Recently I was fortunate enough to stumble upon this trailer of the game Dustforce, by Hitbox Team. It’s available on Steam for $10, which is a pretty trivial price to pay. Give the trailer a watch.
Dustforce is one of the more beautiful games I’ve played in recent times. The soundtrack by Lifeformed (Terence Lee – http://lifeformed.bandcamp.com/album/fastfall ) is wonderfully fitting to the games visual aesthetics (just watch a few gameplay videos to see). The premise of the game is simple – use graceful, ninja-like moves to run and jump through the various stages, attempting to sweep as much of the dust/debris as possible, without getting hit or falling (which breaks your combo). There are effectively 3 (or 4) tiers of stages – 13 “easy” levels, 12 medium-hard, 12 hard-frighteningly difficult, and one that appears to be…well, “Giga Difficult”.
The learning curve is a bit steep, and you have to practice stages a lot in order to perfect them enough to unlock keys into the next level. Anything short of a perfect run earns you nothing in Dustforce, except letter ranks that sort of show how “close” you were, perhaps meant as a metric of how much more practice you need. This frustrated me a bit until I grew used to the controls enough to be reasonably confortable. Of course, there’s a large appeal to the game for speed runners, as every level has a high score table showing the best time, and best 100% time (getting all dust without getting hurt/dying). A nice addition is the availability of replay videos of *every* person’s run – so that means you can watch the best runs for the current stage, and learn! Or just be mystified by their beautiful performance.
In any case, you need to be patient with Dustforce to get a lot out of it…it’s easy to get the urge to quit right away because of how difficult it is at first (not that it *stops* being difficult later, by any means). But the calming soundtrack and visuals help you continue to restart the stages, over, and over, and over…the stages are varied in visual appearance, and all have a nice series of layered backgrounds, taking you from a playground at sunset, to a dusty library in an old mansion, to beautiful forest areas.
Hm..it’s hard to say much more. If you like precision platformers and are okay with the difficulty inherent in the genre, you should plop down the $10 to support the talented team of 4.