Review: From Dust

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By Kristofer Hammer

Without any prior knowledge of this game, one might assume it to be an agricultural simulator, however,  From Dust essentially serves as the answer to the question posed in Joan Osborne’s “One of Us”: What if God was one of us?

If you have ever played one of the many God simulators, you might think that he was a cold hearted killer who only finds pleasure in electrocuting hobos, but that is not the case with this game. Your task here is to guard and guide your own personal tribe to designated totems in an attempt to dash to the portal, which allows you to progress to the next level.

The main objective of the story is to find a suitable place for these people to inhabit. However, I find that this clearly cannot be the case since the very first level features no natural disasters of any sort and is a very comfortable environment for them to want to live in.

Story is not actually vital to this game, although it is a nice deterrent and adds some backdrop for why you have the powers you do. In this regard you don’t play God, but rather play an ancestral spirit imbibed with inherit abilities.

What is the daily dose of God like in From Dust? Fortunately, due to a very non-complex and easy to follow user interface, there is not a lot of unnecessary information being thrown at you like you might see in other games (such as a variety of abilities or resources).

Your primary knowledge comes from the various totems you have inhabited throughout the game, along with their abilities,  any impending natural disasters including tsunamis or volcanic eruptions and vegetation, which is a concern for certain objectives in the game but mostly for these unlockables.

The way you play the game is simple: you use either your mouse or the WASD keys to move your character who looks like a golden snake and you use the left mouse click to pick up resources and the right mouse click to drop them. Given this simple gameplay mechanic, your objective is also easily comprehendible, though as the game goes on this becomes increasingly more difficult and complicated to carry through.

At the onset of a level, you will notice various obstacles in the way of your tribesmen as they try to reach the totems, meaning that you need to use the surrounding resources to correct the problem.

For example, say there is a lake between point A and B, so pick up some sand and plop it right on the water to create a sand bridge. When sand won’t work in later levels try lava to create rock roads or walls or even use water to douse flames and grow agriculture.

The beauty of the game is in the varied ways anyone can attempt to solve any given problem, all the while having the same objective.

The only major problem with this particular game is that it is not nearly long enough to allow players to complete the entire single-player experience (although there are several challenge maps), and there is a significant spike in difficulty near the last third of the game that becomes extremely troublesome to overcome in a way previously unexperienced by the player. Despite this, From Dust takes a visually and objectively creative twist on the God-game genre and is worth a try.

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