Sprint, leap, and clean towards victory. Dustforce celebrates precision platforming, and embraces its 2D roots by spritzing the whole experience with colorful characters and a grooving anime twist. In Dustforce, players gun for the best time and most complete run through more than 50 stages.
Originally developed by a small indie team for the PC crowd, Capcom is bringing Dustforce to PS3 and PS Vita. All the charm and addictive play of the PC version returns, along with online multiplayer (ranked and private), shiny Trophies, and cross save support. Now the PlayStation community can train to become the greatest of ninja janitors the world has ever known.
The Capcom crew brought Dustforce by for Justin and me to play. Listen to our interview with them below, then read on for our full impressions.
Dustforce gives players room to breathe. At the start, stages are short, simple, and teach newcomers how to successfully navigate obstacles and clean up the most dust to achieve high scores. Jumps are cozy, and the levels themselves are designed to pull the player into a flow.
One run through a stage reveals the layout and enemy placement, as well as where players need to sweep up dust. Sometimes, one run is all it takes to complete the level. But in subsequent runs, experimentation and happy accidents coalesce into tangible knowledge of how to shave seconds off your completion time, and maximize dust cleaned up. This ups end-level ranks, and opens even harder stages to tackle.
There are four characters to chose from at the onset of a stage. Though each character shares a basic set of controls, the four differ in their jump and dash distance, as well as their attack range. This allows players to find the perfect fit for each level, as well as select a style that works best for them. The differences of the four are subtle, but those subtleties have tremendous impact as players advance deeper and deeper into the thick challenge of later courses.
Fortunately, death and failure don’t sting in Dustforce like they do in other games. Stages are short enough to work through in less than a minute, which means pushing faster times and improving player ability is a more natural, well-paced commitment. And you look cool when you play well! One of the best rewards in gaming comes from that sense of style and skill rooted in a mastery of play.
Dustforce enables this with painless lessons and clear goals. It’s the kind of game to get lost in, even if it means messing up a few times just to get the feel of it. Sooner than later, you’ll be climbing the leaderboards like the best of them.
This is a game that speaks to the perfectionist in me. The more you play Dustforce, the less tolerance you’ll have for even the smallest mistake; you can always shave another half-second off that run.
Your repertoire in Dustforce is not a big one, but every move counts: Jump, dash, wall-run, and attacks of varying power. I say “attacks” because “sweeping” doesn’t convey the energy implied by your characters’ animations — you are not a simple janitor; you are a highly trained dust-elimination machine.
It’s the wall-runs in particular that set Dustforce apart from other similarly-minded action platformers. Long jumps will seem impossible, and they would be if not for your ability to cling to a wall and run along it. You can dash or double-jump (triple-jump if you’re playing as Dustkid) once in the air, but landing on the ground or clinging to a wall resets this, allowing for some truly intense runs.
Dustforce rewards momentum in a major way. As you flawlessly execute a run, your combo multiplier builds, eventually culminating in a super move (super sweep?) you can unleash on unsuspecting detritus. Miss that pixel-precise jump or whiff a dust cloud though, and kiss that multiplier goodbye. Remember that lack of tolerance for mistakes I mentioned above? This is where it hits the hardest.
By the way, this game gets hard. I got to try my hand at one of Dustforce’s sadistic secret levels, and it took me 20 minutes to get halfway through and finally give up. I foresee very few players conquering Dustforce’s more taxing stages. Of course, skipping straight to one of the hardest levels in a game isn’t the best way to play, but it’s encouraging to see that there’s something to work toward.
I’d be remiss not to mention Dustforce’s stellar soundtrack. Mixing chiptune beats with expertly crafted melodies, it provides a perfectly contrasted backdrop to the games frenetic, yet blissful action.
Dustforce is set to clean up on PS3 and PS Vita early next year — and I can’t wait.
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