From Dust Review
This game was reviewed on the Xbox 360.
From Dust is a mixed hybrid of a god game and puzzler. You, the player, will control a spiritual entity called the Breath. Your goal is to guide your tribe through dangerous environments and to establish villages at totems which have specific elemental powers that can be used to manipulate the landscape. Completing these tasks will spread lush foliage to the world, bringing wildlife and a safe passage for the tribe to migrate from one level to another.
As the Breath, players will shape the world with three elements: water, lava and sand. From creating rivers to raising mountains from the ground, you constantly gather each resource in a sphere-like container, forming paths or barriers to keep your tribe safe. Each level also introduces abilities that can be harnessed to reach your goal. One example is the ability to evaporate water for a short period of time, which is useful in getting tribesmen across areas that constantly refill with water. Mixing elements adds depth to the gameplay, creating elaborate ways of solving problems that vary from temporarily to drastically changing the level’s environment.
All the while, nature keeps you constantly on your toes. Every second is crucial, as stopping to admire the land formations will result in an unavoidable disaster not even our god-like abilities can undo. Nature and time are your opponents and they act in random and unexpected ways. You could be hard at work building a path for your tribe to settle at another totem, and the next second the level shifts, and sand rises around them. A large body of water rushes down their path, whisking villagers away to the ocean to meet an untimely death.
While the tribe may seem utterly helpless without you, it doesn’t t constantly need your help fending off the forces of nature. Along with the Breath there are stones within the level that your tribe can retrieve, which give them the musical knowledge (read songs), of chants to repel water, lava and fire. This certainly helps lessen the burden of continuously going back and forth between your current objectives and protecting your villages. The chants are especially useful when your well laid plans are disrupted by reoccurring tsunamis and erupting volcanoes.
However, this is where the game breaks down; when time is of essence, it’s hard to forgive the AI choices of paths to travel. You can only set destinations to the portal, totems and stones, but not in between. Then it’s up to the villagers to get there. They normally take the shortest route, usually making their way around just fine. But sometimes (especially in the later levels), they get caught up choosing a path that leads to a cliff or they get stumped by a small puddle of water. When this happens you can expect them to choose another path, sometimes correctly and sometimes a longer or more difficult route that you’re forced to create with an even ground in front of them. This will often frustrate players to deal with both the chaos of nature and the incompetence of man.
The visuals steal the show, mainly due to the great physics engine used. Graphics are especially stunning as you play God, wielding power over the elements and moulding it to your whims. For example, when you grab molten lava to turn into a rock barrier, it’s interesting to watch the igneous rock formations as the fiery concoction cools down. Or when you’re spreading sand across a nearby river, creating a lush forest in what was once a barren desert. On the other hand, pulling the camera back and watching the scale of destruction is just as impressive. Witnessing Mother Nature at her worse as a tsunami hurtles towards your village is breath-taking and a sight to behold, as is watching your tribe chanting to create a water barrier to stave off imminent destruction.
From Dust has a hefty amount of content to offer. Campaign levels can be breezed through in mere minutes or can take up to an hour depending on the size of the world and scope of objectives. There are also challenge levels that expand the length of the game, for those left wanting more after completing the single player mode. These challenge levels demand quick puzzle solving against the clock. After each completion there are online leaderboards that track your time. This mode rewards those who find the quickest and simplest solution to the level.
For a small title, From Dust certainly has a lot to offer. The game literally gives you a God complex, with the ability to wield elements to your every whim. While the AI can be frustrating at times, overall this game is very entertaining – especially if you love a good challenge.
This game receives a 4.0/5.
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