Saturday, July 30, 2011

Uniquely Entertaining--From Dust (Xbox 360 Version)

From Dust (Xbox 360)
There's a new game that you can't buy in a store. No, you have to go to Xbox Live and use 1200 points (around 15 dollars) and purchase this aforementioned game. It's name? From Dust. Is it worth 15 dollars? Yes, with its surreal, fascinating world, and interesting game-play it is definitely worth the cost. Let's break down why.

From Dust has you as the God-like character, "The Breath," an entity with the ability to grab earth, water, lava, and use powers to manipulate the earth for a group of tribes-people. You aid them in their efforts to set up villages and advance to the next world AKA level. You face all sorts of interesting environmental hazards and entities, from trees that cause fire or blow up to ones that spurt water. Through the use of your manipulation abilities and some other snazzy powers the tribes-people hopefully achieve a happy existence in the carefully-balanced ecosystem that you've worked to alter just right. Of course, once everything is perfect its off to the next world/level and its challenges.

In the interest of full disclosure I'm not yet completely finished with the game, I'm about 3/4 of the way through the main story, and have done a lot of the challenges. What's that, I didn't mention those? Oh yes, there are some fun mini-levels with specific parameters and tasks that are often quite puzzling but good fun. The whole game is fun, really, and quite beautiful. For something that takes up 1.5 gigabytes or so on your Xbox 360's memory they sure packed a lot into those files visually. Water moves beautifully, lava flows and solidifies in a magnificent fashion, and the graphics just look great.

Everything isn't perfect though, the game can be a bit annoying in that it will drop you into a place with minimal guidance and just expect you to figure out the right way to go about solving the world/level and its obstacles through trial and error. You could make a horrible mistake and not realize you've screwed yourself out of victory until well into a level, or figure out the right way to finish a level but have again altered things too much and have to start the world all over. The game makes you feel like you're in an open sandbox where you can do whatever you want to solve a level, but generally there is one particular way you're supposed to do things, or when you do have more options there is still a clear method that is the best for solving your challenge.
From Dust is a fun game reminiscent of other titles where you control the Earth, but it's pretty unique unto itself. Despite game-play being frustrating at times it still is good fun, and pleasing to look at. Were it a 40 or 50 dollar game I would recommend it, but at just 15 bucks its unquestionably a great buy. There are retail games that cost many times more that I've gotten less enjoyment from, so don't let the fact you download this game or its lower price tag fool you, this is a full-blown title and great fun.
4 out of 5 stars.

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