Dusty Raging Fist Review code provided by the publisher.
In this Dusty Raging Fist review, we’ll see how the new installment in the series has improved, and whether it’s a worthy contender for fans of the genre.
Dusty Raging Fist is a beat ’em up in the truest sense. The main characters all have their own unique fighting style, allowing players to select whichever fits their playstyle the best (or whomever they think is the coolest looking).
The game follows the story of Dusty Milear, a long-eared and ruggedly handsome rabbit skilled in martial arts and wielding dual revolvers, a shotgun, and a giant buster sword with a precision and power Cloud Strife would be proud of.
Like any hardheaded protagonist, he is accompanied on his journey by allies sharing his same goals.
Kitsune is a spry and enigmatic assassin from the east. She is a master of Ninjutsu and fights with a katana and kunai, and is the fastest and most agile of the three.
Darg is Dusty’s childhood friend. A towering mass of muscle and warpaint, this behemoth elk wields a large boomerang and moves with speed and grace surpassing Dusty’s own.
Dusty and Darg are visited by a small boy in trouble. He tells them his village is being attacked and is in need of aid. Dusty, being ever virtuous, vows to help, but before they leave they are visited by Kitsune, who regales them with tales of the rise of a dark moon and that the increasing number of attacks is coinciding with the return of an ancient evil.
Thus they set out, guided by Kitsune, to collect the legendary Elemental Powers that are fabled to be the key to stopping the return of this all consuming darkness.
Though the story may sound a bit familiar, it by no means takes away from the experience. Key points are shown through some beautiful hand-drawn and animated cutscenes, with some surprisingly high-quality voice acting and narrating that breathes even more life into these instantly lovable characters.
In fact, the story is actually pretty deep and enjoyable for a 2D side-scrolling beat ’em up, which speaks to the quality and care taken to ensure this isn’t just another mindless brawler.
However, a beat ’em up just isn’t a beat ’em up without a good fighting system, and there are no worries in regards to that, as Dusty Raging Fist contains combo luxury in ample quantities.
The combat system is simple enough. You can use light, medium, or ranged attacks, and your movement is smooth as you’ll need to time your dodges and double jumps properly to avoid attacks in kind.
Although they all have very similar combos, the beauty lies in the combo system’s fluidity, allowing you to design your own combos using those light, heavy, and ranged attacks.
Knocking enemies into the air allows for some juggling combos, as any good beat ’em up should have, and following up with your own air attacks allows you to smash them into the ground, leaving them open for your own dive kick or meteor attacks.
If you find yourself surrounded, you can hold down the ranged attack button to charge a crowd-clearing attack, like Dusty’s shotgun or Kitsune’s Ninjutsu, giving you room to breathe and reformulate your strategy.
It also helps that enemies can be stunned, and are susceptible to continuing your combo attacks while they are on the ground or recovering from your previous barrage.
Despite these similarities, each character has their own attacks and specialties. Darg is useful for tanking damage and sending enemies flying. Kitsune can easily and quickly traverse the screen, slicing through multiple enemies at once. Dusty is excellent for juggling enemies and crowd control.
These abilities are amplified even further through the Elemental powers you’ll collect on your journey.
There are three that are shared between them all; Ice for freezing enemies, Lightning for shocking them, and Darkness pulls them into a void; with one unique element specifically for each character (Dusty wields fire, Kitsune wind, and Darg earth).
Proper use of each of these elements, as well as upgrading them regularly, is the key to success in your journey, giving Dusty and his friends the power they need to be victorious.
The game can be tackled either by yourself or with one or two friends via couch co-op. Although it feels like PD Design Studio missed an opportunity to allow online play, it doesn’t hinder the experience in any way whether you play with friends or not, and is actually perfect for parents with older children (there is blood and violence, so not for the younglings), or for siblings to play together as well.
Even if you’re going solo, you aren’t ever truly alone, as there are two partners specializing in long range attacks to help clear out snipers, clear debris, or turn your enemies into headless craters.
Lieutenant Snow is a world-class sniper you can signal to shoot enemies giving you trouble, and Leo is the world’s most renowned demolitions expert, who is capable of clearing a path for you or blowing through enemies guards.
These teammates are invaluable for switching up the odds during the more daunting encounters, and used wisely they can mean the difference between victory and restarting at the last checkpoint, especially where bosses are concerned.
Speaking of, the boss fights are amazing and do exactly what good boss fights should do: challenge everything you have learned in fun and creative ways. Don’t expect an easy time with these guardians and gang-leaders, as their attacks and speed will always put you on the defensive, even offering improved levels of difficulty as their health dwindles and they unleash new moves.
The elements you gather are not without their other bonuses as well. Interwoven seamlessly into the story, the Elemental Guardians that grant Dusty and his friends their added powers can also be called forth to unleash devastating attacks after their gems are charged.These summons aid greatly in combat when you are overwhelmed or just need to deal that last bit of damage to finish off a boss.
There is also one hidden summon, as well as multiple secret areas to discover and hidden crystals to shoot, offering up chests full of extra EXP and life increasing gems.
Despite the copious amounts of fun to be had, it is with a heavy heart that I inform you the game is not without its flaws.
Though it offers up a fantastic musical score, the actual sound effects are left wanting. More often than not, the impacts of your attacks aren’t felt with the sound of crunching bone and the like you would expect from a brawler, and it is really weird in this day-and-age to rapid fire Dusty’s revolvers and only hear the gun fire every third shot or so.
Dusty himself is also very lacking as a fighter. For a character that’s supposed to be the average between the three, he feels clunky and more often than not his hit box feels off, oftentimes leading to falling off platforms.
I mentioned earlier that Darg moves with more grace and speed than Dusty, and this was a complete shock as I was expecting him to move more slowly (like you would for the “muscle guy” of the group), but Dusty was the slowest of them and sometimes very cumbersome to use in big group fights.
There are also many instances of frame rate drops and slowdown, amplified even more when playing couch co-op with friends, but this thankfully doesn’t take away too much from the experience.
Kitsune was an absolute treat to fight as, which unfortunately drove home the point that with the proper tweaking and a little more effort put into fine tuning the levels, sound effects, and Dusty himself, PD Design Studio could have turned a really good beat ’em up into a truly great one.
The animations, graphics, characters, and story telling are all top notch though, and whether you are a returning fan of the first game, or love beat ’em ups in general, Dusty Raging Fist is a worthy collection to your library, enjoyable with friends or solo.