Dust: An Elysian Tail

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Dust: An Elysian Tail
Developer(s) Humble Hearts
Publisher(s) Microsoft Studios
Distributor(s) Humble Hearts
IndieBox (Windows, OS X, Linux physical)
Designer(s) Dean Dodrill
Writer(s) Dean Dodrill
Alex Kain
Composer(s) HyperDuck SoundWorks
Alexander Brandon
Engine XNA
Platform(s) Xbox 360
Microsoft Windows
PlayStation 4
Release XBLA
  • WW: August 15, 2012[1]
Microsoft Windows
  • WW: May 24, 2013[2]
Linux, OS X
  • WW: December 17, 2013
PlayStation 4
  • NA: October 7, 2014
  • EU: October 8, 2014
  • WW: October 8, 2015
Genre(s) Action role-playing, beat 'em up, Metroidvania[3]
Mode(s) Single-player

Dust: An Elysian Tail is an action role-playing video game developed by independent designer Dean Dodrill, published by Microsoft Studios. It was released on for Xbox 360 through Xbox Live Arcade on August 15, 2012,[1] and it was subsequently released for Microsoft Windows on Steam on May 24, 2013,[2] and on GOG.com on November 7, 2013.[4] It was released for Linux and OS X on December 19, 2013. The game was released on PlayStation 4 on October 7, 2014 in North America and October 8, 2014 in Europe. The game was released for iOS on October 8, 2015.

Dust takes place in a world populated by anthropomorphic creatures, where the main character Dust comes upon a sentient sword, the Blade of Ahrah, and its guardian Fidget. Without memories of his past, Dust follows Fidget's advice and aids the population of the world against forces led by General Gaius. The game is an action-adventure game with Metroidvania-style exploration, requiring the player to gain power-ups to Dust's abilities to reach new areas. Combat is based on brawler-like mechanics, where Dust can use a combination of swordplay and magic from Fidget to defeat enemies. Dodrill compiled nearly all of the game's programming and assets himself, relying only on external help for voice acting, narrative, and the game's soundtrack.

Dust received generally positive reviews praising the game particularly for its art style. The game has sold more than a million copies as of March 2014.[5]


Dust takes place in the fictional world of Falana, inhabited by anthropomorphic animals. Gameplay is presented on a 2D side-scrolling plane. The player controls the titular main character, Dust (Lucien Dodge), as he tries to remember his past. Dust wields a sentient sword, the Blade of Ahrah (Edward Bosco), as his main weapon. Fidget (Kimlinh Tran), the sword's guardian, acts as a companion for Dust and can use magical attacks. As the player travels the world, they can acquire power-ups that permanently alter gameplay, such as the ability to double jump or climb to previously unreachable areas. Incorporating elements of role-playing games, Dust can gain experience points by defeating enemies, and in turn may level up. These can be used to raise various attributes, such as health, strength, defense or magic. Non-playable characters can be interacted with throughout the game's world to sell items or receive quests.[6] The developer, who is half Korean, incorporated various Korean elements in the game design, including the logo and various food items.[7]


The game begins with Dust awakening in a forest meadow, approached by a floating, sentient sword known as the Blade of Ahrah.[8] Dust is joined by Fidget, a small flying creature called a Nimbat, who just so happens to be the sword's guardian, and sets out for a small town in search of answers.[9]

Upon arriving in Aurora, the group find the town overrun with monsters. The mayor of the town asks Dust for his help, and he tracks down the leader of the enemies, Fuse. Just before he dies, Fuse reveals himself to be a Moonblood, creatures who are victims of a genocide perpetrated by a man known as General Gaius. Fuse also tells Dust that he played a role in the war at some point.[10] Mayor Bram instructs Dust to speak to a woman in Aurora named Ginger, who may have more knowledge of the Moonbloods. She is revealed to be part of a group of Moonblood sympathizers, a group that was recently found and killed by General Gaius's soldiers.[11]

After travelling into the northern mountains, Dust and Fidget come across an abandoned village, where Ginger and the leader of the Moonbloods, Elder Gray Eyes, are waiting. Gray Eyes reveals that Dust was created by the Moonbloods from two people who perished at the same time: Jin (Ginger's brother) and Cassius (an assassin employed by Gaius). These two were exact opposites; Cassius was purely evil but of great skill with the sword, and Jin was completely innocent and good but incapable of defeating Gaius. Their combination together became the Moonblood's "Sen-Mithrarin".[12]

