Upplagd: 27 november
When I first found out about the crew of Dustforce and their follies in amateur game development, I became very anxious to play this game and to support them. However, playing the actual game has shown me that good intentions do not necessarily translate into a full experience.
I think that Dustforce's biggest problem is how it defines 'skill' and 'difficulty'. Dustforce has very little in the way of rewarding a player, only giving out keys which are used to unlock a handful of harder levels. When most of the game's content is unlocked from the start, the player's only remaining motivation is the scoreboard. When one takes a cursory glance at said scoreboard, one notices very long strings of players who complete the level in virtually the same amount of time, give or take a fraction of a second. Not only that, but the requirement of sweeping all dust in a level for a perfect score causes every level, regardless of size, to develop a 'one true path' that sacrifices exploration and player experience for the sake of a higher score. This makes the game extremely tedious to play, boiling itself down to memorization of a level and restarting the level at the slightest mishap.
I'm aware that the game is designed with the speedrunning community in mind, but one reason as to why speedrunning is so highly valued in those circles is the fact that speedrunners interpret a game in a different manner than the developers, and play it at a much faster speed than intended, entertaining others who are only familiar with a more down-to-earth means of beating the game. Meanwhile, Dustforce's design mentality is rigidly geared towards beating the levels as fast as possible, causing the practice of speedrunning to be rendered pedestrian, and therefore moot.
Aside from the core gameplay, which is admittedly quite interesting despite its flawed implementation, there is honestly not much else to say about Dustforce. I did like how the game's various sprites were traditionally animated, but the artstyle itself is so minimalistic that the subtlties and quirks that normally come with such techniques are lost. The music on its own is good, but not exciting or emotional, causing it to simply blend into the background, when music should enhance the player's experience by being memorable or unique.
When looking at Hitbox Team's upcoming Spire, I'm glad to see that the team is taking more consideration to the skill of the individual and motivating the individual to get better in order to progress further. Hopefully, it'll make for a more rewarding and engaging experience than Dustforce, which, in my opinion, feels like more of a chore than actual dusting.