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  1. Time to play more of the amazing #HollowKnight! Come watch on #Twitch tonight and laugh at my lack of direction and dying to simple enemies. Or you know, maybe actually make some great progress. ROYZYABOY!
  2. Time for a new game! Tune in tonight for #HollowKnight on #Twitch! Going to be enjoying that good ol' Metroidvania awesomeness! Come spam some of those awesome emotes, especially that #greenranger hype! Royzyaboy!
  3. Jason Clement

    Review: SteamWorld Dig 2

    Developer: Image & Form International AB Publisher: Image & Form International AB Platform: Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4, PS Vita Release Date: September 21, 2017 (Switch), September 22 (PC), September 26 (PS4, PS Vita) ESRB: E for Everyone Note: This review is based on the Nintendo Switch version of the game Four years ago, SteamWorld Dig propelled Swedish studio Image & Form to indie game developer stardom. Given its breakout success, it only makes sense that they'd return to it at some point. In many ways, however, making a direct sequel was just about as risky as it was for them to pivot to a completely different genre with their last game, SteamWorld Heist. Why? Offhand, it's difficult to imagine where they could go further with the Dig formula, and a sequel could easily have been too much of the same with not enough new content added to justify it, and thus seem unnecessary in the end. The good news? This isn't at all the case with SteamWorld Dig 2, and -- against all odds -- Image & Form have created a fantastic sequel that improves on its predecessor in just about every way, delivering something truly memorable as a result. This time around, you play as Dorothy (aka 'Dot') -- the young, female steambot who was an NPC merchant in town in the original title -- who is on a journey to find Rusty, the original protagonist, whom has vanished following the events at the end of the first game. Dot's travels take her to a mining town called El Machino, where rumors report that a steambot wearing a red scarf has descended into the mines there. Also along for the ride this time around is new supporting character "Fen" -- a digital sprite with snarky, condescending humor who serves as a sort of guide for Dot. At the start, SteamWorld Dig 2 does feel an awful lot like the first game, especially for the first third or so. The main gameplay cycle -- digging down into the mine, recovering ore, selling it in town, and upgrading your character -- remains intact here and forms the core of the design. However, the game manages to retread similar ground while greatly improving the formula and overall experience at the same time. For example, whereas Dig 1 is entirely a vertical descent, Dig 2 features a certain amount of horizontal exploration as well. As a result, the in-game world is considerably larger and more fleshed out than the one found in the first game. Dig 2 also features a slew of nifty new enhancements Dot will acquire (ala Metroid) as she progresses that help expand her means of exploration. Some enhancements may be familiar, but others are actually different altogether from what Rusty received in the last game, which is something I appreciated. In addition to upgrades you can buy for the different items and modifications you acquire throughout the game, SteamWorld Dig 2 introduces 'Cog Mods,' in which you use various cogs you acquire to unlock new augmentations and skills that make things more efficient for Dot. For example, one mod causes enemies to be pushed back on impact when using the pickaxe to attack them while another might reduce any fall damage you receive. It's a neat way of letting players further customize their own game experience. Also making a return from the first game are individual caverns that you'll come across; each of which have a certain theme to them, where they either reward you by completing a challenging platforming exercise, or puzzles that must be solved using platforming elements. And coming off of the last game, Image & Form have really upped their game design skills with these, as they offer some of the most challenging yet rewarding gameplay in the game. Many of the caverns' designs toward the end are absolutely brilliant. Not to be outdone, it must be said that the story in SteamWorld Dig 2 is leaps and bounds above the original's. While the overall narrative of Dot searching for Rusty stays intact, there are a number of twists and turns that fans of the first game will especially appreciate. There were moments I certainly didn't see coming, and a number that really stand out due to how off the beaten path the story goes at certain points. Even the relationship between Dot and Fen evolves over the course of the game and becomes one of its best highlights toward the end. Without spoiling anything, the story is utterly fantastic and plays nearly as big a reason as the gameplay as to why I'm so ecstatic about the game. Finally, both the visuals and soundtrack are outstanding. Image & Form solidified the colorful, cartoonish look they were going for with their last game, SteamWorld Heist, and it carries over nicely into Dig 2. The graphics look especially vibrant on the Switch's handheld screen; if you own one, that's the way to play it. El Huervo of Hotline Miami 2 fame was tapped for the music this