You are the Breath, a nature controlling deity, or probably “power” is a better word to describe how the player is manifested. In From Dust you have the power to change the world, for the better of the people; at least that is the goal. Failing to do so will leave them literally stranded.
[Warning, I just played the trial, but I think I got a good grip of the game anyway]. This game probably goes under the category God-game, since you can control nature on a quite large scale. I haven’t been the keenest of fans of this genre, but this game had something drew me to it. Like what? It looks very good, does not follow the usual frame/template that almost all other games these days and last but not least, the team behind the game, Ubisoft Montpellier, have Eric Chahi in the team. He made a big name with the game Another World, originally released in 1991 for Amiga and Atari.
Playing as a god
As mentioned, you are a nature changing power, but you cannot control the nature and all its powerful forces per se. This is where the co-operation between you and the people comes in. The story, as far as I could understand it, is that the people have lost its knowledge to control and live in peace with nature. With your help they can regain this knowledge, so you set out on a journey to help the people discover more knowledge. This is a clever analogy to the ever-knowledge-thirsty human being.
From Dust resembles the old game Lemmings in more than one way. The goal of a level is to reach the exit with at least a certain number of people. One thing I never fully understood though, was why they have to keep moving, when they have founded a village? A primitive feeling formed this question inside of me. If I have moved through a passage and founded a village and made it safe, why move to another place right away? I guess the answer lies in the above paragraph: probably because the people want to have more knowledge, always pushing forward…
I like to talk about controls, since without good control or gameplay that you feel you are not in “charge of”, a game is not a good game. From Dust has very easy controls; you move the player, visible as some kind of glowing worm, with ease above water, sand and other environments. One small nuisance: sometimes when you want to gather material, it is hard to see exactly where it will be drawn from. I often found myself gathering water, when drawing above sand, although quite close to water.
The actual action in the game is how you change nature and help the people reach different goals. A simple example: The people has to reach the “Passage” so they can continue their journey to new lands and gain new knowledge, but the Passage is located on a piece of land that is cut off by running water. To help the people, you have to gather some solid material (sand) from a place with surplus material and then “dump” it in the water, making a path across. This works quite well in most instances, making the world feel quite alive. If you remove land next to water, then the water will fill that of hollow. There are some instances though where I would have liked to see even more life-likeness in the game, for example: when a village is founded it just appears from the ground. It would have made an even better illusion if the houses and such were built at high-speed (like fast-forwarding a movie).
From Dust is a game for you if you like to reshape nature and control the elements. It is quite cool to see how the world changes when you move material around and the water’s ever-present power is very well implemented. Do not expect a blow-you-away-experience like Eric Chahi’s masterpiece Another World though (unfortunately…). Why not try the trial?
- Platform(s): Xbox Live [version tested], Windows (later this year) & PlayStation Network (later this year)
- Developer: Ubifost Montpellier
- Version: Trial
- Easy to get into
Official launch trailer