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General Description

Dustforce is a 2D paltformer developed by Hitbox Team and released on Steam in January  2012. Players control acrobatic janitors and sweep up dozens of levels, each of which is designed to be moved through as quickly as possible. Characters are capable of running up walls, dashing across ceilings, jumping multiple times and even attacking enemies to stay airborne. Players increase their chain score every time they sweep up any dust or attack an enemy, and going several seconds without doing either of these things resets it to zero. The player’s real challenge is to move through an entire stage smoothly enough that they never lose their combo; doing this while being sure to clean up every inch of a stage allows players to access a more difficult level, and eventually reach the end of the game.


Problem solving is the game’s biggest strength. Any of a character’s maneuvers is simple to execute by itself, but using all of them to navigate the increasingly complex stages quickly becomes difficult. When trying to earn a perfect score each stage becomes a string of fast-paced puzzles.

Grade by Game Type Overall Grade
D+ D+
Ratings at a Glance
Facts: 1 Title: DUSTFORCE
Creativity: 5 Publisher: Steam & Microsoft
Business: 0 Developer: Hitbox Team
People: 1 Year: 2012
Problem: 4 Genre: Platformer
Simulation: 0 Strengths: popularity
Popularity: 8 Platforms: PC
Extra: 0  
Rating Details

Classroom Facts


Dustforce doesn’t focus on classroom facts. Charts display the player’s ranking after each stage, based on the percentage of the dust they cleaned and the amount of time they took.


Creativity & Imagination


By the Player:


On the surface Dustforce doesn’t seem to have any room for player creativity, but that’s not entirely the case. It’s true that each level follows a linear path, and that path only becomes more linear for players trying to hit a perfect score. Figuring out how to follow through with the path perfectly, however, will require plenty of experimentation, especially as the levels get longer more difficult. A simple splash of dust along a handful of surfaces can require a carefully-timed chain of dashes and wall-jumps, and it’s up the player to figure the best way to tackle each of them, depending on what character they choose and how much time they have.


By the Developer:


Dustforce is a riff on a popular strain of platformers, particularly last year’s Super Meat Boy. Players have a small, distinct set of moves to choose from that are all available from the beginning of the game, leaving it up to the game’s level design to keeps things moving. Dustforce’s stages are lengthy obstacle courses, and it makes the curious decision to force players into completing each one perfectly in order to access more difficult stages. This can be grating at times, but it also forces players to master certain techniques before they can access greater challenges.


Overall the basic mechanics and level design are consistent and fun, and the game’s graphics and soundtrack help it to truly stand out; both are exceptional. The visual style is minimalist and extremely colorful, and the animation is truly a joy to watch.


Business Skills


Business skills are not involved in Dustforce.


People Skills


Dustforce contains a couple small, secondary multiplayer modes, including survival and king of the hill. These are novel but unfortunately exclusive to local multiplayer, limiting their appeal somewhat. Perhaps more compelling are the game’s leaderboards, which compare your best time against those of everyone on your friends list when you finish a stage.


Problem Solving


Dustforce is about figuring out the optimal paths through its levels. Spots of dust that need to be cleaned up are scattered about floors and ceilings. Players don’t need to worry too much if they’re just trying to reach the end of a stage, but its more likely players are trying to complete a perfect run to earn a key to a new stage. This means they need to be able to read each level differently, seeing the dashes and jumps that need to be made to chain all of a stage’s enemies and dust patches into one continuous flow, instead of a simple finish line.


Once a player has figured out an optimal path through a stage, it’s a matter of reflexes and hand-eye coordination. Moving through a level quickly and making accurate jumps is a challenge, especially as even the smallest input tweaks can lead to chain-ruining mistakes. Enemies can also provide surprises, forcing players to think on their feet from time to time instead of simply memorizing a stage.




Dustforce is not a simulation game.




Dustforce has received universally positive reviews for its tight controls, difficulty level and particularly its soundtrack and visual style.


Controls & Options


Standard audio, visual and control options are available.




Dustforce hasn’t been rated yet by the ESRB. A major upcoming update is scheduled to add a full level editor to the game, allowing players to create and share their own stages.