From Dust Review
As the most popular types of video games are shooters and racing, Ubisoft has come from dust to bring you ‘From Dust’ – a unique strategy game influenced by similar ‘god games’, such as Pocket God and Spore. Instead of having your enemies as the opposing force, your enemy is nature itself and your mission is to help your villagers grow and survive. From Dust is currently 1600 Microsoft Points on the Xbox Live Arcade.
Story / Gameplay: 8/10
As the game starts, they introduce you to what is known as “The Breath”, which is also known as the cursor that guides the villagers to the safe area. Now this game’s like no other because your enemy is the Earth’s might natural powers that will wipe out your village if you don’t progress through the game fast enough. It irritates me that when you lose a man, it doesn’t hurt you in any way. As long as you have a certain amount of villagers alive, the game doesn’t really care how many people died which is such a fail in the games perspective.
Your main objective is to get the villagers to their exit, which is also referenced as the “passage”. You do this by building passages using the “Earth” or dust – but I just call it sand. However, the villagers never have an easy route to get to their passage which is where the gameplay kicks in. The villagers have to build a village before going to the passage. On their progression to building their village, you have to help them fight off tsunamis, volcanoes, and other natural disasters that can annihilate the villagers. This does become tedious after playing the game for a while and watching the same cinematics for each level don’t really let you take the thing serious.
Replay Value: 9/10
Once you finish the game, you feel the need to go back and play it again now that you know how everything works. Nothing really stops you from playing it again and perhaps trying it on a different console such as on the PC, but there may be some things that might frustrate you when playing again. With that, this game is fun and creates a feeling that these villagers are counting on you to help them survive. The fact that the story takes place waaaay before any of us were born only makes it more fun to watch over your people and see how they progress.
The game looks and feels great. When you witness the volcano erupting or the huge tsunami coming in, you might be distracted away from your people only to witness the ginormous tsunami. The water looks very realistic and picking up sand looks like a giant spherical sand ball. The nature of it is beautiful, but not entirely surprising. You can tell the graphics engine they used was a cheap one and this game looks like it would be able to run on the original Playstation or Nintendo 64. The villagers look like polygon blocks and overall the graphics aren’t at the same level of comparable strategic games.
Theres not much to say about the audio since it’s quiet most of the time. When natural disasters settle in, they sounds pretty realistic, mainly because the villagers freak out. Also, the villagers themselves speak their own language and its fun to hear them freak out or needing help. This is not a primary target in the game, as with most strategy and ‘god games’, but it works the way it needs to.
The controls are merely OK, and can definitely use some improvement. The only variable is the “breath” or cursor that you control and it’s very frustrating trying to pin point the cursor to a totem or the passage because of how sensitive. You can’t even tell when you’re close enough to the destinations because when stopped, the cursor spins around in circles rather than just stay put. Also, most of this is mainly caused because the cursor moves too fast. There’s 3 different camera angles. A third person view, overhead view, and global view and they all operate well, however there’s no point in the third person view other than using it while you’re bored waiting for the villagers get where you tell them to.
Final Thoughts: 8.5/10
From Dust is a great game for 1600 Microsoft Points, mainly because of its unique gameplay. You can choose whether to help these people, or be an evil menace and kill them hilariously. The villagers claim they are not men without the breath (which is you), but it is obvious they can live without your help if they do some work. Having only the powers to pick up and drop things does make the game a little hard and at first, as you would expect more power over the world. But this game is fun to play when your home alone, or with friends watching you play. Check out the video below to see commentary of me playing From Dust the day it was released.