Dust Force PS3/Vita review – Diamond of a platformer in need of a polish

Okay, so it might sound a bit like a cleaning product developed by a team of Alan Sugar’s mindless Apprentice candidates – “It’s, like, y’know, a force against dust” – but Dustforce is a slick artistic side-scroller. Tasked with ridding a whole city of grime, you have a choice of janitors who are all blessed with ninja-esque free-running skills and armed with an arsenal of mops and leaf blowers.

Dust Force PS3/Vita review

Presumably doped up to the eyeballs on antihistamines, your chosen character must hurtle through each stylish stage, ridding surfaces of layers of filth as they go. The joy here – where the ‘making cleaning fun bit’ comes in – is building up combos with each sweep of the brush. Double jumps, mid-air sweeps and a nifty dash mechanic all combine to make a kinetic platforming experience that has you running upside down along girders and dodging spikes before leaping between buildings like a Marigolds-wearing Spider-Man. Kim and Aggie eat your hearts out.

Unfortunately, until you’ve mastered the precise and sometimes unresponsive control scheme, you’re going to be plummeting into the abyss as the difficulty curve is akin to using a toothbrush on three week-old dishes.

Even the tutorial is worthy of its own ‘BANG, and the Vita’s gone’ tag line, tempting you to end your handheld’s life with one swift toss against the wall. Yet somehow Dustforce manages to keep you coming back for more sweeping. Whether it’s the effortless autumn leaf removal as you slide down a forest slope with a flick of the analogue stick or attacking dust covered stone gargoyles until they thump satisfyingly down to the ground looking all shiny and new, there’s something beautifully addictive here.

Testing each individual cleaner’s skills and making the most of them is equally rewarding and frustrating. Blue-clad janitor Dustman has flexibility on his side, while wielder of dual cheerleader-style feather duster pom-poms Dustgirl is more agile to aid in tricky wall running manoeuvres. Additional choices of speed and power mean that if you’re failing to gain the finesse rating you need, chances are it’s time to upgrade to a leaf blower or alternative mop.

There’s a compulsive core to Dustforce,
but a desperate polish of the controls is
needed for the platforming to truly shine

With ratings for each level helping you unlock new, more fiendish, areas, it’s somewhat masochistic in its platforming demands. For some this might just be too similar to the chore itself, but the catchy music, artistic style and that ‘just one more go’ mentality means Dustforce is another solid Cross-Buy addition to PSN’s now stellar indie library. There’s a mega-compulsive core to Dustforce, but a desperate polish of the Vita controls is needed for the platforming to truly shine like it deserves.

Our Score

Score: 7