Developer HitBox Team
Things You Might Like
- Minimalist graphical style
- Challenging gameplay
- A novel concept
- Works with a controller!
Things You Might Not Like
- Minimalist graphical style
- Occasionally the gameplay can be too challenging
Dustforce offers a parkour janitor adventure wrapped in delightful graphics and complemented by challenging gameplay. While the controls can seem a little frustrating at time, the good outweighs the bad.
4 out of 5 Streets Cleaned
Imagine a world covered in all sorts of detritus. Dust, grime, goo, and…dead leaves are everywhere. Worse yet, it doesn’t just coat your favorite park bench, but also your favorite person/animal; turning them into angry creatures that will break the sweet combo you’ve got going (thanks a lot, Grandma). In Hitbox Team’s Dustforce, you are a part of a cadre of elite cleaners armed with everyday cleaning tools on a mission to clean up the streets, labs, and mansions covered with this mess. I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking: ‘Josh, can’t I just go dust my front porch and live out this fantasy in the real world?’ NO! Unless you are some sort of free-running parkour cleaning ninja, the entertainment of Dustforce would pass you by should you take your IRL broom out for a spin.
As I just said, Dustforce stars a nimble, quick-footed cleaning crew each sporting their own color and dusting apparatus. You start off with the standard, overall-clad Blue character wielding a push broom, though you can change your avatar at the start of every level. I should note that the other characters all play the same, though they do look different. Each level is designed to be a brief adventure into a particular segment of the area you are in. Dustforce sports an overworld split into several different areas with doors (both locked and unlocked) to select your missions. I am ashamed to say I have not unlocked any doors yet. For you see, each level is graded on completion and finesse. If you get a perfect rating on both, harder levels will open up. If you….don’t/can’t, those areas remain locked for the time being. This reminds me of Team Meat’s Super Meat Boy, wherein an A+ rating would grant you access to the more challenging maps.
Right away Dustforce‘s tutorial will familiarize you with the mechanics. Think of it as a cross between planning Mirror’s Edge and dusting the mantle; or Sonic the Hedgehog meets Rosie the Robot from The Jetsons. The twist on the standard Move + Weak/Strong Attacks combination comes into play in three ways. First, by holding the Up key, your character will automatically scale a wall/ceiling to an extent. This is absolutely critical and you will not survive without mastering this. The second variation is that striking enemies in mid-air propels both them and you in the direction of your attack. You will not be able to clear some distances without juggling yourself and a leaf-coated raccoon via your attacks, so practice this one for sure. Lastly, continuously cleaning builds up a meter on the screen which will allow you to make a series of epic, anime-inspired dashes around the screen, cleaning all within. This is a great way to finish a level and the folks at Hitbox Team know it. I admit, I felt pretty cool finishing up a level with a series of lightspeed push-broom strikes.
Aside from the sheer joy of it, Dustforce also offers a competitive aspect. Each level grades you on Completion (amount of the level cleaned/enemies neutralized) and Finesse (maintaining your momentum) while also generating a score. This score can be measured against online scoreboards so you can see just how triumphantly (or in my case: pitifully) you strike down the forces of clutter. This aspect is great for gamers who’ve enjoyed games like Super Meat Boy or Audiosurf and want to show off against other folks online.
Dustforce is pretty easy on the eyes and ears. Graphically, it employs a sort of minimalist art style that belies the simple nature of the game. Not to imply that this game is easy. In fact, the difficulty is one of the things that will turn some people off to it. Maintaining your momentum can be pretty difficult and some areas will require multiple attempts to complete them. You may find yourself hurling your keyboard across the room a few times. However, after you adjust to the pacing and control scheme (which takes some getting used to), you’ll start tearing through levels and really enjoying the experience. The soundtrack, though limited, does offer some entertaining tunes that compliment the areas in which you find yourself. I wouldn’t mind mixing this into my videogame soundtrack playlist.
All in all, though Dustforce may cause some consternation, it’s a fun little game that offers a welcome distraction. It’s a great title to pick up for a few minutes here and there, though you may find yourself engrossed in it once you get on a roll. Oh, did I mention that it has local multiplayer? Unfortunately I wasn’t able to try it out as of this review, so I can’t comment on it. From the looks of it, though, it could be pretty interesting.
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