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DUSTFORCE

Developer: Hitbox

Release: January 2012

Genre: Platformer

Format: PC, MAC (Steam)

Discovering great indie games is something I love doing. ‘Splosion Man, Bastion, and many more, have graced these pages and received praise for being quirky, original, and completely independently developed. This week, I was lucky enough to have a smash hit land on my desk, my very untidy desk. Perhaps I should get one of the Dustforce team to come clean it in style. Do you follow me? No? Continue reading.

The concept of Dustforce is basically what would happen if trainee ninjas from some sort of Ninja Academy didn’t make the grade, so the only way they could make ends meet is by becoming cleaners; very agile and super-fast cleaners. The premise is simple, there’s a hub world filled with doors, some locked, some not. You pick one of the four available cleaners, and control them through various levels behind the unlocked doors. The game plays out like a side-scrolling platformer, with the characters having a skill set similar to Faith from Mirror’s Edge. You can run up walls, double jump, pull stylish moves with your cleaning tool, and link together combos to get from one area to another. The controls require quite adept finger dexterity, and even once you’ve warmed you digits up, it takes some time to get used to. Each level has pathways and animals that need cleaning/sweeping, and it’s up to the members of Dustforce to do this.

The presentation is phenomenal, the art design is beautiful, and the characters move flowingly through the stylish levels. When you unleash fighting moves, the screen shakes, and the strikes leave behind streak marks. And also, when you complete a level by cleaning the last remaining creatures, everything goes into slow motion, Matrix-style bitches! The music is something else entirely, and has certainly caught my attention for review in the future. It’s somewhat reminiscent of chip tune music, while remaining unobtrusive and extremely melancholic.

Another very cool feature is the playback option. When you complete a level, you’re shown the leader boards to see who holds the best times for each level. In the hub world, there’s a log book where you can watch back your attempts at each level, as well as anyone else in the world that has played the level. That’s right, so if you’re stuck on a level, you can watch someone else play through it first and get some pretty valuable advice.

If Dustforce’s multiplayer was online, then this indie game would be an insanely perfect title well worth its price tag. But don’t let that discourage you; it is an extremely exciting, infuriating, addictive, and stylish videogame. I highly recommend this game, along with a gamepad to play it with, unless you’re some sort of keyboard ninja, sweeping your fingers across the keys like a member of Dustforce. This game is bang tidy.

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