From Dust first came to light last year at E3 2010, since then we have been waiting patiently to see if this game could live up to its early hype. We did of course see it in an early preview which convinced us it could be something special, and now that we have our hands on the final build, our minds have not been changed.
As mentioned in our preview, the premise behind From Dust is to guide your tribe through their lives, helping them to survive in the harsh environment and the problems this brings along with it. Throughout the game it’s your job to manipulate the environment to help save your tribe from danger. At first this could be by doing something simple such as lifting sand and dropping it onto the river in order to create a makeshift bridge for your tribe to cross. However, it soon becomes a lot more complicated than that, with different environmental hazards, such as Tsunami’s coming into play, making your life and the lives of your tribe a whole lot more difficult.
On a basic level your main task is to guide your tribe to the totems spread throughout each land, doing this will see them build villages and it’ll also help change the lay of the land. For example, when you build a makeshift bridge from sand, trees and vegetation will grow on top of it, bringing a new lease of life to a once barren land. As well as giving the villagers a place to build, the totems also give you powers, such as the ability to pick up sand, which I mentioned above, as well as the ability to suck up water, while later on you will be able to destroy matter, put out fires and more.
It’s useful that you do have these powers, because as well as guiding your tribe to the Totems, you will also be tasked with saving your tribe, for example, in one level you have to guide a shaman to the opposite end of the village to a magical stone to enable him to gain knowledge of how to stop a Tsunami from destroying the tribe, this involves getting him there by building makeshift bridges on fast flowing rivers and also getting him back again before the three minute timer runs out. Should you not manage, both him and his tribe drown under a large tsunami, which is illustrated wonderfully by a lovely cutscene, while if you do succeed another cutscene will replace this, instead showing your success.
To progress through a level you will need to open up a gateway to the next land. To achieve this feat you must guide your tribe to each totem and build a village there, once this is achieved the gateway will then open, leading you onto the next stage. As you would expect, as you progress through each of the stages, things get a lot tougher. Even though the game starts out with just sand and water, soon you will have to contend with Volcano’s, Tsunamis and also sorts of other dangerous hazards such as fire which will keep you and your tribe biting nails from the beginning, straight through to you finally guide them to the safety of the gateway at the end.
The main beauty of From Dust is without a doubt the way in which you can manipulate and control the elements, although it’s always far from easy. Taking water or sand from one area, may result in another being flooded and unpassable, therefore you are constantly fighting a battle against the elements, and even though you get various items to help you along the way, it’s important that you think about the consequences before you act.
Your tribe are your lifeblood in From Dust, and although you will inevitably lose some of them along the way, you will still be able to progress as long as you managed to keep the majority of them safe. Sometimes this will see you sucking up water in order to stop them from drowning or saving them by stopping fires, which if left can spread, undoing all of your hard work of spreading vegetation and killing all of your villagers, however just remember that keeping them safe is imperative to your success.
As well as the Story Mode, From Dust also throws a Challenge Mode into the mix, giving you 30 levels of purpose-built maps, each of which provides a challenge of around a few minutes for each map at you. Some of these challenges are quite simple, while others place you under a time constraint, which piles of the the pressure even more. The Challenge Mode is a great addition to the game, especially with the addition of the online leaderboards. You will have to unlock the Challenges in the Story Mode if you wish to play all 30 levels, however this is well worth doing because it adds a lot more value to the game.
From Dust is a fantastic looking title, I was expecting it to look good and it certainly does. The environments in which you play in are well designed and very unforgiving. The developers seem to have captured the brutality of nature in a tin and emptied it straight into From Dust. As mentioned the cutscenes are also very effective, giving you a knot in your stomach as you watch you tribe survive or watch as nature takes them away from you.
Whatever way you look at it, From Dust is a very special game, sure it occasionally has its flaws due to the nature of the controls, but overall it’s very hard to fault and best of all, it’ll keep you entertained for as long as you enjoy fighting against Mother Nature.
Rating: Excellent Review policy