Each character can jump, dash, run on walls, and cling to/slide on the ceiling and walls to navigate levels. Characters also have air charges that they can use to either jump or dash in the air. Most characters have only one air charge (double jump), but Dustkid has two air charges (triple jump).
Jumps only have two heights, a short hop and full jump. You can short hop by pressing the jump button quickly. Air jumps cannot be short hopped.
Different characters have different jump heights. Dustworth has the highest jumps (about 4 game "blocks"), Dustman/Dustgirl have average jumps (3 blocks), and Dustkid has the shortest jumps (2.5 blocks).
Dashing is one of the most versatile moves in the game.
On the ground, dashing brings you to your maximum base running speed instantly. When characters start running from a standstill, they will normally have a slower period before reaching the normal running speed. Dashing normally just removes this slower period. That is, further dashing at max running speed will not make you any faster.
Air dashing brings you to the same max running speed as ground dashing does.
Similarly, falling has a slower windup period at the beginning before reaching maximum falling speed. Characters can dash downwards to reach maximum falling speed faster (although Dustkid may actually have a downdash that is faster than her fall). Downdashing is commonly used to start a fall faster or to reach the ground quickly after a jump to get back up to dash speed.
Downdashing can only be performed while you are falling or have no upward speed. Air dashing is often used to cancel upward momentum so that you can downdash without have to wait for your jump arc to come back down. Unlike normal air dashes, downdashes do not use an air charge, meaning that it's possible to jump or dash mid-air after downdashing.
Dashing immediately after impacting or sliding down a ramp will allow you to transfer your falling/sliding speed to your ground speed. By dashing rhythmically, you can maintain this speed to cross maps extremely quickly. Note that mashing dash as fast as possible will not maintain this speed. You'll have to play around and find the right rhythm. This rhythm varies slightly with character as their dash speed/lengths varies.
Although characters have different jump heights, all characters seem to get the same height when wall running.
Characters can jump and dash off of walls without using their air charge. Most often this is used as a simple wall jump, but more advanced uses include:
- wall dashing back and forth between two walls to refresh the ability to wall run
- at the top of a wall jumping column, dashing off the wall and immediately air jumping to jump out of the column with dash speed
Ceiling running has a starting speed that depends on your speed when you reach the ceiling, but decays as you cross the ceiling. Ceiling runs have a minimum speed similar to dash speed, meaning that starting a ceiling run from a walk will actually start the run faster than you hit it. During a ceiling run, you will cling to the ceiling as long as you hold up, or until you have no horizontal speed (where you will fall after a short delay). While clinging to the ceiling, you cannot jump, dash, or attack.
While clinging to a wall, you can influence how quickly you slide down it by holding up or down. Holding up will decrease your speed, and holding down will increase your speed.
Every character has a light attack and a heavy attack. Light attacks are faster, but they have shorter range and deal less damage (1 tick). Heavy attacks are slower, but have longer range and larger hitboxes and deal more damage (3 ticks). Heavy attacks also spread dust (or leaves, or whatever) onto the environment in the same direction as heavy upon killing an enemy. Note that heavy attacks cannot spread dust onto walls covered in spikes.
The damage values are based on how many hits it takes to kill the different enemies. For instance, a leaf ball has 3 health and can be killed with 3 light attacks or 1 heavy attack. A wolf (like at the end of Firefly Forest) has 5 health and can be killed with 5 light attacks, 2 light attacks and a heavy attack, or 2 heavy attacks.
An air dashjump is the action of doing both a dash and a jump in one air action. To do an air dashjump, you must press dash and jump simultaniously on the same frame.
Air dashjumps are not commonly used due to the fact that it is a frame perfect trick, but it can save time in some places. Apartments has an example of where an air dashjump saves time.
Hitcanceling is canceling the cooldown animation of an attack with another action. There are multiple ways to do cancel your attacks. The most common one is using a dash or a jump to interrupt an air attack. You can hit an enemy with a heavy attack, dash to cancel the cooldown, and immediately heavy attack again. An easy example of this technique can be found in Overgrown Temple.
A less common way of hitcanceling is by using a wall to cancel an attack. This is done by using an attack while approaching the wall, and then grabbing the wall in the middle of the attack. It's possible to do this in a way that the attack doesn't appear at all, yet still hits the enemy. The beginning of Power Room has an example of this.
Groundboosting is a technique where you hit flat ground at a certain speed to get a small speed boost. The easiest way of getting a groundboost is to do a full double jump on completely flat ground with Dustman or Dustgirl. When you land, you will have a small speed boost that takes you over the running speed of your character. If you combine this with constant dashing, it is possible to keep this boost across a long distance.
Groundboosts tend to require specific setups in each level due to all the different terrain each level has. Good examples and ideas for setups can be found in the top Cliffside Caves replays, as well as replays for other levels.
Spikewalking is using spikes as a platform in a way that doesn't kill your character. Almost everyone has accidentily landed on the edge of a spike platform at least once. The edges of platforms typically aren't useful to use due to how hard it is to consistently land on the edge. However, this does allow Dustkid to complete Hideout and Peta Difficult.
The more common method of spikewalking is using a 45 degree angled slope. You can easily spikewalk using a slope by using all your air actions, then holding both down and jump. When you hit the slope, your character should jump straight off the spikes. Since you landed on a platform, you will have regained your double jump again.
This technique is usually only useful when going for best time rather than best score, as most useful spikewalks involve skipping dust.