I recently picked up the indie game Dust Force as part of the Humble Indie Bundle, and have spent the last few days playing it.
The Humble Indie Bundle is a program where you can get a package of independently developed games and pay as little or as much for it as you want. The money gets divided among the developers and charities, and if you pay more than the average amount, you unlock some additional games. You can learn more about it here.
Dust Force is one of the games you get for paying more than the average, so I was expecting it to really be something special. In Dust Force, you play a number of different characters of your choosing. You run around levels in 2D side-scrolling platform style, cleaning dust and leaves off of surfaces. The game incorporates some puzzle-like elements, as you need to use the right combination of jumps, moves, and key-presses to get to some of the surfaces. Cleaning surfaces also adds to your combo counter, which counts down over time. You have to keep your combo counter active if you want to achieve a perfect score on the level.
The idea is certainly different and unique, but to be honest, I don’t enjoy the game very much. I’m sure there are some people that do, but I’m not one of them. The controls are far too twitchy and unforgiving. A game like this requires that you move your character precisely, yet when you stop running you always slide. Then when you’re jumping around, it can be difficult to position and move your character just how you want, resulting in you landing on some spikes or something similar and having to repeat that section of the level over and over again.
The game isn’t difficult because of its puzzles or creative mechanics. The game is difficult just because of its controls, and that’s just bad design. Dust Force ends up being far more frustrating than fun.