From Dust is quite the fun game. You play as this divine god, or what the natives call The Breath, an disembodied force that has the power to absorb the major elements of this world: water, dirt and lava. You distribute them to aid the natives in reaching magical totems to build villages and populate the lands. But it’s not all happy dappy super terrific days ahead for these poor natives. They have to deal with tsunami’s, drought, wildfires, floods, and raging lava.
The goal of the game is to make it to populate totems scattered throughout each level to open the door to the next land. Once the natives reach a totem and finish their village making, which what I suspect requires a lot of hanky panky, you are granted an additional power to assist you. The power ups come in a few flavors and each are pretty self explanatory, like Jelly Water for example. It does basically just what you think it might do, turns water into gelatin which can then be scooped out for safe passage by the natives. Each environment has it’s own sets of challenges that will require you use most of the skills and elements given to you.
One early level has you absorb lava to dump along a rock cliff creating a massive wall to stop a tsunami. Once the natives are safe from the tsunami, you can use that totem’s power to jellify the river in front of them so they may pass on to the next totem. What I really like about this game is you don’t have to use the same methods to accomplish your goals. In the example I just gave, I went about it slightly differently. Instead of Jellifying the water, I used the lava to re-route the waterfall supplying that river it’s water. It was a win win because the water re-routed next to the volcano which helped the oozing lava make a safe path away from another village. There is a lot of sense of control in the game that I haven’t had in years and it comes from being able to sculpt the land to your own divine vision. If you wanted, you could just kill the villagers by pouring molten hot lava over them, that’s your choice to make.
The game looks beautiful, watching a tsunamis gain momentum and come right for your village is amazing. When the totem to defend villages against water is active you see the mile high tsunami rush around the village as if it were inside an invisible bubble. When bringing trees across your land, the environments look lush and beautiful, while the dry deserts look harsh and deadly. The detail is in just about everything and it’s appreciated at how much effort was made to make this world feel alive.
You have the story mode where you go through the different lands keeping your natives alive and moving. There is also a challenge mode where you are given certain tasks to accomplish in order to proceed to another challenge. Finally, once you finish the game you have access to a free play level that takes the reigns off and lets you run wild; you can build and destroy to your heart’s content. I wish there would have been an actual free play mode rather than going back to a previous level that had a free play aspect to it. They could have had the free play be another game option at start with maybe some unlocked features added to it for beating the story. There’s also one achievement in this game that is going to be the achievement whore’s nightmare. You have to complete the whole story with a death toll of only 5 villages, not 5 villagers which I had originally thought and called BS on. Still though, ouch.
This game is great fun and scratches that building itch like Legos and sandcastles do, so what are you waiting for, give the game a try then spend your hard earned money on it. It won’t disappoint.
An XBLA code for the game was provided by Ubisoft for Review purposes