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Malik (8/27/12)

Over the last week, I was looking at videos and the like for Dust. Dust is one of the latest releases for the 360 Live Arcade. I was drawn in to the game once I saw the visuals. I love the idea of playing games that look fluid and fun despite having a very well displayed artistic feel. Dust has this with what looked like a Metroid/Castlevania game play style combined with art that looks like it was lifted from a hand drawn animated movie. Well, that was almost enough to get me to open my wallet. When I remembered having a $50 points card on my Live account and having used only a couple bucks from it (it was a reward for taking part in a Microsoft Usability Study)...well, I bought Dust.

I was expecting a fun game. What I got was definitely fun, but goes so much further. It is a Castlevania or Metroid style game in all ways, with quests thrown in. You buy and acquire new items, new equipment, you have smaller subsections of a large world to explore, and you have a character that goes through the natural progression of a Metroid game in which you don't have many moves to start, but learn new tricks as the game progresses. All of this makes for a great experience, but also it gives a reason for you to constantly reinvestigate old maps as you open new abilities and gain new keys to forgotten doors.

To put it simple, Dust is one of the most standout games I've seen in a long time. I have been a fan of the blending of RPG and Metroid since I first saw an import video of Castlevania: Symphony of the Night on a Playstation Underground demo disk. This game doesn't offer much that is new (I mean you don't even have the chance for a new weapon), but it does everything correctly. You have a combo system that rewards you with bonus experience for making a high combo without being hit. You also have a magic system that offers a fun chance to see if you can exploit the combo system...before you realize it's not an exploit and it's actually a chance to lose by focusing more on small damage hits than on sword swipes that do real damage. You also can then use the experience to level in your own way by selecting if you upgrade HP, attack, defense, or special attack at each level.

I think the main thing that can say how good Dust is is one simple fact; I put down the end of Dawn Guard for Darksiders 2. I put down Darksiders 2 for Dust. So, vicariously, Dust is stopping me from finishing Skyrim. Now that says something when I've dropped more than 155 hours in Skyrim and never felt bored.


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