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Monday, August 1, 2011

Quick Review: From Dust

Gameplay - 7.5
Ubisoft takes a crack at attempting to revive the “God-game” genre with it’s latest XBL release “From Dust.” In From Dust you play as a God-like figure, “The Breath,” that must assist a tribe in exploring new areas of a desolate world and populating it. As “The Breath” you are exactly that, an invisible figure that can manipulate most of the environments of the world. On screen “The Breath” is presented as a cursor, which can be moved over sand, water, and lava with the ability to absorb and drop the aforementioned substances anywhere on the map. If there is a river that your tribe must cross, for example, you may build a bridge made out of lava or sand in order to allow safe passage. The only major complaint with this style of gameplay is, many times you will be stuck in a dire situation where time is of the essence, you build a bridge to have your tribe cross to a different section of the map and, low and behold, you’re one pixel of lava off! Adding to the lava makes the bridge taller so they still can’t move across it, and there is no way to take the lava away. So your tribe dies - time to start over. Throughout the game your tribe will gain memories. Collecting all the memories will not only give you a history of your tribe but you will also be rewarded with an achievement. Adding sand close to your tribes will add grasslands that spread to every piece of sand on the map as long as they are connected. Filling half of the map and the entire map with greenery will reward more tribe memories but will also put your tribes in danger of wild fires if a volcano is near by. Each totem pole you find will create village on the map, making multitasking a must. The tribe is also very music oriented and finding “knowledge of…” stones will teach the tribe compositions to hold off natural disasters such as tsunamis and wildfires. Overall, the game play is tedious at points, but overall enjoyable.

Story – 5.0
Sadly, From Dust is lacking any kind of compelling story. The tribe is a musically oriented tribe that worships “The Breath,” whom you control, in hopes of populating the lands and controlling the various elements. The idea is pretty straightforward, and extremely repetitive. The game is so repetitive that at the conclusion of each stage the same cut scene replays again, and again, just in case you missed it the first time. Worst of all a narrator speaks in an unknown language that is translated into English subtitles, why? The narrator reveals that the tribe is following the path of their ancestors who have left totems and stones of power throughout the land. What happened to the ancestors, and how they gained these powers is very unclear and you will quickly find yourself ignoring the story all together.

Game Modes/Presentation – 7.5
Aside from the story mode, From Dust offers up challenge modes with a variety of different environmental disasters that you must work around while being timed. This adds to the game-time but is not compelling enough to play more than a few times. Unless you completely loved the story mode, this may be a mode that is skipped all together.

Graphics – 8.5
The environments of From Dust are beautiful and the sand, water, and lava movements all look life-like. It’s graphical downfall is when the map is filled with activity. The game will continue to clip and chop leaving you worried of the possibility of the game freezing and losing all your current progress.

Sound - 6.0
Not much to say in the sound department, airy breezes, rushing water, and erupting volcano fill the sound scape with an occasional tribal beat. I can see how the developers wanted to be realistic, but there is a fine line between realism and boredom.

Online - N/A

Final Score: 7.0
For a downloadable title at a value of on $15, From Dust is worth a shot, but is definitely not the “must have” title of this Summer of Arcade.

Reviewed by David Tadros

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