Games are usually an escape from life and so often have strange and unusual premises but you don’t find a whole lot that have you play a janitor armed with your push broom. Even fewer have you play as part of a janitorial team working to clean up the forests of leaves. That however is the premise of Dustforce and in it’s format the theme works just fine.
Dustforce is a 2D platform aerobatic action game in which players have to sweep, swipe and jump their way through multiple levels cleaning up leaves while avoiding thorns, destroying leaf clumps and saving woodland creatures from leaf possession. I honestly didn’t fully understand the last part of leaf possession but it did make for more interesting play as you cook through the levels trying to keep combos going, make smooth jumps and avoiding death by thorning or being beaten to death by poor possessed possums. You move on to cleaning leaves, dust and grime from other locations but with similar play. You get 4 characters to choose from though they don’t appear to have any real difference between them except appearance.
The graphics are cartoonish and simple but also nicely stylized and works really well for the 2D platform game style and the music is calming and a little old school sounding trying to offset the often hectic action. There are over 50 levels in the game, most of them only unlockable by getting an extremely high score on one of the lower levels. This results in usually having to play a level a few times to beat the necessary score even if you complete it so the game does require patience and an understanding that a learning curve is necessary for working your way up through the game and though the levels will become more challenging you will still be working your way up using the same moves and weapons just perfecting them more and more. That kind of repetitive gameplay may not be for everyone, I actually had more than one player try this game and someone who was good at it got bored and someone who had a hard time got frustrated.
Luckily if this winds up becoming a problem you can invite a friend to play with you and try multiplayer mode where one team makes a mess and one team tries to clean it up and you see who winds up having the mad mess or crazy clean up skills. This could be good for a pretty decent amount of playtime since some gamers get so competitive. There is also a level designer that is currently a work in progress and that too might make the game more interesting, especially if friends wind up challenging each other to their own devious level designs.
Dustforce! is a solid example of a 2D platform aerobatic action game designed with challenges that are necessary to overcome before level advancement, completion is not enough. This game will probably appeal mostly to the hardcore platform player due to the level of excellence required to advance and the skill at the jumping, wall hopping, and broom swiping that has to all be timed perfectly to pass obstacles and if they aren’t passed on the first try you won’t be able to advance past the level. The music which can be calming and has subtle differences in the scores may also become a bit repetitive so playing some tunes in the background might be a good plan. If it genre which if you love, like might not be strong enough, at $9.99 it is a bargain with hours of challenging game play. Dustforce will be available for download on Steam starting January 17th.
(Correction: It was originally-stated that there was a demo available for this title. That is incorrect. The game is not out until Jan. 17th)
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