The group then heads to the Moonblood base in a volcanic region to the north named Everdawn Basin, where Dust assists the Moonbloods in fighting back Gaius's troops. Reaching the peak of the volcano, Dust fights General Gaius in a lengthy battle. Eventually, Gaius hangs from an outcrop over a pool of lava, where he tells Dust that Cassius is no longer part of him, then throws himself into the lava.[13] Fidget tries to get the exhausted Dust back up, but he refuses, and is consumed by the volcano.

After the battle, Elder Gray Eyes gives a speech to the remaining Moonbloods, telling them that because of Dust's sacrifice, they can now rebuild and live at peace with the rest of the world.[14] During his dialogue, Ginger and Fidget witness a dust cloud, along with the Blade of Ahrah rising out of the volcano and flying off, suggesting Dust may still be alive, and chase after it in hopes of finding him.


Aside from voice acting, soundtrack, and parts of the story, Dust was designed and programmed entirely by Dodrill. A self-taught illustrator and animator, he had previously done artwork and cinematics on Epic Games' Jazz Jackrabbit 2, and was in the process of creating an independent animated film, Elysian Tail.[15] He assumed it would take three months to complete the game; it actually took over three-and-a-half years.[16] He originally envisioned the game as an 8-bit-style platformer, similar to earlier entries in the Castlevania series. Inspirations for the final game came from such titles as Metroid, Golden Axe, and Ys I & II, which Dodrill cites as his favorite games.[17]

The game was originally targeted for the Xbox 360 Indie Games channel,[18] but upon winning the 2009 Microsoft Dream.Build.Play Challenge, it was awarded a contract for an Xbox Live Arcade release.[19] Dust: An Elysian Tail was originally expected to be released in late 2011, but was later delayed until summer 2012.[20][21] A version for the PlayStation 4, with 1080p support, was released on October 7, 2014.[22]


In May 2016, Humble Hearts joined forces with the subscription box company, IndieBox, to distribute an exclusive physical release of Dust: An Elysian Tail. This limited collector’s edition included a themed USB drive with DRM-free game file, official soundtrack on CD, instruction manual, Steam key, and various custom-designed collectible items including an individually-numbered animation cell.[23][24]

The official soundtrack was released on October 1, 2012. It was composed by HyperDuck SoundWorks and contains 37 tracks at a total length of 1.79 hours.[25]


Dust: An Elysian Tail
Aggregate scores
Aggregator Score
GameRankings (X360) 84.09%[26]
(PS4) 79%[27]
(PC) 82%[28]
Metacritic (X360) 83/100[29]
(PS4) 79/100[30]
(PC) 85/100[31]
Review scores
Publication Score
Destructoid 8.5/10[32]
Eurogamer 7/10[33]
Game Informer 8.75/10[34]
GameSpot 7/10[35]
Giant Bomb 5/5 stars[36]
IGN 8.5/10[37]
Polygon 8/10[38]

Dust: An Elysian Tail received general acclaim from critics. Aggregating review website GameRankings provides an average rating of 84.09% based on 39 reviews for the Xbox 360 version,[26] 79% based on 4 reviews for the PlayStation 4 version,[27] and 82% based on 4 reviews for the Microsoft Windows version.[28] Metacritic provides a score of 83 out of 100 from 59 critics for the Xbox 360 version,[29] 79 out of 100 from 5 critics for the PlayStation 4 version,[30] and 85 out of 100 from 7 critics for the Microsoft Windows version.[31]

The Official Xbox Magazine gave the game 9.5 out of 10, praising the detailed environments and animations and also approving of the combat system.[39]

Vincent Ingenito of IGN gave the game a rating of 8.5 out of 10, saying "The RPG elements could have been stronger, and the boss battles are a bit of a letdown, but if those are the worst things about your game, you're in pretty good shape." He approved of the lively and varied backgrounds, gameplay and the amount of content in comparison to the price.[37]

Tom McShea of GameSpot gave the game 7 out of 10, criticizing the combat, voice acting and story. However, some other aspects such as the diverse and vivid backgrounds, responsive controls and side content were complimented.[35]


