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Dustforce is an acrobatic 2D platformer produced by indie developer Hitbox Team. You play as the Dustforce, a band of the most athletic cleaners in the world. Your objective is to dash, Double Jump, Wall Jump, wall run and somersault through twisting Parkour racecourses while cleaning up all the dust that litters its obscure corners.
The game is Le Parkour at its finest as you will have to pick the optimal path to take you past all the dust and use dizzying combinations of Prince of Persia style wall-running to keep you on track. The game is focused on flowing gameplay, with a scoring system that awards not only dust collected but combos, meaning you will need to use seamless platforming to avoid stopping collecting dust. Only a perfect run, collecting all the dust without stopping, will net you the highest SS ranking (S+ in the prototype).
Of particular note are the dust mechanics. As well as looking beautiful the dust (or leaves etc.) clings to floors, walls and ceilings and is placed in such a way to mark the optimal path through the level. While you will still have to work out how to collect it all, you can deduce what kind of sequence of acrobatics is required to proceed.
The game also features beautiful environments, smooth animation and soothing music, giving it a very airy and light atmosphere.
The game was released on Steam on January 17th 2012. An extensive prototype demo was released a while back, including a set of levels and a full level-editor. Each level has a different character, with some emphasizing acrobatics, others smooth combo-building, and one showcasing some Nintendo Hard platforming. Be warned though that this prototype is out of date, running on an entirely different engine and having much more temperamental controls than the final product. You can find the prototype here.
Dustforce provides examples of:
- All There in the Manual: The characters have names. You would only ever be able to find them out if you look through the game's files. For the Dustforce, blue guy is Dustman, red is Dustgirl, purple is Dustkid, and green is Dustworth. For their Mirror Boss counterparts, their respective names are Dustwraith, Leafsprite, Trashking, and Slimeboss.
- Almighty Janitor: The main cast are basically some of the most literal interpretations of this trope, being street sweeping ninjas.
- Animate Inanimate Object: Trash cans, books and other objects are after the player as they're corrupted for not being cleaned.
- Badass Grandpa: Dustworth
- Battle Aura: When the player reaches a high enough combo, a trailing version appears, which indicates you can use your Charged Attack.
- Benevolent Architecture: Levels are set up for maximum acrobatics and dust trails show you the way through.
- Blush Sticker: The female characters have these.
- Book Ends: Sort of. The tutorial stage and Brutal Bonus Level share a tileset and music track.
- Bottomless Pits: Plenty of levels have them.
- Broomstick Quarterstaff: Two characters use them, both to sweep and smash.
- Charged Attack: Collect-type. Based on combo-counts, the bar charges up to 100 at which point the attack can be activated to wipe out all enemies and dust nearby.
- The bar also appears to be charged by getting hit by enemies, but this is not particularly ideal since one hit breaks your combo.
- Critical Existence Failure: In the prototype, your character explodes into a cloud of dust on hitting spikes or simply falling out of the play area. Strangely beautiful when the cloud is made of autumn leaves or polygons.
- Death Course: As the player progresses, the later levels are this, requiring pixel-perfect jumps to avoid spikes and hazards with little room to manoeuvre.
- Death Is a Slap on The Wrist: Frequent checkpoints mean you aren't sent back far, but dying will break your combo and thus lower your finesse rank.
- Double Jump: Smashing an object restores your double jump even if you double jumped into it. Dustkid has a triple jump.
- Easter Egg: Remote locations can feature these.
- Everything Trying to Kill You: Wild animals, books, garbage cans, treasure chests and many other things are not happy for not being clean.
- Flawless Victory: The elusive SS rank requires a perfect run, as a single mistake may require restarting the level.
- Follow the Money: Dust both boosts your score and guides you through levels. Collecting it is also the objective in-story, making this an excellent example of Gameplay and Story Integration.
- Gag Nose: Dustman and Dustworth have pink noses.
- Ground Pound: One of the moves that's possible to execute.
- Hitbox Dissonance: A source of frustration for players is being unable to tell where exactly is the edge of a cliff of a jump with respect to the four characters while moving, causing players to waste their double jump prematurely.
- Hub Level - A separate hub for each world, as well as a main hub to connect them.
- Improbable Weapon User: Arguably everyone -- see Improvised Weapon below -- but Dustkid's weapon is weird even by the standards of the game. She uses oversized dusters that she wields like some sort of bizarre, weaponized pom-poms.
- Improvised Weapon: Your characters use the same brooms, dusters and vacuum cleaners they use to remove dust to smash containers and obstacles (also made of dust).
- Interchangeable Antimatter Keys: A single-use key will work on any appropriate door of that type.
- Jack of All Stats: Dustman has an average speed and attack compared to other 3.
- Level Editor: The prototype has one and the full game recently received one.
- Le Parkour
- Last Lousy Point: For the highest rank you need every single dust mote in a level, and if you miss one by fluffing a jump backtracking for it is either risky (delays risk breaking your combo) or impossible.
- Limit Break: It takes the form of a multi-hit flash step attack...thingy...that you charge up by dusting.
- Malevolent Architecture: Castles, streets, forests and labs usually aren't that hostile in real life as they are in this game.
- Mirror Boss: The Dustforce has an opposing team of dust-spreaders with similar acrobatic skill sets. Each is playable in Multiplayer King of the Hill and Survival matches.
- Mooks but No Bosses: The boss-looking Evil Counterparts are actually multiplayer characters.
- Nintendo Hard: SS rankings require getting every piece of dust without breaking your combo (or dying), which may take several minutes in longer levels. The "Difficult" demo stage requires pixel-perfect platforming to stay alive, let alone achieve this. Just take a look. And there are plenty more where that came from in the final version.
- An update in early May 2012 reworked the hub levels so that it's now more difficult to get to more difficult stages. Actually reaching gold key levels to unlock them can be quite difficult, now.
- The same update introduced five new levels that make Giga Difficult look simple.
- No Plot, No Problem
- Not the Fall That Kills You: In the demo there is actually an invisible death zone under the stage that kills you if you fall off. If you neglect to put this into a stage you made with the editor the player will fall a very long time until they hit the edge of the huge map area and die.
- Platform Hell: Many of the gold-key levels fall into this category, as well as the aptly-named final level Giga Difficult.
- Red Oni, Blue Oni: Dustgirl and Dustman have colour-coded overalls and combo auras.
- Ryu and Ken: They also share this dynamic as well.
- Scenery Porn: The autumn leaves in particular look very impressive.
- Each level type in the demo has its own aesthetic and dust type. The dusty castle, autumn leaf valley and tron-esque computerscapes are all beautiful.
- Serious Business: Cleaning.
- Shield Bearing Mook: Animated armor.
- Spikes of Doom: The only things that will be able to kill you, according to developers in a recent interview (though that may not include pits).
- Temporary Platform: Dust can form these, forcing you to erase the ground under your feet. It Gets Worse when you have a complex sequence constructed out of these platforms over a bottomless pit.
- Tron Lines: The tutorial and final level has this aesthetic. It's a shame they didn't give this dust type a full level set because it looks very distinctive.
- Videogame Dashing: A big part of gameplay. Grounddashing, air dashing and wall dashing are present.
- Wall Jump: A big part of gameplay.
- X Meets Y: N+ meets... cleaning?