If you skipped over Humble Hearts’ action role-playing game Dust: An Elysian Tail back in 2012, then you did yourself a major disservice. Luckily for you, and for everyone else who didn’t play it on other platforms, Dust: An Elysian Tail is getting released on the Nintendo Switch. Though at first glance it might not be so apparent, Dust: An Elysian Tail is a visually amazing and fun indie game that was created by one person, independent animator and game developer Dean Dodrill. The visuals of the game are admirably colorful and complimented by a grim story with gameplay that will keep you engaged with its bright, and at times very harsh world.
The presentation of this game is phenomenal, both with its graphics and soundtrack. Even on the Nintendo Switch in portable mode, Dust: An Elysian Tail is still a very pretty game to look at. There are lots of details in the background and foreground of the stages you explore, with many things I wouldn’t notice my first time visiting. The animation on everything from the enemies you fight, the characters you interact with, and the subtle movements and glow of trees in the background look fluid and make everything come to life. But as colorful and beautiful as everything you see is, there is a juxtaposition of dark themes and heavy subjects that give the narrative a grim undertone.
The story follows a warrior named Dust and his companion fidget as they traverse the land of Falana, where war and hardship engulf everyone who resides in it. The content of the story is the same as other consoles, with no changes to the events that take place. So if you’ve played Dust: An Elysian Tail, you know exactly what to expect here. It would’ve been nice to have some extra bonuses or nods for the Nintendo Switch version, but that doesn’t take away from everything good that’s already there.
The action role-playing gameplay is where Dust: An Elysian Tail has a lot to offer. There’s a bit of exploration, similar to a Metroidvania style action game, with a few RPG elements that give a sense of progression from defeating enemies. As you defeat enemies and visit new areas, Dust can gain new abilities that allow you to reach new places in previously explored levels, as well as open up new stages to visit. The controls are incredibly responsive and easy to pick up and start slashing away.
On the Nintendo Switch, you can control Dust using either the analogue stick or directional buttons, with no real difference between the two other than personal preference. Other actions you can do are mapped to either the shoulder buttons or the right analogue stick and face buttons on the Switch. At no point did I feel the controls were wonky or got in the way while I was playing with the joycons connected or disconnected to my console.
While in portable mode on the Switch, there are some sections of the game that take a tiny bit longer to load than before. The difference is small, but still noticeable to anyone that has played the game before on other consoles. Minus a few moments where the game slows down for dramatic effect during some boss fights, everything runs smoothly at a stable high frame rate.
Regardless of whether you play Dust: An Elysian Tail portably or on your television screen, the game displays at 1080p and runs at around 60 frames per second. The audio quality of music and the voice over is great too. Sometimes the voices seemed a bit louder to me when playing in portable mode, but not to the point of becoming overbearing or overpowering the music or other sounds I heard throughout the game.
Even after experiencing it many times beforehand, I really enjoyed playing through Dust: An Elysian Tail again on the Nintendo Switch. The game has a beautiful presentation that will grasp everyone’s attention with fantastic characters and backgrounds, even on the Nintendo Switch’s smaller screen. The story is interesting to see through to the end, and the gameplay is fun with incredibly solid controls. Anyone that is looking for a great experience to have in their Nintendo Switch collection would be very wise to pick up Dust: An Elysian Tail. It is still one of the best and most satisfying indie games I have ever played.
This review is based on a digital review code of Dust: An Elysian Tail for the Nintendo Switch, provided by Humble Hearts.