Classically Inspired | Dust: An Elysian Tail Review

Authors Note: The Developer has released the aforementioned patch & fixed some of the issues that I had. This makes me really happy because as you read the review, you’ll see that I loved it. I’ll be leaving it in its original form so feel free to read it; just know that it’s a bit outdated now. Darn you Dean Dodrill! Oh, I’ll be updating the sound score as well!

Now on to the Review…

I’m absolutely over-the-moon with the amount of support that Nintendo Switch has been getting. It’s a far cry from Wii U and despite it being the prototype for our portable messiah, it ultimately failed. Though as of lately, I’ve been reading a lot of negativity regarding the number of ports that are coming to the system. I understand it but I feel like our portable little friend is able to breathe new life into games that may be several years old. Take Diablo 3; I played it to death – no pun intended – on the PlayStation 3, own it on its bigger brother, and will again on the little console that could. Believe it or not, an even older title by a few months has re-released on Nintendo Switch and I’ve got to admit, It’s a bloody good time.

Dust: An Elysian Tail is an Action-Rpg with elements of Metroidvania exploration sprinkled in for good measure. Expect to be back-tracking to locales in order to access areas previously unreachable thanks to newly acquired abilities. To be honest, I’d probably describe this title as an amalgamation of inspirations that have been blended into a smoothie of brilliance. The story takes place in the world of Falana, home to anthropomorphic creatures. You play as Dust, a warrior that’s struggling to remember anything about his past. In his possession, he has a sentient sword called the Blade of Ahrah. He’s also accompanied by the Guardian of it, Fidget. Just…don’t call her a flying cat, trust me.

There’s really no room to debate that the graphical presentation of Dust: An Elysian Tail is nothing short of spectacular. Because of its visuals, I was blasted to those carefree days of watching Saturday Morning cartoons and eating Cheetos. The animations had no sign of stuttering & the mouths were always in-sync with the voice. Hell, even with combat at break-neck speed, the Nintendo Switch never felt like it had any trouble maintaining frame-rate. During dialogue sections, Dean Dodrill opted to implement full-body models of whoever spoke. Now, I’m European and we’re well-known to speak with our hands. It’s a quality that’s annoying to some, a quality that’s used in this title effectively. I felt that this bit of detail helped give the overall world a sense of realism. Also, those bunnies at the beginning are adorable; don’t @ me, I’ll fight you.

If you were to ask me what a common trait between RPG’s are, I’d answer the fantastic music. So, when you set off to create a game with the Role-Playing moniker, you’ve already set expectations. Some will crumble to the pressure but suffice it to say, Dust: An Elysian Tail stood tall and its OST is amazing. From the violins, pianos, to the trumpets, you could tell the amount of effort that went by how well it meshes together. I especially enjoyed that in villages, the melody volume would lower & allowed the sounds of nature to shine through. I did, however, encounter an issue with the audio mixing that relegated me to reading. Whenever a scene took place by water, I found it overpowering & it, no pun intended, drowned the voices out.

I wish I could say that was the only issue with audio but I did find another glitch, albeit a minor one. With its action game roots, Dust: An Elysian Tail will be fast & furious with numbers filling the screen. One ability that you have is called Dust Storm & it allows you to manipulate projectiles that Fidget shoots.  In doing so, it increases the range of that attack and as you may have guessed, it’s a perfect tactic for large groups of enemies. Now, contact is usually signified by some sort of sound effect but you’ll discover that after a while, the game just gave up. The sound will become choppy & sporadic. While the issue does mend itself after a few moments, it’s odd that the Nintendo Switch can handle high-octane action but sound, well, that’s pushing it I guess.

I briefly touched on, Dust: An Elysian Tail is fully voiced & that can get pretty expensive, especially if you’re an indie developer. Fortunately, it all paid off in spades as every character had charm, humor, & excellent delivery. Their personalities were all distinct, even from a writing stand-point, you could tell the written work was done so unique mannerisms stayed intact. It also didn’t always take itself too seriously as I did find myself grinning ear-to-ear quite often. One instance was when Fidget is silenced by the enemy, the Blade of Ahrah notifies you that she’ll be unable to speak. Dust replies sorrowfully but does it with an unhealthy amount of sarcasm behind it.

Keeping with Fidget, she is, in my opinion, the best part of Dust: An Elysian Tail, without a doubt. Just the sheer number of times I giggled at her shenanigans in a bit embarrassing to admit, but it was a lot. What really caught my eye was the way a button’s presence was handled in her dialogue. She didn’t refer to it as simply the “A” button but did so in a way that was true to her personality. The way Dean Dodrill used tutorial speech to further acquaint you with a character deserves a shout-out. I’d also like to point out the clear Lunar: Silver Star Story Complete vibes. Fidget reminded me of Nall & even her interactions with Dust resembled those with Alex. Seems to me this was a large inspiration & if so, I’d just like to say, you have good taste, sir, good taste.

In conclusion, Dust: An Elysian Tail is an addictive take on a genre that has been around for years. I loved the OST, the fast-paced combat, charm, and the story, especially the twist. It was out of nowhere & very creative. I could sit here gushing about this game all day but instead, I’ll just say this. I received a code so I didn’t have to pay out of pocket. I, however, found myself so enthralled by Dust: An Elysian Tail that I purchased the physical on LimitedRunGames. This is a title that for me, I can see myself playing into the future with my children. The only bummer is that I was too late for the Limited Edition & missed out on the OST!


  • Review Code was Provided by Dean Dodrill. This Review was for Dust: An Elysian Tail on Nintendo Switch.