Dustforce Review

Dustforce (Available only on PC and Mac)
ESRB Rating: This game has not been rated by the ESRB
Number of Players: 1 to 4 (Local only)
Genre: Platformer
Publisher: Hitbox Team
Developer: Hitbox Team
Release Date: January 17th, 2012
Note: Available on Steam for $9.99

Parent Talk: Given Dustforce wasn’t rated by the ESRB, what should you do? Panic, run for the hills, or allow your kids to be subjected to one of the goriest and vulgar games ever created??? Kidding, I’m just kidding. The truth is this was an indie release, and while it may not have been rated by the ESRB, it’s perfectly harmless for children of all ages. You play as one of four ninja janitors who’s sole job is to clean up the world. By using your acrobatic skills you zip through each of the game’s many levels increasing your score for bragging rights on the global leaderboards. This is the perfect time-killer for your children, or if you’re a hardcore gamer, you’ll find yourself playing “just one more level” before heading off to bed.

Plays Like: At its heart Dustforce is a platformer, so in that sense it plays similar to something like Super Mario Bros. albeit instead of jumping on Goombas, you’re taking out evil dust tumbleweeds. There are no coins to collect, but a multiplier that continues to climb as you venture forth cleaning, and dodging pits, spikes, and other hazards you stumble upon. For one reason or another Dustforce also reminds me of ‘Splosion Man, and I think that’s because both are ultra colorful and unique.

Review Basis: Played through all the different areas, although found out I really suck at the game so couldn’t finish all the stages with an S ranking.

Dustforce is a really unique platformer where you simply progress through levels trying to clean up as much dirt and grime as possible, all while moving as fast as you can and avoiding anything that could cause you bodily harm. Sounds simple, and in the beginning it is, but very quickly becomes extremely difficult. Therein lies the fun.

The Great:

This is one of those games that’s super easy to play, but virtually impossible to master. If you love indie games or arcade-style games in general, this is one you most certainly should check out. For $10 you can’t go wrong.

The Good:

+ It’s so hard, it’s punishing…in a good way. I love seeing that I suck at a game, because it inspires me to get better. Constantly coming in at rank 12,000 means I’ll be coming back to Dustforce for a very long time to come.

+ Variety is the spice of life. Each stage feels completely different than the last. The key to success is learning the stages inside and out, where shortcuts are and how to clear out the dust as quickly as possible.

+ Replays rule, and show you that you suck…big time. You’re allowed to watch the top ten players of any given stage, which not only shows you just how bad you are, but also gives you ideas on how to improve your game.

+ Fantastic audio visual presentation. The graphics are super stylized and look clean and fresh. The audio is upbeat and features really catchy tunes. Another plus is the system requirements. You only need a 2.0GHz Core 2 Duo, and a gigabyte of RAM. That’s not asking for much in today’s world of super high-end graphics.

The So-So:

+/- I’m going to be ultra honest with all of you, while this was designed as a computer game, it begs to be played with a controller. The default keyboard layout is nowhere near as responsive or comfortable as a console-controller is. I would love to see Dustforce released on Xbox Live Arcade, or the PlayStation Network as I’m sure it would be a huge hit. If you’re planning on downloading this one on Steam, do yourself a favor and pick up an Xbox 360 PC controller. Trust me, you won’t regret it.

The Bad:

– One of the only negative comments I can make about the game is the lack of information provided in how to setup a local multiplayer game, how to unlock new stages, or even how the four playable characters differ from one another. While I hate being hand-walked through each and every detail, sometimes it’s nice to be told basic information.

– Local multiplayer only?! Yeah you read that right, you have to gather up to four real-life friends and play on your PC. When’s the last time you did that? Oh right, never. Sadly I wasn’t able to test multiplayer because I honestly don’t have four friends that would care to play a local multiplayer game at my house.

The Ugly:

Dust, dust everywhere! If you’re asthmatic, this game will be your worst nightmare (that was intended to be a joke. Yeah, sorry, I know it was pretty lame).

The Lowdown:

For $9.99 on Steam, available for both PC and Mac, Dustforce is a fantastic arcade game that I hope more people get into. I adore the art-style, love the music and think the gameplay is super addictive. If you’re looking for something different to play on your PC, and you have a controller, this one’s a clear winner.

Final Score: 8.5/10