Games with Gold Spotlight: Dust: An Elysian Tail

Here’s the deal: When you sign up for Xbox Live Gold, you get free access to Games with Gold on Xbox 360, which means a new, free game every two weeks! Yep, that’s right: If you have Gold, you don’t have to do a darn thing, and you get a free game. So, what are you waiting for? Here’s a closer look at the latest Games with Gold title!

“Dust: An Elysian Tail” transports you to a world of fantastic color, talking animals, magic swords, epic battles, and one very amnesiac title character. It’s all the singular vision of Dean Dodrill – who wrote, designed, programmed, drew, and did just about every other task on “Dust,” which gives this sidescrolling action-role-playing game a uniquely cohesive feel. Fans of emotional storylines, tons of side-quests, and in-depth gameplay will agree that “Dust’s” adventure makes an excellent addition to Games with Gold.

Although you begin the game without any recollection of your character’s past, discovery in “Dust” goes far beyond simply recovering your memories. Vast, exploration-ripe areas await you, from rolling plains to dank caverns to snowy mountainsides – all brought to life by beautiful 2D art and a flowing, orchestral soundtrack. And, while you can keep to the main drags and stick to the central storyline, characters you come across will often task you with side-quests, fleshing out not only their stories (and yours), but also your inventory and character sheet with plenty of sweet loot.

The main game isn’t strictly linear, either: You have choices as to how you can experience game’s intricate storyline, and those choices also inform how you can approach combat, a major staple of gameplay. Enemies come fast and furious, and it’s very possible – because of the freedom to explore that “Dust” allows – to get in over your head. But don’t worry: You can always seek help from your talking sword, and you can always find more enemies to slay, secret areas to discover, and dastardly puzzles (of both the platforming and brain-busting types) to keep your mind sharp.

But perhaps the most powerful draw that “Dust” can offer is its storyline. Filled with twists and turns built on the characters’ journeys of personal discovery against a backdrop of war and strife (all, again, set in a world of adorable bunnies and moles, mind you), “Dust: An Elysian Tail” brings far more to the table than just a pretty face. Even as you overcome traps and crush your enemies, you’ll be challenged to understand what
exactly is going on, what your role in things has been, and why, after all, you’re really doing all this stuff in the first place. It’s a deep, rewarding journey that’s well worth taking – and enjoying.