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From Dust


From Dust

ESRB: Everyone - E
Platform: Xbox 360
Category: 3D Gaming, Puzzle, Simulation

From Dust is a game that I want to like. The concept is a sort of distilled Populous, where you reshape the land and move things around in order to expand your tribe. The aboriginal motif is, I have to admit, fricking beautiful, and the atmosphere all fits together. But, on PC at least, the game is definitely not without problems.

Before we deal with said problems, let's see what From Dust does right. As I said, the graphics are great, and the music is simple, ambient, and fits with the aboriginal motif of the whole game. The controls are fairly simple, although they have their problems. The challenges are fine, and the unlockables are mostly fairly easy to find. The difficulty curve is sensible, and, once you've finished the campaign, you get a sandbox mode where you can pretty much build anything. On XBLA, this would be at least an okay product. On PC, however... well, let's get on with it...

...While the controls are fairly simple, the mouselook has a nasty habit of moving whether you want it to or not, the zoom has the problem that it isn't so much zoom as “get closer to the ground”, and ground following camera, mixed with large mountains, can really screw you over. It's also not helpful that, when you want to grab some dirt, you inevitably lock on to the tiny puddle of water that you didn't actually notice was there, and some of the levels are bloom-tastic, in a bad way. Considering that some of the puzzles do require either quick grabbing of dirt or fine control, the floaty mouse and annoying camera look are not helpful.

Also, the game gives itself away as a port when you find that you can't lower or change the graphics settings, only change the resolution, and, while there is a refresh rate changer, it didn't work for me. Perhaps it's all better on a gamepad, but that still sort of defeats the point of it being on PC. Some people may complain about the cutscene between levels being the same one, but, to be honest, this is a sensible use of resources, as most of the story is told in the beginning of each level, and the Dustpedia. Oh, and while we're at it? It's locked at 30 fps. Another sign of shoddy porting.

Finally, we get to something that is neither good nor bad, just not for everyone. The game uses Ubisoft's “new” Uplay DRM/Achievement platform, and, regardless of its lack of multiplayer, does require you to log in to Uplay to play the game. As such, you need internets, and fairly good ones, to play this game, much like RUSE. Obviously, this isn't always do-able.

As such, like I said at the beginning, it's a game I want to like, and, on any other platform except PC, you can quite happily add a couple of points to the overall score. But, on PC at least, Dust doesn't quite push the right buttons for me to consider it the amazing game it could have been.


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