When you first look at From Dust and if you’re over the age of 30 you’ll immediately think of Peter Molyneux’s Populous; the God game that had you look after your people, spread their colonies and protect them from natural disasters. In many ways From Dust is similar to Populous however the gameplay mechanics are far more simple which is a large part of the game’s charm.
You play as a powerful force called The Breath. I had a French teacher we called that at school but that’s another story. The Breath can direct the tribe to monoliths where they will build a village and also to other stones where they will learn powers that will help you to help them. Once you complete the map you can then send them to the portal that will start the next of the 13 main stages.
So how do you move your masked tribesmen and women around the land? Well, it just so happens you can pick up massive quantities of sand, water and lava with your cursor and dump it somewhere else. So, for example, you can build a massive wall with cooling lava to protect your village from a Tsunami, build bridges with sand through standing water and cool lava with water. Quite often you’ll need to use a combination of these to populate the stage and move on. One extra power which proves to be lots of fun is ‘Jellify Water’ which lasts for a minute. You can then carve out paths through water whilst it’s viscous and go all ‘Moses’ while you tribesmen walk through the middle of the corridor you’ve made.
Mostly the game is relaxing to play but in later levels the ante is upped as you frantically navigate round the map moving solid and liquid to keep up with the natural disasters. It works okay with the Xbox 360 controller but my feeling is this would work much better on the PC when it’s out in September or even on a touch screen device such as an iPad.
Despite the annoying didgeridoo music that you’ll only like if you’re really into Jamiroquai, From Dust is one of those enjoyable XBLA games which should last you a good ten hours or so if you also play the extra challenge maps and try to unlock all the tribe’s ‘memories’ so it gets an excellent 8 out of 10.
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