Xbox 360 Live Arcade Review: FROM DUST

The concept of God, or playing God, is not an entirely new concept to the gaming world, but the newest contender in the frame pulls it off beautifully in this mix of puzzle and God game from Ubisoft.

The concept of God, or playing God, is not an entirely new concept to the gaming world, but the newest contender in the frame pulls it off beautifully in this mix of puzzle and God game from Ubisoft. From Dust casts you the player as €˜The Breath€™. In this role you are able to guide a tribal nomadic people to various maps via openings in the map, in order to be able to get to these openings you have to establish a number of villages. Those, are only the very basic elements of the game, however what makes the game interesting is the ability of the player to literally shape the land around their tribe. Using the left and right triggers you are able to pick up and dispense various materials from the environment, allowing you to even move lava and water to suit your own needs. Reasonably quickly you learn how each material works. How with enough water earth will wear away, how water will cool lava, and how lava given enough chance will set fire to everything it can. You will mess up, a lot, but you€™ll work out what will work eventually. Directing the tribe works in your favour, as you are able to aid them in finding abilities that they use themselves in the form of dance/music, for example diverting water so it doesn€™t touch an established village. In relation to this, establishing villages, apart from being needed to advance in the game, gives you as €˜The Breath€™ various powers. These include anything from a basic ability to carry more material, to jellifying water to stop its flow, or dehydrating the map from water entirely. These however are temporary abilities that recharge, so use carefully. It may sound simple, but trust me, the game will do what it can to piss you off and wipe out the tribe. The elements are very much against you, be it a tsunami or a fire, it is your job to take care of your tribe and get them through their quest. You may think you have been clever in diverting a lava flow with a makeshift wall, but soon enough the lava will build up enough to break its banks and wipe out your village. Of course by €˜you€™ I mean me, that was one of the most infuriating moments so far that I€™ve had with the game. The game will anger you at some point or another, but in a sense that€™s a good thing, speaking personally it has made me all the more determined to make it work next time, my stubborn streak is in full gear. It can be frustrating at times, especially when you can see something is about to happen or already is, and you can€™t fix the problem fast enough. At later levels it will only get more frustrating, but don€™t let this put you off, you€™ll feel a sense of achievement at the end of it all. Your tribe, apart from directing them to objectives, you have little control over. They will bumble about to the best of their ability, but as soon as they decide they cannot get somewhere, regardless of if everyone else has managed it, they will let you know. This can get a little annoying when you€™re trying to save them from an untimely doom and they decide the best route to take is on the edge of a volcano, but there is nothing to do but hope they survive. Taking all of this into consideration, it is a game that tempts you back, while you try and work out where you went wrong you€™re bound to come up with some ingenious plan. Whether it gets thwarted or not will only be seen in practice. As I said, you will mess up, your tribe will be wiped out, but you can start the stage over again. In restarting a stage I have found only one thing that I would say is a negative, that you cannot skip the cut scene regardless of whether you have seen it or not. A relatively minor thing, but annoying when you just want to get back into the game. For all its frustrations, From Dust is a beautiful, engaging and rather unique game. Manipulating the environment rather than characters is a nice change of pace. The look of the game will draw you in, however the complexities of the puzzles, and an AI that refuses to work as efficiently as you want will either draw you in or turn you away, it will be an entirely personal choice. Ultimately it is a game of patience coupled with quick thinking, not an easy combination at the best of times but soon you get into the rhythm of things. It is not an easy game, but it isn€™t impossible either. Out now as part of the Xbox Live Summer Arcade, From Dust is priced at 1200 MS Points.

Harriet Jones hasn't written a bio just yet, but if they had... it would appear here.