Dust: An Elysian Tale starts off with a standard RPG cliche: The main character, Dust, wakes up with no memory of who they are, where they are, or how they got there. Luckily, Dust and you are acclimated almost immediately. The pace picks up quickly as you are whisked through a dangerous world with a mysterious story to tell. The overall experience is complemented by fun characters and rewarding gameplay, and as a whole, Dust: An Elysian Tale is still very, very easy to recommend six years after its initial release.
The setting, story, and characters are the best part of Dust: An Elysian Tale. The tale begins with par-for-the-course RPG fare–evil forces are growing restless, the main character wields a legendary sword and has amnesia, there is a mysterious empire in play, etcetera–but quickly, Dust: An Elysian Tale hits its own stride. Charming dialogue is abundant. Characters are fleshed out and even NPCs are a joy to interact with. Despite its cliches, the story is a great experience through and through, with enough of its own unique situations and intrigue to keep the player invested.
Combat is quick and exciting. Dust is a 2D action RPG with enemy encounters taking place throughout the game world. Packs of monsters await down every path, over each hill, and around each corner. You will have to utilize different combos, dashes, and jumps to carefully navigate screens full of attacking bad guys, sometimes up to a dozen at a time. Fighting is reasonably tough, but never feels unfair, and when you really get the hang of it, it feels excellent.
Another great feature is the upgrade system: Large stat boosts are addictive to earn, and every increase in your attack, defense, or health is a joy to see in action. Enemies will fall in fewer strokes, or your greater resilience and health will render once-lethal attacks futile. Grinding through swarms of enemies sometimes got repetitive, but knowing that I was always nearing another upgrade kept me going.
Quick words of accolade need to be given to the art and soundtrack. Character portraits look great, the animation is very well done, and the setting is a joy to explore thanks to an expansive array of well-designed environments punctuated with relaxing melodies.
Unfortunately, Dust: An Elysian Tale is occasionally confusing or repetitive. The aforementioned enemy hordes become a minor nuisance at times, and I sometimes found myself just trying to dash past them. Other times, the maps will be confusing to navigate altogether–more than once in my playthrough, I found myself wandering around for an extended period of time lacking rhyme or reason.
The Dust Switch port is great. Now that the sound bug present at launch has been taken care of, the game runs smoothly all around. Thanks to the plethora of side quests and shorter objectives, the game can be picked up for short bursts of play, meaning it fits perfectly on a portable, though it is still, of course, an engrossing experience that can eat up hours of your time. The game itself is a few years old now, but it holds up perfectly fine. If you have not played Dust: An Elysian Tale yet, or if you just feel like revisiting it, the Switch port is a perfect destination.