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    Dustforce: Sweep the Ledge, Johnny

    The Independent game scene is a frequent mess, but here is Dustforce to clean things up in this early part of 2012. Half tricky platformer and half high-school janitor, Dustforce has the allure of simplicity skinned over a core of wicked difficulty by way of its demand for perfection. Wanna know why you would play a game about cleaning?

    Dustforce sees you take control of one of four neat freaks, who can be likened to the cleanest of ninjas. While the game controls fairly simply, it seems different characters have different difficulty curves. The two broom pushers are the easiest to control, thanks to their balance of range and speed. The young feather duster is fast with limited range, and the old vacuum slow with good range. You'll find a favorite player to clean the town with, but I suggest staying away from the latter pair until you're used to the game.

    Dustforce's physics are a tricky beast. As nimble as each of the characters are, they generally have a bit of heft to them, which takes some adjusting. Coming from Super Meat Boy, where the skinless Boy wonder is light as a feather and incredibly responsive, Dustforce's heroes feel almost sluggish. I say this in the best possible way, as the weight doesn't at all detract from the experience. Platforming fans with less twitch reflex will probably love that about this game. Aside from running and jumping, your street sweeper can double jump, air and ground dash, and do things like run up walls and run on ceilings in brief spurts. You have two buttons for light and heavy attack, and when landed, attacks can allow you to continue chaining forward moving maneuvers to assure you complete the stage with the best time possible. As you traverse trash-tinged terrain and dispose of soiled assailants - who reveal creatures of good when dispatched a la Sonic the Hedgehog - you build a combo meter that grants you a burst ability when filled. This ability clears your surroundings of all pollution and enemies, useful for ending stages due to its quick work and the sick looking slow-mo effect.

    The game is pretty much a continued rush to set new scores. Your performance is graded on completion; how much dust you force away, and finesse; some weird combination of speed, combo, and life. While any old score will allow you to advance, certain stages will only become unlocked upon achieving the elusive S rank for both completion and finesse. I can easily say you will not double S many stages, Dustforce is HARD. It demands perfection. Much like my my current favorite platformer Super Meat Boy, you will fail often. Though where failure in SMB was usually brought about by an untimely death, in Dustforce if you so much as lose pace when defeating a slew of slime-slicked scientists, the precious double S rank will be swept away. Be prepared to "miss a spot" on more than one occasion, where restarting the entire level is a better idea than backtracking if only for 3 seconds.

    The soundtrack belies Dustforce's difficulty, as most of the stages are set to chill, downbeat electro tunes that would have your head nodding if you weren't so fucking focused on cleaning everything in broom's reach. I really hope Hitbox team puts out a soundtrack before Dustforce's eventual Humble Bundle inclusion, because I could always use the fix of a mellow vibe.

    There's not much bad with this clean indie title, though for reasons undefined my beast PC struggled to run the game full screen at max settings. I wanted to do a bit of video capturing to detail my beautiful struggles, but alas, Dustforce wasn't having it. The frame rate issues that arose in full screen with high settings, while video capping are not conducive to a platformer where one wrong move is the difference between invincibility and indignity. Though it would be unfair to pin this on Dustforce at all, as the issue could be attributed to motherboard and graphics card incompatibilities, even though both items are brand new. Damn you AMD! At this time the issue is still unsolved, however good on Hitbox Team for owning up to it and keeping the community abreast of an eventual fix on the Steam forum.

    Dustforce is a fun, addictive, sleek and slick adventure in the world of cleaning. Like the underrated Burning Rangers, Dustforce has taken a topic almost unsuitable for a game, slapped a bit of style and vibrance on it, and pushed out a sleeper hit. Though the game can be played through relatively quickly, trying to attain SS ranks to unlock new stages will have the perfectionist in me picking up the broom again and again until the entire world is free of mess. The impending user created content hub will make absolutely sure of that, if nothing else.

    The Price: $9.99 on Steam
    The Score
    : 8 outta 10 Blasters! 

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