Dust: A Tale of the Wired West
Myst is generally given a lot of credit for its avoidance of violence and conventional video game goal-orientation. Had it included these things, however, it would not necessarily have been a worse product. What it would have been is something close to Dust: A Tale of the Wired West (Cyberflix Incorporated). This nicely rendered, 3D virtual world puts you in an 1882 New Mexican town, instead of on an island. In Diamondback there’s no wandering around and exploring without time-pressure or conflict – Dust requires you to arm yourself, hone your gambling skills, woo the local whores, assume the role of Sheriff in a lawless town, battle gunslingers, and hold your greed in check, all without getting your boots dusty or insulting somebody who’s too quick on the draw. Also, you’re on a tight schedule; the card cheat from the next town is looking for revenge. He, unlike you, got caught. The game is so much fun that we had a hard time tearing ourselves away, even with a deadline looming. The amount of wit contained in the program is unprecedented in adventure games. There are no groundbreaking multi-dimensional characters here, but there are a slew of sharp-tongued natives you can interact with, and a passel of clever, double-entendre retorts you can deliver. The navigation requires the use of both keyboard and mouse and, once you master it, you can zip around the town without pausing, and even spin in circles in the street without your disc seizing up. That’s disc, singular; the entire adventure is contained on one measly CD-ROM, which is as it should be. They were able to accomplish this because the actors (a talented and refreshingly tongue-in-cheek bunch who double as the Cyberflix production crew) were not filmed on memory-consuming video. Instead they were assembled from a collection of still photos, linked together to give the impression of animation. The result is excellent: faces offer a variety of expressions, characters have tics that define them, and you don’t have to spend hours shuttling discs in and out of your CD-ROM drive. Other corners have been cut to similarly good effect; the game de-resolves when you move quickly, sacrificing prettiness for play action, which is fine with us. Did we mention that if you hesitate in the company of H. Rodham, the town doctor, she muses “Indecisive – just like Bill?” Dust is a fully realized world, chock-full of action and humor, guaranteed to entertain and amuse for days.
– February 1996, Adventure & Mystery