Ever wanted to battle Mother Nature? Manipulate the power of a volcano? A tsunami? In the game From Dust you have that opportunity. Put on your thinking cap, Mother Nature is a tricky lady.
In From Dust you are the deity of a small lost tribe of people. They are seeking to reclaim their lands and history with your help. As you play through the game you will unlock the little bits of their past and facts of world.
Controls and Gameplay
From Dust gives you a simple but effective device called the Breath. With the Breath you can pick up dirt, water, or lava and place it where you need it in order to build the world and protect the tribe. The world is introduced and unlocked by maps. Each map will have a set amount of totems that the tribe can build villages around. When the tribe builds a village they unlock that totem's power for you to use. The powers range from Evaporation (making all the water on the map disappear) to Infinite Earth (allows your breath to generate unlimited dirt for a set amount time). Once all the totems for that map are settled by the tribe a final totem is unlocked that allows them to travel to the next map. Another goal for the game is to create conditions on the map to grow vegetation to 100% coverage, creatures appear to help spread vegetation.. Though this is not mandatory to move to the next map, it helps unlock history bits.
While you are working, building land bridges and walls to route lava or water, nature is working against you. Water will erode land, fill once dry basins, and lava will suddenly bubble up, then erupt from a different point around the volcano.
Graphics and Sound
From Dust is a very beautiful game. The water and lava effects are just stunning and very realistic. Well except for the tsunami, the developer, Ubisoft Montpellier, admits they went for a more "visually impressive" tsunami to show the raw power and threat. Visually impressive is a bit of an understatement, when you see it coming you know there are going to be some big changes to your map once it has passed.
The sound is equally impressive. Ubisoft Montpellier even went so far as to record and actual volcano erupting.
From Dust is a very impressive game. From a visual standpoint it's almost a work of art. From a game stand point it is simple in control and learning, but challenging in completion. It is a hard one to nail down into a specific genre. It has elements of a god game, strategy game and puzzle game all rolled into one.
There are only two real faults I can give the game. The first is you really never become attached to the tribe. Your only interaction with them is telling them which totem to go to next. There is no way to make them move any faster to get to those points to unlock powers quicker. This becomes painfully evident when you can see an impending disaster coming and can only sit and watch a village get wiped out.
The second is the brevity of the game. There are 13 maps in the main story and 30 challenge maps. You can get through the main story in just a couple of sittings, which leaves you wanting more. There has been talk of downloadable content being created for From Dust. We will have to wait and see.
From Dust really tickled my puzzle bone. Figuring out how to create and reroute the forces of nature to help or protect the tribe was never so fun or so beautiful. I give From Dust a 4 out of 5.
From Dust is rated E10+, Everyone 10+, for Mild Violence by the Entertainment Software Ratings Board.
From Dust is available now for download on Xbox Live. It will be available for PlayStation 3 and PC later this year. For more information see Ubisoft's From Dust web site.