time around, and -- no hyperbole -- this is absolutely one of my favorite soundtracks of the year. Part of what makes it succeed is a lesser reliance on the typical "Steampunk/Western-sounding themes" and more of a focus on electronic and general video gamey-sounding beats. It's extremely catchy stuff, and while there a few different musical styles represented, they all work well together. There's so much more I want to say about the game yet can't because of spoilers, but suffice it to say that SteamWorld Dig 2 blew my expectations out of the water with this sequel. Dot's quest to discover what happened to Rusty leads to some fascinating and unexpected moments throughout the game, and you can really feel that the larger SteamWorld lore is being added to in significant ways with this title. Tie that all up with some of the most compelling Metroidvania gameplay, great puzzles, colorful visuals, and a serious contender for soundtrack of the year, and you've got yourself one amazing game. Go play SteamWorld Dig 2. You won't regret it. Pros + Fantastic story that will keep you guessing + Large game world to explore with plenty of secrets + Level design is greatly improved and offers a good amount of challenge + Visuals are attractive and vibrant; production value is through the roof + One of the best soundtracks of the year Cons - No placeable items (such as ladders and torches) such as the first game had. This is not a big deal in any way, but I did enjoy that option. Overall Score: 9.5 (out of 10) Fantastic Once again, Image & Form has created something so incredibly polished and special that you could make the argument it's their best game to date. They've upped the ante in almost every way with SteamWorld Dig 2, from expanding the game world, adding great new features, and tying it all up with an excellent story. Disclosure: This game was reviewed using a downloadable code provided by the publisher
  4. Just a month ago, Image & Form was teasing the next installment in the SteamWorld series, and today we now know what the game will be: SteamWorld Dig 2. Although early reports indicated that the game might have been called 'SteamWorld Quest' at first, the return to Rusty's unfinished story is a welcome one, as the first SteamWorld Dig ended on a bit of a cliffhanger. In SteamWorld Dig 2, you'll play as the young shopkeeper from the original as you explore the depths of the Earth for a long lost friend. Image & Form has confirmed the game will be coming first to Nintendo Switch this Summer and will include HD Rumble (as well as Joy-Con) functionality, though they have yet to detail the specifics on it. Stay tuned for more info as we head into GDC this week, and be sure to check out the game's announcement trailer below! Source: Press Release Are you excited for SteamWorld Dig 2?
  5. Jonathan Higgins

    Review: Axiom Verge

    Developer: Tom Happ Publisher: Tom Happ Platform: PlayStation 4 (PS Vita, PC coming at a later date) Release Date: March 31, 2015 ESRB: N/A (E10+ suggested) Official Website I“ve probably mentioned this before, but I was a SEGA Channel kid growing up. I loved my Sega Genesis, and as a result, got a service that allowed me to play fifty games a month. In exchange, though, my parents never bought me a Super Nintendo back then. There was an entire library of games I missed out on until purchasing a Wii in 2006 and immersing myself in its Virtual Console. Super Metroid was one of them. I don“t have the nostalgia that a great number of folks do for that game. And that“s why I can tell you, honestly: Super Metroid is the action-game all the others since have aspired to topple. Today, Metroid co-creator Yoshio Sakamoto“s game design philosophy is often emulated. And when a person or team is creative enough, they can spin ideas brought forth by older action games into something completely new and original. Enter Axiom Verge, created by Tom Happ, who developed, designed and composed everything in this game on his own over five years. A failed scientist named Trace dies in an accident, and awakens in an alien world. He has no idea how he got there, and...well…”reality” as a construct seems a little broken. As Trace, you explore this new world—and literally break it as well. There's certainly an equal balance of obliterating everything in your path and learning about the...forces at work that brought you there. You can tell something is amiss from the moment you face the game's first major boss. Almost everything you fight insists you“re a demon, after all. As you continue to play, the plot that started out pretty simple reveals a surprising amount of depth. Whether you“re finding hidden journals or just advancing the story, you“ll learn that Axiom Verge is a game that“s not afraid to school you a little on physics and other complexities during its many twists and turns. When describing the script of the game, "highly intelligent" comes to mind. It“s not going to drown you in scientific terms; don“t get me wrong. However, the fact that the game isn“t afraid to express complex ideas makes Trace a better character. Plus, the guy has a sharp sense of sarcasm. The story is but one of the elements that makes Axiom Verge a truly unforgettable experience. Every piece and part that makes up the game's overall presentation boasts a similar quality. The music isn“t unnecessarily