From Dust
Gamescom 2010: From Dust First Impressions - Divine Intervention
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Formerly known as Project Dust, From Dust is a game that pretty much would have stolen the whole show if it hadn’t been for that little thing known as Bioshock Infinite. Of course, when you then realise that this title is merely - if you can put it that way – going to be an Xbox Live Arcade title, then what has been accomplished here already becomes even more impressive.

The majority of people will still have no idea what From Dust is and what it represents in terms of the future quality of the XBLA service, as when a game can look this good on the XBLA platform, then other titles really have no excuse. Famed creator of the 1991 Another World and From Dust’s Creative Director, Eric Chahi, was on hand to guide us through a game that should be on everyone’s list. To say he got a bit excited is an understatement, but then again, so did everyone else so we’ll forgive him this time.

At the most basic level, which would be missing the point entirely, you could say From Dust is a god simulator, as you are given the lofty position of looking after a string of tribes and ensuring their wellbeing. Obviously any tribe worth their salt can expect the perennial threat of tsunamis, volcanoes and earthquakes to trouble their day, so the question is: what are you going to do about it? The answer is to sculpt the world as you see fit in order to look after your charges.

The technology on show was simply jaw dropping, as you can pick up a ball of water from one place and then use it to create a river or a pool in another. You can sink earth to create a stream, grab molten rock to create land, and then roll up a bunch of trees to create some lush woodland. The simplicity behind the controls is astounding and the breadth of options at your disposal is staggering; not to mention the realistic way that the land and water responds to your interaction. Every alteration is realistically depicted, such as plants propagating and erosion taking place when you place water; the whole thing is gorgeous to look at.

The only thing you cannot do is create caves through the landscape, but considering what else is at your disposal, that seems like a trivial complaint. It is hard to do the breadth and scope of the game justice with mere words. Suffice it to say that when Eric sneakily showed us the ability to tear up a whole chunk of land, we watched, jaws dropping, as water streamed off the edges. It was plain to see exactly how easily this game could draw people in.

The basic mechanics are very simple: you look after a tribe on an island, helping them to find new abilities and building them a safe haven. As you get more successful, you will then gain access to other tribes on an island, and might try to do the same for them. Help out enough tribes and you will be able to migrate them to a new location and begin the challenge anew. The overall aim is to reach a mythical safe haven where all of your tribes will be protected from the constant struggles of day to day life.

Your villagers can be given simple tasks to do and will follow your commands fairly diligently. You can uncover various rocks to grant them powers over water, earth and so on, but in order to activate them, you have to guide a villager there. A simple click will do the job, but any red lines on their otherwise green path hints at trouble, and you will have to sculpt the path to help them out. Want them to have a shortcut back? Just take away the earth under their feet and they will be washed down the river towards the village, where you can build some land ahead of them for them to wash up on and begin to trek the short distance back. It is a simple concept, but one that offers so many opportunities for invention.

The powers that your tribe gain also directly affect your abilities as well. If the tribe has power over water, then they can fend off a screen dominating tidal wave – which would have otherwise obliterated the village – and watch as the water slowly ripples out over the land instead. As the village deity you can then briefly freeze water and mould it to whatever shape you desire. Each power brings with it a specific perk and you can guarantee that they will all come in handy.

Unlike most god style games, there will be no technological advancement and a bare minimum of weather patterns. Your tiny towns will be impacted by natural disasters, but the real emphasis is on having fun and just interacting with the villagers and landscape. At such an early stage there is plenty of refinement to be made, including a final decision on how the campaign mode (for want of a better word) will play out and the addition of wildlife to each island. There are no plans for multiplayer or co-op though, so put that out of your mind for now, as the team are very much focused on getting the core gameplay right. What has been promised is that each location will offer its own share of unique challenges and options.

It is safe to safe that Ubisoft Montpellier are very proud of what they have here, and so they should be, but things are still at an early stage yet. We can only hope that the finished product has the same scope and potential as this tantalising teaser did – as we will all be in for something a little bit special if it does.