Dust sold over 45,000 copies during the month of August based on leaderboard totals, and finished 2012 with nearly 83,000 sold.[40][41] On February 18, 2014, Dust was included as a part of Humble Indie Bundle 11.[42] In March 2014, Humble Hearts reported that Dust had sold more than a million copies across all platforms.[5]


Dean Dodrill stated in an interview, "I will revisit the story of Dust sometime, it will be a while, because I want to do something unique, and different for a while. But I do have ideas for the next couple games. Like one we've done a lot of talking about and how we want to approach it".[43]


  1. ^ a b Larry Hryb (June 19, 2012). "Summer of Arcade dates and prices". Retrieved 2012-12-04. 
  2. ^ a b Valve Corporation (2013-05-24). "Now Available – Dust: An Elysian Tail". Steam. 
  3. ^ Carter, Chris (October 7, 2015). "Dust: An Elysian Tail, a fantastic metroidvania, is coming to iOS". Destructoid. Retrieved July 13, 2016. 
  4. ^ GOG.com (2013-11-07). "Release: Dust: An Elysian Tail". CD Projekt. 
  5. ^ a b Wawro, Alex (2014-03-03). "Over a million copies of Dust: An Elysian Tail have been sold". Gamasutra. Retrieved 2014-03-03. 
  6. ^ Vincent Ingenito (August 13, 2012). "Dust: An Elysian Tail Review". IGN. Retrieved 2012-12-04. 
  7. ^ Dean Dodrill (July 3, 2013). "Steam Community discussion". Retrieved 2014-07-22. 
  8. ^ Ahrah: I am the Blade of Ahrah. And you, Dust, are my fated sword-bearer. Humble Hearts (2012-08-15). Dust: An Elysian Tail. Xbox Live Arcade, Microsoft Windows. Microsoft Studios. 
  9. ^ Dust: What exactly AM I doing, Ahrah? Ahrah: The answers you seek lie to the east. There is a path through the glade that leads down the mountainside, and from there you will find a village. That is your first step. Humble Hearts (2011-08-15). Dust: An Elysian Tail. Xbox Live Arcade, Microsoft Windows. Microsoft Studios. 
  10. ^ Fuse: You and your warmblooded kin. We Moonbloods were outcast...scattered to the wind. You and others like you...they came to my village, killed my family. Humble Hearts (2011-08-15). Dust: An Elysian Tail. Xbox Live Arcade, Microsoft Windows. Microsoft Studios. 
  11. ^ Ginger: I've tried to help where I can, but it's hard. There aren't many Moonbloods left outside of their homeland, and it's only a matter of time before Gaius wipes them out entirely.Humble Hearts (2011-08-15). Dust: An Elysian Tail. Xbox Live Arcade, Microsoft Windows. Microsoft Studios. 
  12. ^ Dust: So that's why you picked Cassius and Jin. Just like you said...opposites. Elder Gray Eyes: Exactly. Cassius was one of the greatest warriors this world has ever seen, and Jin's purity of heart would help guide our warrior to save our kind. From their fallen souls, you were born. Born to save us. To save this world. Humble Hearts (2011-08-15). Dust: An Elysian Tail. Xbox Live Arcade, Microsoft Windows. Microsoft Studios. 
  13. ^ General Gaius: You...you're not Cassius... Dust: Yes, I am. General Gaius: Yes...you are. But Cassius is gone... as is the world we once loved. Cherish it.Humble Hearts (2011-08-15). Dust: An Elysian Tail. Xbox Live Arcade, Microsoft Windows. Microsoft Studios. 
  14. ^ Elder Gray Eyes: Dust's sacrifice will allow the Moonblood race to rise again – to rebuild our glorious civilization and live peacefully among the races of this world. Though it may appear that Dust has fallen here today, a force of good is not so easily extinguished. Humble Hearts (2011-08-15). Dust: An Elysian Tail. Xbox Live Arcade, Microsoft Windows. Microsoft Studios. 