complex; it“s very grounded in the 16-bit era and channels Kenji Yamamoto successfully, while coming into its own and making the game“s world that much better. The game“s sense of design feels fresh as well. I like that its visuals aren't concerned with convincing you Axiom Verge belongs on the Super Nintendo. No, this title feels right at home on PlayStation 4 (and eventually Vita and PC). Everything else that makes up the game“s design, from its sound effects (some alluding to days gone by, and some...well, kind of terrifying if I“m being honest) to its menus and maps...it“s perfection. It“s Super Metroid without actually being Super Metroid... and that“s the highest compliment I can give. The gameplay is what“s going to keep you at Axiom Verge for hours on end, though. I can“t realistically pin a completion time on this experience because there“s a Speedrun option on the title screen and I“ve spent at least sixteen hours exploring the map, getting stuck and unstuck, celebrating when I finally figured out how to reach various points, and more. That“s one element of the gameplay that I can springboard from right away: there is a keen sense of exploration. Save Points are very, very fairly placed, and you“re encouraged to go beyond where you should to get better weapons, power-ups and more. There are so many secrets, and unlike some action-games I“ve played as of late... the weapons that are well-hidden are actually worth going after! You won“t be spending the game just shooting stuff. Without spoiling anything, there are weapons that will make the small child in you shout with glee as you obliterate foes that once posed a challenge to you. Only if you work towards them, though. I haven“t even elaborated on how this game messes with actual conventions. You“ll notice parts of the game that seem glitched, then gain an item that lets you actually derezz those glitches. You can turn bubbles into platforms by glitching them out so you can ride on top of them as they float to the ceiling. You also gain the means to "glitch" Trace himself; he can teleport through walls! Further into the game, you're quite capable of phasing upwards to extend your jump, as well as downward. This combination of glitching/derezzing the world around you—as well as phasing through the world around you—is a concept that revolutionizes the typical Metroid-like fare. How many other games allow you to, quite literally, phase through the bottom of a map in places to access powerful upgrades? What about phasing through the wall to a part of the "map" that's not even recorded? Honestly? I know a game is something special when I'm actually finding myself holding back my words, so I spoil as little as possible for those interested in giving it a try. I wish I could go on forever about how well this game works, philosophically. Happ knew exactly what he wanted in his dream game, and then sought to achieve it. The enemies start out simple to fool you into thinking you“re playing the typical Metroid game, then you“ll go into the next room and have this ultra-terrifying white humanoid thing screech at you, then bolt towards you at full speed, jump at you when you try to avoid it, and more. Several of the enemy designs are natural evolutions of the typical flora and fauna of an action game. You go into a game like this with a set of expectations when it comes to foes and bosses alike. Axiom Verge messes with those expectations in ways that will leave you elated, not frustrated. Speaking of bosses—there are typically save points right before them, so you can spend some time learning their tricks. Also, there usually will be patterns that will allow you to triumph over them without scratching your head for too long. I may have played this game for far longer than most should, as I got used to things. I struggled sometimes, trying to figure out what to do next, only to have the solution right there the whole time. Even though I“ve spent sixteen hours conquering the main story when it can probably be done in a fraction of that time… I was having an absolute blast. There was always a smile on my face as the game continued to blow away my expectations, over and over again. It“s all so well-made that I was never mad at it, even when Trace (or the game itself) was being intentionally cross. Axiom Verge isn“t just a game where I slap a perfect score on it and call it a mark of mastery. I dare say it“s a new paradigm in the genre, and that teams of all shapes and sizes should follow Tom Happ“s example, like Sakamoto before him. Pros + A phenomenal presentation that isn't concerned with being stuck in the past, plus a story that messes with perceptions almost as much as the gameplay. + There's so much to do! Weapons are versatile, secrets are plentiful (and worth pursuing), and there are multiple ways to approach combat. + This is a game that's not afraid to be challenging, but it plays fair. Enemies and bosses alike are tough, but not frustrating or cheap. Cons - As with any Metroid-inspired game, you can definitely get stuck. Solutions aren't unnecessarily cruel, though. Overall Score: 10 (out of 10) Masterful Axiom Verge is the result of one man's quest to create the Metroid game he's dreamed of playing. There's no question in my mind; Tom's dream came true. Disclosure: This review is based on downloadable code provided by the publisher.
