the classic arcade games of yesteryear when people would set out to play a game for the coveted number one spot on the highscore table.  In Dustforce you don’t have to be number one to enjoy the game, but it’s a very satisfying experience when you realize you’re getting better and better and start beating your own scores, let alone someone else.

Dustforce also features a competitive multiplayer mode (local only) that plays almost like a fighting game in the style of Smash Bros.  There’s a large hub-world to explore where skilled players can earn access to new and bonus levels.  There are 4 playable characters in the campaign mode (which honestly didn’t feel much different from one another).  Online leaderboards for each and every level, and a replay option where gamers can watch level replays of other players performances that have been posted to the leaderboard.  These are all great features and additions to an already solid, fast, and fun gaming experience.

The graphics are somewhat retro, but they’re colourful, detailed, and stylized in a way that make this 2D side-scrolling platformer look great even today.  The sound is equally good and will appeal to anyone who loves 16-bit era SNES and Genesis style music and sound, only made modern.

Dustforce is one of those fast paced platformers that has a lot of replay value.  There are numerous levels, but playing through them the first time is only half of the fun.  Returning to each level again and again while challenging yourself to play through them better each time makes up the other half.  It’s extremely satisfying when you start inching your way up the leaderboards.  If you enjoy that sort of challenge and can appreciate games that promote skill and tenacity, then you’ll enjoy Dustforce.  Don’t expect another Meat Boy.  Instead, expect a game that will provide all of the challenging fun, but for different reasons.  If you’re like me and enjoy challenging platformers with elements from classic arcade games, online leaderboards, and good, clean, frenetic fun, then you should definitely buy Dustforce.

You can purchase Dustforce on Steam.

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