The new age of indie gaming standouts has somewhat eclipsed the AAA games that gamers are so familiar with. Small and medium-seized development teams take risks and create the type of games that we never knew we wanted, but are glad to have them once they're here.
Hitbox Team, in conjunction with Capcom, has crafted the type of game that adheres to the above mantra of indie gaming. It combines the finest elements of old school platforming gameplay and an 8-bit chiptune soundtrack with a wonderful mix of modern gaming fluidity and polish. That game is Dustforce.
Dustforce tasks you with sweeping and sucking up all the dusty residue that lies around a bunch of different locales. You would think a game that focuses on sweeping and vacuuming would be a boring venture. You’d be right if it weren’t for the cool ways that this platformer turns the concept into an addictive, speed running adventure. You get to take control of four different janitors, each with their own cleaning utensil of choice. It’s easy to notice right away how cool the art design is for the characters and environments you’ll be running through. Each janitor comes with their own look, which focuses on a colorful aesthetic that showcases the little things the most. It’s easy to discern who’s who by their wonderful color palettes and discerning qualities.
The janitors you’ll be using all come with their own special abilities that lend themselves well to any stage situation. Some are faster and flashier than others, while the more older members of the group get by on their weapons of choice more than their movement. The gameplay itself can be likened to Strider. You move fast through a wide open locale as you try to clear up as much dust as possible with as much finesse and speed as you can, This is far from a cakewalk though, since only the most hardcore platforming game fans will get farther than most.
Hopping around, wall jumping, using your broom/vacuum to vanquish enemies and speed run through stages are the overall mechanics that make up this title. Everything feels and moves at a smooth and quick pace, plus the vibrant graphics make all the fast movement on the screen look even better. The beautiful levels are met with some catchy chiptune music that will certainly become stuck in your head. There’s so much to do in this game, thanks to the large selection of stages, tight multiplayer modes and future promises of added content.
Dustforce is old school to a fault, though. It’s difficulty may be too much to bear for those who didn’t grow up playing these types of games back in the day. The opening stages are not too brutal, but the later ones will definitely test your twitch skills and your fast moving thumbs. Achieving a perfect S rating requires some sweeping masterwork, plus you’ll have to get combined better ratings to nab those other stage keys. It takes some dedicated platforming skills to really see everything that Dustforce has to offer. Hardcore gamers and speed runners, this is the game for you. As for everyone else, beware!
Dustforce is an awesome nod to the platforming games of yesteryear. The out-there concept works perfectly due to the speedy gameplay, awesome visuals and enjoyable soundtrack. Beating the best of this platformer is a large task that some may not be able to overcome. With patience and practice, you’ll come to appreciate Dustforce past its opening stages.
Images: Hitbox Team, Capcom