  6. Jason Clement

    Review: Xeodrifter

    Developer: Renegade Kid Publisher: Renegade Kid Platforms: 3DS eShop, PC (Steam) Release Date: December 11, 2014 ESRB: E for Everyone Note: This review is based on the 3DS version of the game When playing a game, you can usually tell early on if the developer had a lot of passion for the project or not. A game that feels soulless often is because the developer never quite believed in it enough to make it the best they could before releasing it. On the flipside, one that is brimming with passion will shine through right away. That said, I could tell Renegade Kid was the latter example while playing through Xeodrifter, their latest 2D action-platformer, and it becomes even more evident if you read up on the history of how it came about. Essentially, lead designer Jools Watsham dove into development on the game out of a passion for the Metroidvania genre (as well as science fiction in general) and what resulted in the end is a fitting tribute to a dear classic—Super Metroid. The plot in Xeodrifter is relatively simple—you play as an unnamed, spacefaring explorer whose ship is damaged by a rogue asteroid. As it turns out, the ship's warp core is damaged, and you'll have to explore four nearby planets in order to find enough material to produce a new warp core. Interestingly enough, the game leaves everything to you right at the outset; there is no hand-holding or even a tutorial (though one could easily look at the digital manual if they needed help with controls). The game assumes you are smart enough to figure things out on your own, which is largely a good thing as everyone should be able to figure out the basic controls (i.e. run, jump, shoot), though I am surprised it assumes that the player knows to press B + Down to fall through thin platforms. However, it does leave you in a precarious situation at the outset—which planet do you go to first? Given that you can go to any of the four available planets, it initially appears that the design is non-linear, though a quick tour of the playable area in each will reveal that this is not the case as there are clearly barriers set to prevent you from progressing out of order and areas that appear to be out of reach. There is a set, linear path you're intended to take, but you're supposed to find out where to start on your own. It doesn't take too long to find out which is the correct first planet to visit, but it did feel strange that it doesn't at least start you on the right path instead of having you play through trial-and-error first. In typical Metroidvania fashion, you'll explore an area of a planet, fight a mini-boss, and then gain a new ability. Then you'll go to another world, find areas that were previously inaccessible, use your new ability to proceed further, and repeat the process. In this sense, Renegade Kid does a remarkable job of replicating the Metroid formula here; it doesn't come off as tired or uninspired. There are a number of different enemies on each planet that you'll encounter, each with their own attack patterns, and there are different environments you'll need to traverse, such as water/liquid and moving over lava, or flying upwards with a rocket boost. Everything mentioned thus far is pretty standard Metroidvania fare, but the main thing that separates Xeodrifter from the rest is its inclusion of the concept of jumping between the foreground and background to progress—a mechanic that originated in previous Renegade Kid title, Mutant Mudds. In the latter mentioned title, you would traverse both planes in order to proceed through levels, but it's a bit more cleverly implemented in Xeodrifter as it actively plays a part in some action-puzzle segments. For example, you may need to speed boost across molten terrain but also jump between the foreground and background when you reach dead ends in both, or you may have to do the same while using the super jump move (similar to the Metroid series' Shinespark jump). There's only one type of boss throughout the game (with different color variants), which is slightly disappointing, but it's used in an interesting way. Each time you come across it, the creature will have