From Dust is scheduled for a March launch on the Xbox Live Arcade.


User Comments

Forum Posts: 992
Comment #1 by ViRaLuNdEaD
Tuesday, August 31, 2010 @ 01:11:49 PM
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Reminds me of the old game Actraiser.

Forum Posts: 24
Comment #2 by Rogue Gamer 23
Tuesday, August 31, 2010 @ 01:13:24 PM
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this is starting to get my attention for some reason, seems to becoming good.

Forum Posts: 1593
Comment #3 by H0p3sfalL
Tuesday, August 31, 2010 @ 01:13:51 PM
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never heard of this.....

Forum Posts: 128
Comment #4 by dark wing
Tuesday, August 31, 2010 @ 01:14:20 PM
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This is going to be a XBlA game wow also not to be that guy but i'm pretty sure it's safe to say.

Forum Posts: 30
Comment #5 by terrett101
Tuesday, August 31, 2010 @ 01:18:52 PM
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I am beyond excited about this game.

Forum Posts: 291
Comment #6 by ViNyLek
Tuesday, August 31, 2010 @ 01:26:50 PM
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Sounds pretty unique and accessible for anyone. But with a game this interesting and good looking, you have to starts wondering, how much will the want for it?? Unless it is terribly short we might see another price tag of $40 slapped across as was the case with DA:A...

Forum Posts: 64
Comment #7 by Eliasmcfly
Tuesday, August 31, 2010 @ 01:48:48 PM
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The dev diary looks really neat.

Forum Posts: 1
Comment #8 by Darth Raver
Tuesday, August 31, 2010 @ 01:59:53 PM
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Sounds alot like populos

Forum Posts: 35
Comment #9 by Hobbes.
Tuesday, August 31, 2010 @ 02:24:55 PM
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so you have all these powers and you have to just help the villagers? i want to blast them with tsunamis when they disobey and wipe out whole villages that become too powerful. even rip off the land beneath the village of some of the nastier people

Forum Posts: 20
Comment #10 by PhoenixTemplar
Tuesday, August 31, 2010 @ 02:43:59 PM
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@8 I agree. Not that that is a bad thing. I'm super excited for this game. Looks amazing.

Forum Posts: 30
Comment #11 by terrett101
Tuesday, August 31, 2010 @ 02:55:54 PM
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@6 It's an XBLA game, not a full game or an expansion. It lacks the gameplay elements or length of any full title. 1200 MSP max, can't imagine any other situation.

Forum Posts: 360
Comment #12 by Justin Case
Tuesday, August 31, 2010 @ 04:01:46 PM
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I thought it was going to be a retail game, it just looks too good.

Forum Posts: 300
Comment #13 by toonsage
Tuesday, August 31, 2010 @ 05:50:21 PM
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Hopefully it stays at 1200 and not go upwards in price

Forum Posts: 33
Comment #14 by In Flames
Tuesday, August 31, 2010 @ 09:27:18 PM
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hopefully there will be a lot to do in this game, otherwise it will get old fast.

Forum Posts: 19
Comment #15 by BeachBosh
Tuesday, August 31, 2010 @ 10:18:38 PM
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looks really nice for the platform, ill try it

Forum Posts: 38
Comment #16 by Kroesis
Wednesday, September 01, 2010 @ 05:57:51 AM
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One to keep an eye on.

Forum Posts: 5
Comment #17 by HooolaHovito
Wednesday, September 01, 2010 @ 07:59:57 AM
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This could be a great game. I think i'll watch it just like @16 said.

Forum Posts: 4
Comment #18 by Krebbers
Wednesday, September 01, 2010 @ 08:12:48 PM
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Looks great, definately gonna give this a try when it's out.

Forum Posts: 176
Comment #19 by Dredgon
Wednesday, September 01, 2010 @ 10:07:39 PM
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Those graphics are astounding, this looks sick, definitely gonna keep my eye on this one!

