Kyle E. Miller
E3 2012: Dust: An Elysian Tail
A future Xbox Live offering impresses.
06.06.12 - 6:04 PM

During my time with Dust: An Elysian Tail, my character spent more time in the air than on the ground. The titular anthropomorphic fox has the astounding ability to kick enemies into the air and keep them there with a fusillade of frenzied strikes until only a corpse comes back to the ground. A corpse... or two. Or seven. Fragile undead-like foes shatter and prickly balloon creatures burst under Dust's tight controls and fast-paced combat.

The screen is often in chaos, with combo numbers flashing, stat bars shrinking or growing, monsters exploding into items, and gorgeous combat effects unfolding from Dust the fox. The action is nearly non-stop, and I constantly found new ways to use Dust's abilities. I sometimes felt enormously powerful, but the game wasn't without challenging segments. Surprisingly, the complexity comes from just two or three buttons, making for gameplay that's easy to use, but difficult to master.

Although the beautiful action makes me want to see the full game more than anything else does, every other facet only serves to enhance my anticipation. Although story details are scarce, the characters have personality, and Dust has a couple of companions (a floating Pokémon-looking creature and a talking sword), sure to be sources of banter that breaks up the action. The graphics are alluring, with impeccably fluid animation, and the art design combines the cute and the grotesque to great effect.

The game even has minor exploration aspects normally not associated with side-scrollers, such as branching paths and breakable walls, some of which are beyond reach until certain abilities are upgraded. Treasure often lays at the end of such paths, and Dust can equip items and level up, making this a full RPG. To make RPG fans even more at home, unlocking treasure chests requires a brief mini-game before the player can claim the spoils.

Dust combines fantastic aesthetics with even better gameplay in the addictive and satisfying trappings of an RPG. Although a concrete release date and price haven't been announced, look for Dust: An Elysian Tail this summer on Xbox Live. This one is something special.