learned at least one new attack method. It's similar in a way to Mega Man bosses where you need to nail down the attack patterns before you can beat them, but in Xeodrifter it actually trains the player to learn these patterns over each new encounter while at the same time making each fight more and more complex by consecutively adding more attack patterns. These boss fights are difficult, for sure, but they never feel unfair; you simply have to be on the ball with memorizing everything to succeed. One of the most charming aspects of the game by far is its 8-bit-inspired visuals, which fits the world and environments to a "T"; In many ways, it's almost like a cuter, more family-friendly Metroid, with the short chibi-esque spacefarer protagonist wearing a spacesuit that almost looks like a red hazmat suit (the boss character has a pretty adorable design as well). And while the soundtrack isn't quite as good as Mutant Mudd's, there are a few tracks that I really enjoyed; it's mostly upbeat fare, so it's in keeping with the game's lighter atmosphere. In the end, I completed the game in just over three and a half hours, which included extra backtracking to hunt down many of the remaining items, meaning the actual campaign from start to finish comes in at around two and a half to three hours. It's definitely on the shorter side, though the pacing is excellent and never leaves you feeling as if it's overstayed its welcome, making it feel like it's just the right length. That aside, Xeodrifter is a lot of fun and a Metroid surrogate worthy of your time. Pros + Great use of the Metroidvania formula, backtracking + Game feels like an ode to certain games, but is original enough to be its own thing + Mutant Mudds-esque visuals work well with the environment and atmosphere Cons - May be a bit short for some people - Use of the same boss over and over is a bit disappointing Overall Score: 8.5 (out of 10) Great Xeodrifter is the Metroid title we wanted but never got from Nintendo, and though it's a bit short, it's a rollicking good time while it lasts. Disclosure: This review is based on a 3DS eShop downloadable code provided by the publisher.
  7. Marcus Estrada

    A Valley Without Wind 2 Flutters to Steam

    Have you ever played A Valley Without Wind? The game originally hit Steam last year and, while garnering a following, wasn't a massive hit. Still, the chances of you having a copy in your Steam library are fairly high. If so, take a look through your set of games as those with the original should see the sequel sitting squarely next to it. Those who did not already own the game have unfortunately missed out on a free copy of the sequel. Regardless, today's launch of A Valley Without Wind 2 still has a handful of deals. Buying the game costs $11.25 for launch week, which is a 25% discount. However, you are also buying the original with it. This is a pretty kind gesture by the developers to get both games out for the cost of one. One big focus of the randomly generated Metroidvania and strategy experience is co-op between two to eight players. Because the game may be best enjoyed with friends, there is also a sale on a four pack (currently priced at $33.74). Even this four pack comes with the two titles, which means you're buying eight games. Take a look at A Valley Without Wind 2's launch trailer to get a feel for the indie endeavor:
  8. Developer: Platine Dispositif Publisher: Rockin“ Android Platform: PC (Desura, GamersGate, Playism) Release Date: December 25, 2012 ESRB: N/A (E10+ recommended) A download code was supplied by the publisher for this review If there“s one thing indie game fans aren“t really starved for, it is platformers. Platformers with pixel aesthetics are a dime a dozen and often find themselves having a hard time distinguishing themselves from the bunch. At first it seems like Bunny Must Die! Chelsea and the 7 Devils will fall into that trap as well, but it at least has a few things up its sleeve. That doesn“t mean it is the next Super Meat Boy, but it also doesn“t mean it lacks value either. First off, it“s not completely fair to call the game a platformer. Although the screenshots might not do well to describe