Impressions: From Dust

By Alec Meer on July 27th, 2011 at 9:47 pm.

With the PC version of Eric Chahi’s god-game delayed by a few weeks, I’ve opted to sully my body and mind with the now-out Xbox version in order to get a sense of what we’re in for. I promise I washed my hands afterwards. I can’t tell you anything about the PC take on From Dust’s performance or controls or DRM, and nor can I until I’ve spent good hours with that version, but I can give you a sense of how it plays presuming it’s broadly unchanged from its console cousin.

I’m apparently just over halfway into the story mode (the only other option is ‘Challenge’, which I’ve not explored yet – there isn’t a dedicated sandbox mode, unless it’s unlocked at the end of the game), but the game’s tendency to introduce new abilities and challenges every level means I’m quite sure I haven’t seen all its mechanics as yet. Who knows what landscaping surprises remain up From Dust’s sleeve? At this point, though, I’m trying to reconcile the idea of a highly flexible game of terraforming and omnipotence the trailers had seemed to sell me with the reality of From Dust. That reality is closer to a puzzle game with fairly pre-determined answers, but the option to wander off and experiment with the minutiae of terraforming, rather than unleash its bigger picture.

Fundamentally, it’s a game about earth-moving – dumping clumps of earth to build ridges and hills, or hoover away parts of the ground then fill them with water to form lakes. Only in selected areas, mind, and random landscaping won’t achieve your objectives. These objectives aren’t urgent, with the game largely happy to let you play at your own pace, but they are specific if you want to reach the next level, and the powers and challenges it’s likely to contain. The challenges also demonstrate how limited your powers are. Turns out you’re more a demi-god, or perhaps some kind of divine janitor, than a god-god. There’s not a lot you can do about oceans or mountains, and in fact it’s only the fast-cooling lava that’s offered me a truly profound degree of terraforming so far – even then, only one level as yet has included it.

Instead, you’re called upon for tasks such as constructing specific pathways across lakes your tribespeople must cross or coax water over to a desert to help palm trees grow. Puzzles must be solved in broadly the way it wants you to solve its puzzles. Lateral thinking won’t beat them. At times, this inflexibility can grate, but to its great credit From Dust is careful to adjust its parameters each level. On one map, water is your friend, your defence against raging fires. On the next, it might your worst nightmare, drowning village after village. Without ever actually breaking its own rules, From Dust is supremely clever at mixing its few but strong elements up.

What isn’t there, not truly, is the freedom to be a divine psychopath. Dammit, I want to unleash collossal disaster, not just instantly drown a village of five near-silent men! I want to remake the world in my image! Literally my image – I want my followers worshipping around my great rock nose, seas swirling inside my monstrous eye sockets, flame belching from my titanic mouth…

…I want a different, or at least more dramatic game to the one that is in front of me, which means I’m offering absolutely worthless criticism when I call for those things. I suspect I won’t be alone, of course, From Dust may well prove a victim of its players’ expectations – because it’s made by the guy who made the revered Another World, because it appeared to be the long awaited return of god games in the Populous vein and, frankly, because the likes of Minecraft, Terraria and Wurm Online mean we’re starting to become rather accustomed to extraordinary degrees of sandbox construction/destruction freedom. On console, that might not be so much of a problem for From Dust, and indeed it’s rather more likely to stand out as something bold and alternative amongst all those action games and retro remakes. On PC… well, we’re well aware of both the past and present of world-shaping games. Poor old From Dust, gentle thing that it is, has so much to live up to. For that reason, try to go in with a mind more open than yours might be inclining towards. You’ll get much more from the game if you do.

Because From Dust does offer wonder, and a more gentle kind of omnipotence. While the key-in-lock nature of level progression in what I’ve played so far – reach every pre-set totem on the map, found and maintain a village at each, then an exit unlocks – is a bit of a let-down, there is nothing to stop you ignoring the objective and indulging yourself with a little quiet design and speculative experimentation. You’ll rarely have vast amounts space to play with, but you do have water physics, and that alone achieves far more than space could. A small pile of earth in the right – or wrong – place can have immediate and dramatic effects, turning a stream into a river, a valley into a lake, a spring into a waterfall, a beach into an estuary or series of tree-flocked peninsulas, a happy village into a drowned nightmare. Right now, I’m playing to get through, but I know I’m going to come back simply to indulge myself, to endlessly answer the never-closing question that is ‘what happens if I do this?’

The spells offer even more answers to this question, though their primary purpose is to best the puzzles. The basic mechanic is suck up and spit out earth, water or occasionally lava, but slowly the game introduces more specific and outlandish powers. The one that temporarily turns water into a jelly-like substance is an esoteric treat that lets you temporarily sculpt fluid into towers and valleys, as well as being a life-saver should you be met with an oncoming tidal wave. I’ve just been introduced to a vortex of destruction that permanently removes whatever matter I hoover up, rather than merely relocating it, and I’m crossing my gnarled fingers that the inverse – a matter creation spell – awaits me later. Then it’s on. Then it’s on. Other spells, such as Evaporate or Extinguish Fire do speak to the fixed and often timing-based nature of the puzzles, however – they’re clearly there only as solution, not as world-shaping tool.

