Released on 27 July 2011 on Xbox LIVE Arcade
, and made available on Steam for the PC on 17 August 2011 (PSN release will be at a later date), designed by Eric Chahi, published and developed by Ubisoft
Montpellier, From Dust
is a God Game, placing the player in the role of an unnamed, unseen god
, tasked with protecting and enlightening a nomadic tribe. To aid this undertaking, the player is capable of manipulating the environment in miraculous ways.From Dust
is notable for its nigh-unprecedented level of environmental detail. Plugging a waterfall with enough earth will cause the rivers resulting from the cascade to dry up. Lakes at the base of a volcano accrue sediment which increases their viscosity. Great tsunami waves will break against rocks and flow realistically over the land. It's also really, really pretty
From Dust uses the following tropes:
- A God Is You
- And Man Grew Proud: One of the unlockable tribal memories reveals that this is what happened with the Ancients. They used their awesome power over the Breath to build themselves a paradise... which became so heavy that it sank into the sea. And that's just what happens to your Men, in the end.
- And here we are, as on the first day...
- Artificial Stupidity: The Men are very, very picky about what they consider flat land. They can run across flat land or gentle slopes but cannot climb steep slopes. The slightest obstacle will often cause them to flip out and take huge detours. And God forbid you try to raise a totem from the water with lava. Unless it's almost perfectly flat, they can get stuck five feet from it.
- Elemental Powers:
- Expy: The Tribe's "language", manner of dress, and belief in everything holding a song is very similar that of Australian aborigines.
- The Faceless: The Men, who all wear masks, male and female alike.
- The masks are actually justified in-game, as they apparently are necessary for the People to play music correctly to manipulate the elements.
- Gaia's Vengeance: The entire game consists of you trying to hold back floods, tides, tsunamis, volcanoes, geysers, and explosive flora.
- The ending is an even more extreme version of this, where Mother Nature has simply had enough of you and tears your entire land apart.
- Giant Wall of Watery Doom: Tsunamis, which appear at regular intervals on some maps to completely ruin your villages.
- Green Thumb: You can uproot and move certain special kinds of trees at will. You can also get the power of the Breath of Plants in the last level, which can cause palm forests to spring forth on the bare earth or recede away entirely in an instant.
- "Groundhog Day" Loop: Every time the Men complete the final ritual and end their journey, they're warped back to where they first began, with no memory of what happened and all their work undone.
- Kill It with Fire: Volcanos and fire trees will put the Men on the receiving end of this very often, especially because any vegetation can instantly catch alight and form forest fires.
- Kill It with Water: When the Men aren't in danger of being flattened by tsunamis, they're often at the mercy of tides or torrential rainstorms.
- Magic Music: The tribe's magic, the Breath included, is based around the music of everything. For example, villages can learn music that will repel water to avoid flooding.
- Nature Spirit: The Breath, essentially an incarnation of the life in all things.
- Patchwork Map: Created by you most of the time.
- Precursors: The Ancients. The Men are their distant descendants, now on the brink of extinction.
- Race Lift: Though the Men are clearly dark-skinned in the game, the promotional adverts portray an individual who is either a very tan white guy or Hispanic.
- To be fair, some of the cut-scenes portray lighter-skinned men as well. However, the vast majority of them are dark. The old men become very white as well, oddly enough.
- Scenery Porn: The environments are absolutely beautiful. It gets even better when you start manipulating the elements and watch the rivers, plants, and even volcanoes all grow, move, and flow on their own.
- Secret Test of Character: In a way, the final level. You're suddenly given many powers that you previously didn't have, so it's almost expected for you to go overboard with them while experimenting, intentionally or not. So it should come to no surprise that nature finds your overuse unacceptable.
- Stuff Blowing Up: The explosive plant, which does exactly what you would expect.
- Sdrawkcab Name: One of the challenge maps, the description being it's a 'well-disguised homage' to the game's inspiration, is named Xuenylom, or Molyneux (from Peter Molyneux, creator of Populous) backwards.
- Terrain Sculpting: Pretty much the entire point.
- Timed Mission: Many of the challenge maps, where the tasks can range from making sure that one of your villagers finds the knowledge to repel water before they're flattened by a tsunami, or laying out a path for your villagers to walk on before the entire island sinks in a massive landslide.
- Normal gameplay has elements of this, too. Certain natural disasters are timed, forcing you to get set up before they hit. Any map with lava is also better to do quickly, because no matter how much you try to redirect the flow, the edge of the flow hardens and makes the drainage ditch smaller, eventually overflowing and forcing you to rebuild. Let this go on for too long and it gets impossible to manage.
- Tomato in the Mirror: The Men ARE the Ancients, just Brought Down to Normal.
- Vicious Cycle: Every time the tribe regains their ancient power, they anger the world by performing the final ritual and end up stranded back on the same windswept cliff over and over, for heaven knows how many times.
- Video Game Caring Potential: The point of the game is to guide and take care of the tribe to protect them from the elements, which means you can divert lava flows and floods away from the villages and several territories have you protect them from tsunamis. However...
- Video Game Cruelty Potential: The player can simply drop water or lava directly on villages to watch them die, so long as they keep at least one village alive at all times.
- One challenge map requires you to destroy a village with lava, to clear a path for water to flow.