it, Bunny Must Die! is a Metroidvania title at its core. You must platform around carefully, dodge pits and spikes, and dispense enemies along your way. Then you“ve got to discover new abilities which help you expand the ground your character can cover. Room after room reveals itself once you can solve its puzzles, but some aren“t as easy as others. Early on, players find themselves locked out of a certain area because a trigger to open the door only keeps it open for a second. After learning how to pause time, you realize this is what is needed to get through that door. Although it“s a really simple idea, the play/control of the game makes it a much tougher challenge. There still lie tricky jumps between the switch and the door. Even with the time pausing ability, there is still a very tough challenge ahead. As you proceed, more of these time-based challenges appear which are hindered by play. It's a shame, because aside from when you need to act quickly, the game is more entertaining. Excluding the weird finagling required for a dash jump, most of the other controls work smoothly. Jumping from platform to platform is easy to manage and failing can usually be attributed to the player themselves. Although it may seem simple, jumps tend to require some thought at times and will give a fair challenge. This is especially true of platforms which will appear and disappear if you hit them with a weapon accidentally. When it comes to weapons, you have a fair bit at your disposal. Each has its own style and use as well, which makes them more interesting. For example, the boomerang will fly out a certain distance before returning. Weapons are not stored on the character, so she can only carry one at a time. This is troublesome if you have favorite gear because there are points when specific weapons are required. When that happens, you“re just going to have to use the new one and hope to find your favorite again later. The game could benefit from the ability to carry two at once, but that is only a small negative. One thing Bunny Must Die! does especially well is make fun of its own genre. For example, at the very beginning of the game you will find you can only move left. Then, after finding an upgrade, you“re able to suddenly move left and right. That doesn“t even cover the small story, which focuses around a lead character who has both bunny and cat ears. Continuing on into stranger territory, there are bosses such as a giant cat. Why is there a giant cat trying to destroy you? Well, it has a bit to do with the story but mostly it just seems a humorous and adorable decision. There are a handful of other absurd bosses but it is best to leave them as surprises. Finally, there are the visuals which are quite nice. However, don“t just simply run into the game and play it start to finish without ever looking at the options. In there you have the ability to change the graphics from their original design to current. This is because the game originally came out earlier and has more recently seen this updated version. It adds not only a widescreen mode (4:3 had only been available before) but the aforementioned graphical updates, as well as an updated soundtrack. While the new graphics are better they do lose out in one way. The previously mentioned cat boss had originally been actual photographs of a cat and the new visuals made it simply an anime-styled drawing. There is a lot to like about Bunny Must Die!, but there are also some factors to dislike. The controls are not tight enough to make this a highly popular title. What the game does have is a sense of humor and charm about it that should nab it a following. If you“re at all interested, then check out a demo which is available for the game to see if Bunny Must Die! Chelsea and the 7 Devils is up your alley. Pros: + Entertaining bosses + Nice assortment of weapons to make use of + Ability to use either original visuals/soundtrack or new ones Cons: - Only one weapon can be held at a time - Controls aren“t as tight as should be for the genre Overall Score: 7 (out of 10) Good While it certainly is not the best in its class, Bunny Must Die! offers a humorous look at the Metroidvania genre.