When you do turn to beating the puzzles – and on some maps, scripted, looped disasters mean you pretty much have to get right on with it – you’ll feel assaulted, cornered and fighting for your life. Except there are no enemies as such in From Dust. Your foe is simply implacable nature – sometimes manifesting as simply and understandably as the disastrously changed course of a river in response to your digging, but on the least likeable levels nature all too clearly is a machine. The oceans rise on a timer every two minutes, or fire-trees cyclicly set alight anything within range. The mood turns frantic, and the last thing you’ll feel like is a god. Quick thinking plus defence on multiple fronts is increasingly required to survive.

For all the dreamy aesthetics, it’s not an unfocused game, nor is it as quiet as all that rock and water suggests. Even when you’re just indulging in some ambient noodling, and even though your followers aren’t anything more than a handful of automated couriers you cannot interact with directly, the game never feels placid, empty or lifeless. It’s the undulating, shapeable land, the slowly spreading vegetation and the gentle fire-fighting of nature’s tireless onslaught that lends it life, not some little dudes wandering around. They are all but nothing to you. Your interest is the land, not its occupants. Still, I did crave more interaction on that front, some way to have them do more than walk from fixed point A to fixed point B. Animals also turn up if you sprinkle earth and water around in such a way that palm forests spread – that extra visible movement, that sense of building a better world, of having succeeded in bringing life to the wasteland, is more akin to the game I’d imagined From Dust to be, but these abstract beasts aren’t anything more than ambulatory scenery.

So it’s not the grand god-game I thought it was from the trailer, it’s not the Populous sequel we’ve waited so long for and it’s certainly not another Another World – at least, not yet. I hear tantalising talk the last level finally opens up its sandbox veins fully, which is something I shall absolutely persevere for. It is often, however, a pleasant waking dream of a game, and one that rewards the careful observer, thoughtful designer and measured experimenter far more than it does the wannabe old testament deity. It is much smaller in scope and less dramatic than perhaps I’d hoped, but from what I’ve seen it is a game whose existence I entirely welcome and from which I expect to derive far more than my so far rather superficial experiments have yielded.

I’m also very keen to see how it looks and feels on PC. There’s a muddiness to the 720p 360 version and the relative crudity of a gamepad doesn’t allow me to swoon and sway the camera as I’d like, to admire my creation and destruction from quite the right angles. Its dusty yet water-locked environments and abstract, distorted organic denizens could well become truly beautiful on a crisper display. So, more soon.

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91 Comments »

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  1. Wodge says:

    I was worried it would turn out like this, after Peter Molyneux’ claims of being able to do “ANYTHING” in Fable 2 and quite obviously you cannot, I think I’ll wait for a steam sale or something.

    Shame.

    • apu1212 says:

      Agreed. Considering the mess this will probably end up being at the PC launch with the wonderful DRM and such, its worth waiting. Even disregarding those, I still consider this a game I’ll get in a few months for 5 dollars or so. Not like there’s a lack of upcoming games or anything : )

    • Reapy says:

      Wasn’t this story like the game was originally just a tech demo of a graphics engine and they decided to cram a puzzle game into it because they couldn’t figure out how to utilize the technology.

      Forget sandbox, what they need in this is a multiplayer mage dueling game. Blow the crap out of the terrain, reform it trying to crush your foe, snap up walls to prevent a deluge from drowning you and sweeping you out to sea. This tech will let you do all sorts of crazy ass elemental ‘magic’ trying to kill one another. I’d snap it up in a heartbeat.

      Instead the preview trailers show us some crappy ass tribal people while you maneuver this big ugly ball thing around. The only redeeming thing about it IS the tech demo behind it. It is sad to see that first impressions appear that the game lives up to its disappointing technology.

      I guess it is probably too much to hope for some modability and access to the genuinely cool tech behind it.

    • Commisar says:

      you do know this game only costs 15 dollars, and from Giantbomb’s review, contains over 8 hours of good gameplay

    • gwathdring says:

      @Reapy
      That makes me think of the premise behind Magic: The Gathering, unshackled from the trading card game. Which is totally awesome.

    • Urthman says:

      In other words, Reapy, someone needs to use tech like this to remake Magic Carpet.

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    • Item! says:

      Thanks to XKCD, Reapy now has me pondering ass-elementals.

      Thanks

    • badoli says:

      So the problem of the game is that everybody thought it is Populous?

    • Melmoth says:

      Well, it sounds like it IS Populous, but without the really cool abilities and the quest-system from Black&White. I guess I’ll be taking out the old SNES when I’m home …

    • Sigh says:

      “So the problem of the game is that everybody thought it is Populous?”

      No the problem with the game is that it is boring, which one can even discern from the trailers. I don’t quite get why everyone’s expectations were so blown out of proportion about this game. Despite most video game sites making some correlation to “God games” when you watch any trailer or demo you can easily observe that it is just moving around balls of shit in a somewhat attractive environment.

