We wish there were a hundred more games like From Dust. In a world overflowing with visceral first-person shooters and gritty adventure games it's an overwhelming relief to be cast back to the 1990s, when god games were all the rage and there was as much emphasis on creation as destruction.
Of course, there have since been titles like LittleBig Planet and ModNation Racers that show how complex creation tools can be used but little that has allowed us to manipulate nature in the same way as From Dust.
From Dust is like Lemmings meets Populous in a child's sandpit. Your job, as god (here known as 'the Breath'), is to help your tribe (known only as 'the Men') to start villages at totem points scattered at different points around a map and, once colonised, get them to a temple to end the level. These totems are not only needed to increase the population of your Men, but to unlock new powers for the Breath too.
At its most basic, your power is the ability to scoop up sand, water or lava and redistribute it around the map like it has spilled from your hand; sand will create bridges for your men to cross, water will allow trees to grow, while lava - when cooled - will create new rock formations.
In early levels it makes your goals relatively straightforward. When fighting against tsunamis, volcanic eruptions, flash flooding and more, working quickly can be paramount to your tribesmen's safety. Then, you will have to employ more limited fantastical powers such as the ability to drain an area of water or to turn it into jelly, or even absorb substances into an all-consuming black hole.
From Dust is a beautifully organic game that encourages you to be a protective, nurturing god rather than a vengeful one (a nice change). It's a delightful way to spend a few hours, almost hypnotising in the way that it simulates how each element reacts with another, and a particularly good way to spend 1200MS points/approximately a tenner.
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A sandbox game in its truest interpretation - nature simulated via a charming strategy game
- A real sandbox
- Great value
- Can be finicky