The levels in Dustforce aren’t long or particularly difficult, but my progress has been really slow. This is due in no small part to the results screen, where, if you’re like me, you’ll likely spend an inordinate amount of time checking your ranking, checking your friends’ rankings, watching replays, and formulating plans to improve your run. Case in point, I probably replayed the tutorial level a dozen times alone before I was satisfied enough to move on to the rest of the game.
I’ve seen Dustforce compared to Super Meat Boy as an “ultra-hard platformer”, but the point of both games seems different. The challenge of Dustforce isn’t so much to beat each level as it is to beat them well, achieving S ranks in both completion (debris cleared) and finesse (number of deaths), and doing it as quickly as possible. This point is driven home by the climbing and dashing mechanics that are based around speed, and the fact that enemies end combos and slow you down, but never outright kill you. You also get keys for SS ranking that will unlock more levels in the hub world.
The controls feel great (gamepads supported) and the levels are designed well around the game’s purpose and your character’s moveset. Watch the replays of the highest scorers and you’ll see some amazing precision, but even with just a little practice you TOO can feel like a ninja! The graphics, which are stylistically too close to free Flash web games for my taste, nonetheless animate extremely fluidly and support the acrobatics nicely. No complaints about Terence Lee’s soothing soundtrack, though, especially “9-bit Expedition”, the song that plays during the tutorial.
Aside from a few interface issues I ran across, I’m having a wonderful time with Dustforce. It’s a great release to ring in the new year with.
TIGdb: Entry for Dustforce