Upsides, then downsides, then verdict. Should be simple.
Basically, this game is a side-scrolling platformer with RPG and action elements. It's really beautiful, looking like a warm and colorful, HD remake of some 90's cartoon about animals with swords and fantasy elements added for good measure. If you're into artistic style
, then you will constantly be in love with the visuals. Exploration feels great, and doing absolutely everything takes effort, but not frustration. The combat is not too complex and doesn't evolve too drastically, which suits the relatively short length of Dust. In my opinion it is one of the most palatable older-audience medias concerning anthropomorphic animals in existence, and while few of the characters are deep, they are all fleshed-out enough to enjoy. You get a snarky fairy follower who is, while annoying, so cute it beggars belief. The conclusion is pretty darn tense. The gameplay is comfortingly familiar in some ways, while the world in which the game takes place is painstakingly original. This good.
Now, for the not-so-goods. The cute fairy follower is annoying. Some of the voice acting is forced, sometimes persuading me to pull out my earphones and clean little bits of fluff out of my keyboard until it finished. The game feels huge, but it doesn't measure up. The concluding segment came out of nowhere, did not mesh well with the preceding hours of gameplay, felt like a chore, and ultimately was not as satisfying as Elysian Tail deserved. If you fully complete the game there are long, awkward stretches where neither you nor your two talkative followers say anything whatsoever - for some reason, this broke the sense of deep immersion for me, probably because up until that point I was really enjoying the feeling of not adventuring on my own. You'll master most of the combat in twenty to thirty minutes, and despite customization, there's one weapon. One guy made this game. That's awesome. But with help it might have been perfect.
The verdict: I wish there were more games like this, which means that I recommend you play it. If you're a fan of animated things, nature, original worlds and emotional, character-driven stories, you'll enjoy this game. If you want a game to kick your donkey around, maybe not, because this is the gaming equivalent of chicken soup for the soul.