Capcom is no stranger to platforming action games, having given us numerous entries in such series as "Strider," "Mega Man" and "Ghosts 'n Goblins." "Dustforce," a title that first got its start as a PC release, has a lot in common with those games, running on a formula that fans of the platforming genre will find addictive and well worth coming back to. But the question remains - can a game that centers on custodians as its main heroes really have that kind of staying power? The truth is, surprisingly, yes.
That's because Dustforce isn't your typical platformer. Unlike other games, where you simply go from point A to point B, this one has a unique approach to its objective. Sure, you can still get to the main goal in a stage, like cleaning up innocent folks surrounded by evil dust (hey, dust can be evil, y'know), but there's so much you can do along the way to bump up your overall rating for said stage.
Over the course of your journey, you'll find floors, ceilings and walls lined with dust, which you can clear away by simply going over it, or swinging away at it with your broom. At first, it may take a while to get into the rhythm that Capcom puts into the game, mainly because of the control scheme. However, experienced players should have no problem locating it, and going on stylish, dust-clearing runs that makes dedicated parkour runners look like busboys. Seriously, once you get a custodian going on a good run, they kick all sorts of dusty butt.
That said, the control scheme does take some getting used to. In order to maneuver up walls and occasionally ceilings, players have to move the analog stick about to keep momentum going. Sometimes it can be tricky, and, as a result, they'll come sliding back down the walls in failure. However, Dustforce is a great "live and learn" experience, where the more it's played, the easier it becomes to adapt to its controls. It's good fun putting techniques together.
Less experienced players can also learn a thing or two from replays, as several pros have already pieced together some epic runs that are well worth watching. There's a thing or two (or ten!) to be learned here, so take the time to see what they have to offer.
In addition to 56 challenging single-player levels, Dustforce also has an interesting multiplayer component, where up to four players can take part in dust-offs to see who can perform the best in each area. While they can be a little chaotic depending who custodians are matched up against, it's cool to see just how fun - and competitive - the sessions can become. Will it replace Super Smash Bros. anytime soon, if ever? Hardly. But it's a fun alternative.
Best of all, the game is backed by a pretty solid presentation, including a retro-style music score put together by Lifeformed, and visuals that represent Capcom's 16-bit heyday, but with a little bit of pizzazz. The level designs really bring out the best in players as well, and will even challenge them in certain situations - like trying to climb up a solid, super-high wall with a combination of free-running and double jumping. Good luck.
While its difficulty and quirky gameplay mechanisms may be a bit for some to take in, Dustforce is a nice shout-out to Capcom's golden age of gaming, when platforming games reigned and new entries, such as Demon's Crest and Bionic Commando Rearmed, were welcomed with open arms. It's hard to tell if Dustforce will be a classic along those lines in a few years, but judging by its unique approach and entertaining dust-sweeping antics, it sure deserves a shot.
Review: 8 out of 10
Code provided by Capcom for review purposes. PlayStation 3 version reviewed.
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