Forum Posts: 141
Comment #20 by Rastaman20
Thursday, September 02, 2010 @ 12:11:47 AM
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looks kool

Forum Posts: 205
Comment #21 by Zacry072
Thursday, September 02, 2010 @ 02:42:07 PM
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This reminds me of some game...I think it was called Populous? You had a shaman and had to do crap.

Forum Posts: 275
Comment #22 by DarnedCargo
Thursday, September 02, 2010 @ 03:34:44 PM
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From what i've been hearing and seeing this is going to be a great XBLA title if its as good as its supose to be it could get a GOTY vote? who knows??

Forum Posts: 0
Comment #23 by stealthykill213
Thursday, September 02, 2010 @ 04:21:44 PM
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what kind of gameplay is it going to have?

Forum Posts: 19
Comment #24 by Pyroblaze992
Thursday, September 02, 2010 @ 11:49:38 PM
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I will bet its a short game to be that intensely graphically designed of a game and also theres a low chance its staying @ 1200...too much work to be worth 15$

Forum Posts: 27
Comment #25 by shadowfeeder
Friday, September 03, 2010 @ 03:25:40 AM
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Looks like Populous, except the tribes are friendly instead of enemies. =)
Could be fun!

Forum Posts: 121
Comment #26 by Sk8er_0208
Friday, September 03, 2010 @ 10:26:15 AM
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I though this game was being developed by the guys who made EVE, also though it was going be full retail game.

Forum Posts: 8
Comment #27 by reclaimer8265
Friday, September 03, 2010 @ 01:51:11 PM
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This looks awesome, but I don't have a good taste in my mouth after the last couple "god" games I tried. Hopefully the demo will be a good representation to see if it is worth my money.

Forum Posts: 0
Comment #28 by daltonVader91
Friday, September 03, 2010 @ 11:40:19 PM
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Not into "god" games at all. But this thing has my attention for some reason... gonna try and keep my eyes this one in the coming months.

Forum Posts: 126
Comment #29 by I Redbush I
Saturday, September 04, 2010 @ 05:33:20 AM
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this is the kind of game that the free trial was made for, dont know much about it but looks amazing and has an interesting premise to it. definitely will try it out when its available

Forum Posts: 372
Comment #30 by TheDeceiver35
Saturday, September 04, 2010 @ 01:34:56 PM
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Wow this looks really awesome, I hope it turns out as good as it looks.

Forum Posts: 0
Comment #31 by lordozma
Sunday, September 05, 2010 @ 10:49:13 AM
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An XBLA game with graphics to rival things like BioShock, Fallout 3/Fallout: New Vegas, with an RTS feel to it that requires you to think on your feet? Very nice indeed, seems to tick a whole number of checkboxes. Depending on price, if it keeps to a maximum of 2400 MSP, it should be quite good. Wouldn't mind a review of it. Will keep my eyes on this one.

Forum Posts: 46
Comment #32 by xtkbilly
Sunday, September 05, 2010 @ 05:32:53 PM
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Sounds like a bit like Black & White, and a bit like Kingdom of Keflings (though I suppose they are basically the same). Though more of an emphasis on "sculpting a world" rather than "build this building for this".

Forum Posts: 755
Comment #33 by l.maciver
Sunday, September 05, 2010 @ 06:37:32 PM
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#8, im surprised anyone remembers that game, i loved it.

Forum Posts: 2
Comment #34 by eunhathes
Monday, September 06, 2010 @ 08:53:00 AM
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@8: Hell yeah, Populous. I played the everloving shit out of that game. Seems this is something in the same vein, but more passive. Less "good" vs "evil".

Wonder if they could do a Cake Land skin for DLC?

Forum Posts: 1
Comment #35 by storvolleng
Tuesday, September 07, 2010 @ 02:27:08 PM
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i think this game sounds very interesting and much like the game popoulous as stated above:P looking forward for it.

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US July 27, 2011

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