Dustforce Review (PC)

Every once in awhile I stumble across a game which I have no expectations or even prior knowledge of but still manages to draw me in regardless. This game is titled ‘Dustforce’. Colour me impressed!

Dustforce gives you a first hand look at what it must be like to be a janitor charged with cleaning up a dirty town, first hand. Albeit in a water coloured, animated, only oh-so fantastic reality. Okay, sure it’s a game, but it’s a heck of a lot more interesting then turning on your mother’s dust buster and cleaning cobwebs from the attic.

Wrapped up in the basic premise, of cleaning a world of dust, is a seriously challenging 2D platformer. Dustforce has you move about an overworld of sorts with thematic areas in which you can enter doorways, thus beginning levels (leading to thematic based spills, dust, dirt and enemies). Now the levels themselves, in the earlier stages, aren’t so difficult to get through. But you should consider your first play-through, on any given level, training. Once you have completed a level you will then be graded on ‘finesse’ and ‘completion’. Achieving perfect grades will reward you with a key, allowing you to access (locked) more challenging levels.

Achieving this perfection doesn’t seem to be quite so simple, at least not for me, as you will use those earlier stages to become more familiar with the various abilities that your chosen hero-janitor has at their disposal. You can choose from one out of four different character, each with strengths and weaknesses (Think Super Mario Brothers 2 character selection for an ancient reference – showing my age), but altogether they share basic abilities. While the abilities themselves (i.e. jump, double jump, dash, melee etc..) are basic in essence, the combination and skill to master these in order maintain a mostly fast and efficient clean-up job (thus giving you a better end-level grading) is not. But the more you play through the levels and attempt to familiarise yourself with these abilities the better the flow of your play-through will go. It is quite a great feeling to charge along and hit all the right spots along the way finishing the final enemy with a well placed special attack (zipping you all over the screen in a cleaning frenzy). If you’re just missing out on achieving that perfect grade, chances are someone has done so before you and the great thing about Dustforce is that it allows you to watch replays of all the top level clears to give you a better idea of how you can improve on your grades.

Stylistically, the game is quite beautiful at employing a watercolour art choice that reminded me of Another World at the same time. It’s simple to look at without clamouring your screen up with a lot of confusing backgrounds and interference on the foreground.

Music-wise Hitbox¬†have ticked another box for me. It’s quite hilarious that the game can be very difficult and challenging, yet there is a nice mellow sounding track in the background. It has that 8-bit charm of a NES title with the sophistication of today’s tools.¬†Also noteworthy is that there is an included multi-player mode for you to explore with friends and while it wasn’t active at the time I reviewed the game, a level editor looks set to launch at some point in the near future.

Dustforce is a credit to Hitbox. It provides a healthy stack of levels with plenty of replayability for any platformer fan, and at a pricepoint of $9.99 AUD (via Steam) it should prove to be a worthwhile purchase for anyone looking for a challenge. To see the game in action click on the trailer below.

Rating: ★★★★★★★★★☆

About the Author

Dan co-hosts the Gameolio Podcast and handles the administration of the website. Occasional poster and frequent deleter with a strange love of the colour green.