  15. ^ Samit Sarkar (September 3, 2012). "Humble origins: The solo odyssey behind Dust: An Elysian Tail". Polygon.com. Retrieved 2013-01-20. 
  16. ^ Kyle Orland (August 23, 2012). "Dust: An Elysian Tail: One animator's 3.5 year quest to create his dream game". Ars Technica. Retrieved 2012-12-04. 
  17. ^ "A Conversation: Ken Lobb And Dean Dodrill". Retrieved 2012-12-04. 
  18. ^ Sterling, Jim (2009-08-06). "Dust: An Elysian Tail gets new, incredibly beautiful trailer". Destructoid. Retrieved 2011-03-21. 
  19. ^ "Microsoft Announces Dream.Build.Play 2011 For Indies". GameDaily. 2011-03-01. Retrieved 2011-03-21. 
  20. ^ Rose, Mike (2011-01-07). "In-Depth: 10 Indie Games To Watch Out For In 2011". Gamasutra. Retrieved 2011-03-21. 
  21. ^ "Dust: An Elysian Tail". IGN Entertainment. Retrieved 2011-12-28. 
  22. ^ Dodrill, Dean (2014-08-28). "Dust: An Elysian Tail Coming to PS4". PlayStation Blog. Retrieved 2014-08-28. 
  23. ^ "IndieGames.com IndieBox, a Dust: An Elysian Tail Edition". indiegames.com. Retrieved 2017-06-03. 
  24. ^ "The Dust: an Elysian Tail IndieBox is as pretty as the game - Geek.com". Geek.com. 2016-06-13. Retrieved 2017-06-03. 
  25. ^ "Dust: An Elysian Tail HyperDuck SoundWorks". Retrieved 2013-05-25. 
  26. ^ a b "Dust: An Elysian Tail for Xbox 360". GameRankings. Retrieved 2013-07-03. 
  27. ^ a b "Dust: An Elysian Tail for PlayStation 4". GameRankings. Retrieved 2015-02-02. 
  28. ^ a b "Dust: An Elysian Tail for Microsoft Windows". GameRankings. Retrieved 2015-02-02. 
  29. ^ a b "Dust: An Elysian Tail for Xbox 360 Reviews, Ratings, Credits, and More". Metacritic. Retrieved 2013-01-20. 
  30. ^ a b "Dust: An Elysian Tail for PlayStation 4 Reviews, Ratings, Credits, and More". Metacritic. Retrieved 2015-02-02. 
  31. ^ a b "Dust: An Elysian Tail for Microsoft Windows Reviews, Ratings, Credits, and More". Metacritic. Retrieved 2015-02-02. 
  32. ^ "Review: Dust: An Elysian Tail". Destructoid. August 13, 2012. Retrieved February 2, 2015. 
  33. ^ "Dust: An Elysian Tail Review". Eurogamer. August 17, 2012. Retrieved February 2, 2015. 
  34. ^ "Dust: An Elysian Tail". Game Informer. August 14, 2012. Retrieved February 2, 2015. 
  35. ^ a b "Dust: An Elysian Tail Review". GameSpot. August 14, 2012. Retrieved February 2, 2015. 
  36. ^ "Dust: An Elysian Tail Review". Giant Bomb. August 20, 2012. Retrieved February 2, 2015. 
  37. ^ a b "Dust: An Elysian Tail Review". IGN. August 13, 2012. Retrieved February 2, 2015. 
  38. ^ "Dust: An Elysian Tail Review: Something Old, Something New". Polygon. August 12, 2012. Retrieved February 2, 2015. 
  39. ^ Reyes, Francesca (August 13, 2012). "Official XBOX Magazine". Retrieved 2012-12-04. 
  40. ^ Ryan Langley (September 5, 2012). "Gamasutra – News – XBLA's annual 'Summer of Arcade' promotion may be losing its steam". Gamasutra. Retrieved 2012-12-04. 
  41. ^ Ryan Langley (January 17, 2013). "Xbox Live Arcade sales analysis, December 2012". Gamasutra. Retrieved 2013-01-20. 
  42. ^ "Humble Indie Bundle 11: Monaco, Guacamelee! and More". Humble Mumble. February 18, 2014. Retrieved 2014-02-24. 
  43. ^ Neesee, Paul. "Dust An Elysian Tail After-Panel Interview: PAXEast 2013". Youtube.com. Youtube. Retrieved 2014-07-23. 

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