  9. Number 905

    Review: Dust: An Elysian Tail

    Developer: Humble Hearts Publisher: Microsoft Game Studios Platform: 360 Release Date: Out Now ESRB: E10+ At some point in life, everyone faces a crisis of identity. Who am I and just what is it that defines me? Humble Hearts“ debut game stars a character facing that same dilemma. As the titular hero seeks his identity, the player is left wondering not only who Dust is, but what Dust is meant to be. Artistically, Dust defines itself clearly. The anthropomorphized animals have a style that can only be called "furry." I“m not fond of it, but even so, the character art is average at best. Character portraits oddly pulse to simulate breathing, but just look unsettling. The characters themselves are generic and the art is lacking in quality. The game has a couple of animated scenes, but they serve to be a reminder that the artistic vision behind Dust outreaches the artist“s capabilities. In stark contrast, the background design is easily the best part of the game. From snowy mountains, to fiery volcanoes, the art oozes style and is a treat to look at. There are also weather effects that add to the atmosphere, though they can obscure what“s happening. Thematically, the game starts strong, but fizzles out. The story opens with Dust, the amnesiac hero, being awakened by the sentient Blade of Ahrah and its guardian, Fidget. Overall, the plot concerns Dust“s identity and whether it“s his past that defines him or what he does in the moment. It“s a good theme, but it“s marred by inconsistencies in how characters view his identity. Characters waffle on their opinion and even at the end there“s no solid evidence that Dust has an answer of his own. The ending also spurns another theme present in the game to leave the possibility of a sequel. Mechanically, Dust marries RPG stat growth, hack-and-slash gameplay, and action-adventure exploration à la Metroid. The RPG aspect starts strong, letting you distribute points between health, defense, attack, and magic. This lets you start to build Dust to suit your style. However, your progression in any one stat soon gets halted and you are forced into a more even distribution, dispelling the illusion of choice. Enemies drop materials and blueprints to create equipment, with the shop selling a material after you sell one, which is a nice alternative to farming mobs for hours on end, but there are no unique items to be dropped or found. The combat is a step above most games in the genre, but not as strong as in a hack-and-slash game. The X button executes sword combos, the Y button handles dust storm attacks, and the B button uses magic. Despite that, the game boils down to two buttons, as dust storm and magic attacks are too weak on their own. Instead, you“re meant to launch a magic attack and then a dust storm, causing a powerful area attack. It“s a simple system with few combos and little variety. The enemies aren't varied enough to require you to change tactics, so once you have a preferred combo, you“re mostly set. Though the story does set up the existence of other weapons like the Blade of Ahrah, he“s the only one you get, leaving Dust hurting for variety. The right and left triggers handle dodging, which is limited by the same gauge as your magic, but the system suffers from a worse quirk. Upon coming out of a dodge, the game will always have Dust facing the center of the screen, as opposed to having him face the direction being held. This can cause problems in mobs, where rolling away from an enemy can stick you in the middle of others while facing the wrong way. There“s also a parry system, where pressing and holding X when an enemy attacks stuns them and lets you counter. The window for parries is wide, making the move easy to perform when needed. Even the exploration aspect falls flat. While other games in the genre have hidden character upgrades, the treasures to find in Dust are largely money and generic items, with a few minor health increases. The exploration is fun enough, but ultimately futile unless you“re obsessed with map completion. The platforming options are basic, with the story upgrades you get just offering access to new areas and not a new way to explore old areas. Some may be relieved to hear that despite the genres Dust combines, it's an easy game. Most enemies can be taken out with simple combos and parries, and even the bosses can fall into simple AI loops. There are options to allow auto-combos and healing. The game is also generous with save points. While the areas may be larger than usual, you“re never more than a few squares away from a save point. On higher difficulties, the worst you“ll have to deal with is managing money and healing items. Even the challenge rooms in the game are just simple exercises in memorization with little actual combat. That doesn“t meant there aren“t some unevenly difficult sections though. There a couple of areas that feature randomly falling objects that do very high damage, and the final area features an army of allies that obscure the enemy, making the area harder than it needs to be. Technically, the game is flawed. I had issues with stat bonuses not being applied correctly when equipping two of the same item and issues with jumping out of dodges. Drops in frame rate are not uncommon and can happen even in less visually complex areas. I also had the game crash on a few occasions while transitioning to new areas. It“s not unplayable, but it doesn“t live up to the quality one would expect from a Summer of Arcade title. As a character, Dust struggles to understand who he is and what defines him. As a game, Dust: An Elysian Tail faces the same conflict. Combining RPG character progression, hack-and-slash gameplay, and Metroid inspired exploration, Dust reaches an equilibrium where no one element stands out. It doesn“t manage to be remarkably fun, challenging, or moving, but also fails to offend. At the end of the day, Dust simply is. Pros: + Beautiful scenery + Forgiving difficulty Cons: - Low quality character art - Combines many genres, excels at none - Technical issues Overall Score: 5.5 (out of 10) Average Dust: An Elysian Tail has big ambitions, but doesn“t live up to its vision. It“s not a bad game, but it doesn“t do anything special.