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From Dust XBox 360 Review - -
From Dust
Reviewed by
Andrew Bistak
From Dust 360 Review It's definitely the most original game to be released this year, apart from Ubisoft's Child of Eden and I recommend that everyone with an XBox, especially those that enjoy strategy games check this title out.

Gameplay 10
Graphics 9.0
Sound 8.0
Value 10
Distributor: UbiSoft
Review Date:
July 2011
Andrew Bistak


From Dust

Its been far too long between decent "God Games" and just when you thought this genre has gone the way of the Roman Pantheon, UbiSoft Montpellier under the watchful eye of designer Eric Chahi have released From Dust for XBox Live. Not only does it pay homage to the excellent game Populous but it also creates some perfect gameplay for the XBox 360.

More importantly, the hype which surrounded From Dust has finally been justified. Initially I was a little apprehensive as to how a God Game would work on the XBox 360 and fortunately it has been flawlessly implemented on this console with sturdy controls.

The premise behind From Dust is that you play a "god" for a nomadic tribe and with your assistance, you will assist them move from location to location in order to better their world as they follow the ancients to greatness.

There is a great stylised introduction for the game which sees your tribe once again give you life through breath as they play tribal music with didgeridoos to boot!  Once you are given control of their deity, you engage in a small tutorial which teaches you the basics of the game such as movement, control and shaping the world around the tribe.

The idea behind From Dust is pure ingenious and although it seems quite simplistic, as you progress, your god is given more abilities to shape the world around them. The basic goal in the title is to help your worshippers populate a village around a collection of ancient totems that are scattered through the gaming environment.

Once they have established a village around the totem, you can then give them orders to walk through an ancient gateway which allows them to start again in a different part of the world but with more challenges. Thankfully the player is warned about these challenges through the tribe's Shaman which are actually disasters just waiting to happen such as flash flooding or volcanic eruptions.

These challenges are the key to the game and at first I thought this was child's play but when my tribe encountered its first challenge, a giant Tsunami which killed my villagers, I had to start again and rethink my strategies. For example, in order to stop this Tsunami, I had to send a villager to discover an artefact which would allow my villagers to create a "shield" around their village through a musical ritual.

The problem was that my villagers had a time limit before the tsunami would hit and there was a body of water that prevented by tribe from reaching the artefact. The solution was to use my god powers which allowed me to collect earth in a ball and then place it over the water in order to create a new link to the island. This was brilliant gaming!

Essentially preventing these disasters is the key to victory as you desperately attempt to reshape the land for your tribe as you move water, earth and fire. Then to add an element of frustration, your abilities must be used in conjunction with each other because although you can use earth or sand to stop a flash flood, sometimes the floods can wash this away.

One solution would be to use lava which turns into rock and cannot be washed away. If there is an artefact that is surrounded by water, you can use your powers to lift the water into the air and then dispense it elsewhere. If you fail to stop these disasters, you need to restart the level and try again.

Each of your abilities can greatly influence the world where your villagers live and you need to keep an eye on the messages from your tribe. Sometimes your tribe can get stuck if they are caught by a flash flood and if you fail to help them, they may die and each totem that you populate requires a set number of people. These totems can sometimes be in areas that may not sustain life.

For example, if there is a totem in the desert, you can basically turn the desert into an oasis by moving the earth to create a hole and then filling it with water. Even though the stages are relatively short, some can be quite difficult to solve, especially when you have a timer involved. However because the game is so beautifully crafted and the world is a living breathing entity, the gameplay is so perfect that even if you lose, you cannot help but jump straight back into the game. The fault ultimately lied with the player and not the game.

The control system of the XBox 360 does take a little time getting use as you use the shoulder buttons and analog sticks to interact with the island and your tribe. This only becomes an issue when the timer is ticking down and you are valiantly trying to reshape the world to save your tribe but even so, it works quite well on the 360 and can be quite precise at times.

Graphically, From Dust is a beautifully created game with some great attention to detail, especially when you follow one of your tribesmen. Although you can tilt the rotation of the camera, you have two zooms available but generally the closer zoom is the best option as it allows you to keep an eye on the action without it being too claustrophobic and detrimental towards your gaming.

There's some great physics involved in the game, especially the water effects such as the flash flooding or the quite frightening Tsunami.  The only issue with the graphics is that sometimes the frame rate drops. The soundtrack of From Dust also has this really cool tribal theme to it and I loved the use of didgeridoos.

Final Thoughts?

In the end, I have not had this much fun with a strategy game, specifically a god game for a very long time. It's definitely the most original game to be released this year, apart from Ubisoft's Child of Eden and I recommend that everyone with an XBox, especially those that enjoy strategy games check this title out. It's a well made game from start to finish that takes elements from Populous and creates a brilliant successor on the XBox 360. Give it a chance and let the world of gaming open up to something uniquely different.


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