Posted: June 25
I obtained Dustforce as part of a Humble Bundle, and it turned out to be one of the weakest entries of the set. Having enjoyed Super Meat Boy, I thought taking on another challenging speed/flow platformer would be good fun, but Dustforce didn't measure up.
In premise, Dustforce seemed like a lot of fun. Ninja janitors! Fighting-game style uppercuts and kicks, used to navigate hazards and literally clean house! Some lovely sprite work and a fantastic soundtrack enticed me to give it a go.
Unfortunately, Dustforce turns out to be one of those games where only the hardest of the hard core need apply, and no lesser player has any hope of wringing some entertainment from this sharp, unforgiving stone of a title. Unless you master the moves immediately (perhaps by some years' experience playing Street Fighter on the competitive scene?), you will fail constantly, progressing to the end of even the earliest levels only by determination and brute repetition. That in and of itself is not irredeemable--that's part and parcel of SMB's shtick, after all. However, the insult to injury is that speedrunning is mandatory. You cannot barely squeak out a level completion and advance in the game; you *must* achieve a ranking score in speed and thoroughness in order to earn keys to open additional levels. If you don't, well, enjoy replaying the first world a lot, because that's all you'll get to see.
There is something to be said for defying the predominant game design pattern of "if you just play long enough, no matter your skill, you will win." And no doubt a truly elite button-pusher would revel in it here. But if you don't consider yourself such a chest-thumping master, you would do well to give this game a pass.