It’s a rare thing to be able to review a game before ‘finishing’ it but I think in the case of Dustforce, finishing it would take me the better part of the rest of my life. We’re talking about a game where there is literally no plot, and no continuity, but whose experience, like Offspring Fling is defined by doing. It’s a rare kind of videogame, in the same mould as many classic games that predate story.
Dustforce is a beautiful, excellently animated, fast and fun 2D-parkour platform game with a no-impact focus, a low difficulty curve, a very forgiving level design, and, of course, it’s also amazingly hard.
In the same way that Kirby’s Epic Yarn builds itself around being almost impossible to fail, Dustforce is the kind of game where finishing a level is not all that difficult, with infinite lives and retries. The game can judge you, though; it judges you on how well you finished a level… which creates an incentive to finish the games well.
When you’re describing games, there’s this word that comes up that’s almost cliche these days: fluid. When you think of that word, I want you to imagine a semi-thick fluid, something with a bit of coagulation, as it slides from place to place in a container. You tilt the container, it collapses to the side with barely any moment of coordination. The fluid doesn’t think about it, there’s no double-checking, it just goes. That’s what Dustforce is about at its best, and each level is a mental puzzle not so much of execution – though fucking hell, the execution is important, too! – but rather in seeing the line of flow that you are to guide your tiny little janitor through, and tilting the level – I mean, planning your route – accordingly.
Dustforce deserves special mention for having such an excellent, coherent aesthetic. The visuals, the minimalist UI, the animations and the style of character design all fit together to feel whole. It is so good, it’s so whole I can’t even think of a good way to describe it. The footage in the cutscenes and introductions looks like the actual gameplay, which looks graceful and elegant and stylish and you know what, just look at it. It isn’t like Dishonored where the things that look pretty are different to things that don’t.
It is a beautiful game.
There are games that are all about exploring large, deep concepts and there are games that are about doing something excellently. Dustforce is a non-violent game that offers you an opportunity to develop a skillset, then see just how well you use those skills. It’s a game you can get lost in, and it’s a game you can play only a level at a time, too.
Buy it if:
- You enjoy precision-based platformers and a sense of flow.
- You want to experience a truly lovely visual style.
- You’re looking for a non-violent kid-friendly game which will still provide challenge without presenting dark or mean themes.
Avoid it if:
- You are a perfectionist without much time to spare.
- You’re hoping to make ‘cleaning your room’ seem fun.