For those who want more brain power behind your downloadable offerings, Ubisoft Montpellier has created a strategy game that will put your tactical alertness to the test.

Ubisoft's offering to the “Xbox Live Summer of Arcade” is a dynamic real-time strategy game where you play a powerful, yet limited god. The objective, protect a human tribe while guiding them across several different scenarios where nature is your enemy. Aside from the hazardous elements like flooding and fire, you will also have to contend with natural disasters like Tsunamis and unrealistic terraforming land. Compared to other games with "natural disasters," Montpellier hits a home run when displaying the awe inspiring power of mother nature.

The concept of “From Dust” comes from French developer Eric Chahi who wanted to highlight a conflict between primitive life battling against evolution. To do this the player takes on the role of a deity. Although you're not playing a god-like hand from the sky, you play a small eel-like form that scurries around the ground. Obligated to save the people you will send them to various locations that usually includes a couple of totems and a magical door that unlocks the next level. Helping you is the god-like power of breath that lets you inject substances and spit them back out. This could be water to stop a fire or spread vegetation, or it could be hot magma to build a wall of rock to protect against water or to provide safe passage to another area. Basically, you manipulate the elements against one another to make safe passage for your little people.

The most interesting aspect about “From Dust” is the unpredictable nature of the elements. For the most part you can somewhat predict the outcome when each element mixes, however each reaction is based on so many variables that anything can happen. This not only makes for some exciting undesired results, it means no two games are exactly the same. While the unpredictable nature of the physics engine can be a bit unruly, it is fun. Patience is key because rarely do things go exactly as plan. This means you have to rethink and apply tactics on the fly. Unlike other strategy games, "From Dust" is truly dynamic and always changing. Depending on your value of real-time mechanics in a strategy title will likely dictate how much you enjoy this game. If anything, it's a fresh take on a genre that has long passed.

The art style of “From Dust” will likely attract some attention. While it's not as bold as some other titles, it has its own distinct look. Art director Bruno Gentile merging the visual style to the content brings out the contrast among elements, the world and the human tribe. The only visual draw back is the long range viewpoint, which makes it difficult to get an exact reading on your human followers. This makes for a few snags in the gameplay, literally. As your acolytes diligently follow your direction they don't always take the most sensible path, or worse off, they get stuck on oddest parts of the world. Standing on the side of a cliff is common practice for these folks, which causes you to needlessly fix their issues. It's such a common problem that it unfortunately takes away from the fluid nature of the game.

Also distracting from the fluid nature is the rushing pace of the game. It would have been nice to have a few minutes to let your people flourish for a while in an area without a constant sense of impending doom. “From Dust” is all go, go, go. No resting here. As you progress through each level the feeling of being rushed continues until it pushes you've turned into a frantic mess. Being so pushy could cause “From Dust” too loose a good chunk of their players before the campaign is over, and worst off before you unlock the sandbox styled level that gives you the freedom it should have had earlier.

“From Dust” is an ambitious title that brings back the lost genre of “god gaming” while adding its own elemental twist. The formula has its issues and can be extremely frustrating, however at the same time it's oddly addictive and rewarding. “From Dust” will please the real-time strategy fans or those looking for an alternative styled puzzle game, but if you are not into either genre, you should look past this conceptually brilliant, yet flawed strategy game.

  • Taking on nature can be exhilarating
  • Unique art style and alternative approach to a “god game”
  • Extremely Challenging, but rewarding
  • Enough content to keep you busy for a while
  • Irregular path finding can become annoying
  • Humans often get stuck on the terrain
  • Difficultly and learning curve is a little too steep
  • No time to chill, its go, go, go!
Quote: "From Dust will please the real-time strategy fans or those looking for an alternative styled puzzle game, but if you are not into either genre, you should look past this conceptually brilliant, yet flawed strategy game."
Reviewed by DowntownJimmy | 08.03.11

Similar Games: A Kingdom for Keflings (8.6)


From Dust


Ubisoft Montpellier


US Release
July '11


Xbox Live Arcade

Players 1
1200 MS Points
1.15 GB