      I will take Minecraft any day over this game and they compare in price too!

  2. The_B says:

    I’ve got to say, the controls so far on the Xbox version have close to infuriated me, especially when a lot of the tasks seem to demand a precision (or at least the inept pathfinding of the AI) that’s not really beneficial to a joystick control. Especially when I’ve got a massive amount of material in hand which actively obstructs my view of the cursor as to where to drop it again.

  3. Wulf says:

    I just wish I lived in a world where cool things could happen, unburdened by the more insane edges of capitalism. Such as Lionhead outsourcing Black & White 3 to Paradox for them to make.

    • Premium User Badge

      Mo says:

      I actually think that the best team to do B&W3 is Lionhead. I still think Molyneux has it in him, he just hasn’t been given the opportunity to shine. Give the man a massive budget, a couple of years, and the PC as the target platform, and I think the team at Lionhead could make something as magical as their debut game.

    • TillEulenspiegel says:

      It’s hard to say with Molyneux. He doesn’t lack for ambition, certainly. But that’s the easy part. Ambitious ideas are a dime a dozen.

      The hard part is design. Is Molyneux any good at design? I dunno. Bullfrog did great things, but that was a long time ago. I don’t think he quite has the ability to translate his lofty vision into concrete, achievable goals, which is pretty damn important.

    • Premium User Badge

      Mo says:

      Like I said, I think Molyneux has it in him, now more so than before.

      Bullfrog/early-Lionhead Molyneux had an idea for a game, and then layered on a bunch of batshit ideas, and just ran with them, with little regard to an overall vision. This was magic, but maybe not as coherent and thought-out as we’d have liked.

      Present-day Molyneux has an idea for a game, designs around the core ideas, and creates something coherent & accessibly, but kinda bland.

      Imagine taking a bit of the old, and a bit of the new. Letting Lionhead loose with the same kind of batshit ideas and randomness from their early days, but with the added benefit of (somewhat) responsible planning, and a focus on core ideas.

    • Kaira- says:

      What Molyneux needs is someone to… well, I don’t know if guide is too heavy word, but “lead” him to better decisions and finish.

    • Xercies says:

      No a lot stronger then that, he needs someone to implement his ideas, but able to go to him and say. “This idea won’t work, or makes this to bland/unfocused/whatever” I’m going to change it.

    • Kamos says:

      What Molyneux needs is for someone to take away all his money, give him a keyboard, slap him behind his head and tell him to stop being a rockstar and get his game together.

    • OJ287 says:

      Peter Molyneux = George Lucas?

    • woodsey says:

      Molyneux needs to be locked in an office space with all of his designers and not allowed anywhere near the public eye for the entirety of the development cycle.

      His problem is that he blows his load on every single thing he thinks of whilst sitting on the toilet, runs to tell everyone whilst his trousers are round his ankles still, and proceeds to forget to wipe his arse and flush. Or some other metaphor like that.

    • Tacroy says:

      Molyneux needs to be chained to Steve Jobs. One guy always has great ideas and half asses them, the other guy won’t let half-assed ideas leave the building.

    • Premium User Badge

      Lambchops says:

      Molyneux needs a dollar, dollar. Dollar is what he needs.

      Did I do it right?

  4. The Army of None says:

    I was really hoping for, as mentioned, a new Populus type game. Still will probably pick this up, though.

    • Commisar says:

      eh, sorry to say it, but that game genre has almost died out completly

    • Kamos says:

      Don’t worry. Populous will be coming back in 2015 as a cover-based, scripted FPS with regenerating health and a strategic overlay true to the franchise that EVEN old fans can relate to.

    • The Army of None says:

      Kamos, Commissar… you two make me sad :(

    • Shadowcat says:

      Kamos: I’m just glad I wasn’t drinking anything when I read that.

  5. mkultra says:

    I had expectations for this game, and they were not high.

    • Teddy Leach says:

      Same here.

    • McDan says:

      Same here, which is why I was completely taken by surprise by how good the demo was that I bought the game immediately afterwards and have been thoroughly enjoying it. If you like these kinds of games (although saying that, I’ve never played one like it) then I’d recommend it. It’s great fun,with relaxing landscaping mixed with frantic rushes to combat incoming disasters like erupting volcanos or tsunamis.

  6. Ravious says:

    Yeah, I am a little more disappointed. It still sounds neat for $15.

    • Commisar says:

      I know, check out GiantBomb.cm for a more in depth review, plus they said it has 8+ hours of good gameplay

    • Monkey says:

      Yep this has got “Steam sale” written all over it

  7. pakoito says:

    Looks like the game just meets expectation, an Xbox Live! title for fun and joy and lack of depth.

  8. N says:

    Just go play Black & White 1 guys.

    • Premium User Badge

      Diziet Sma says:

      They’re not the same game, and revisiting either of the black & white games is not a practice I can endorse; having done so myself every now and again just to be disappointed.

      Revisting populus 2 is a different matter if you can get past what in retrospect is a horrific interface. :P

    • N says:

      The Beginning is the most spectacular: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1MHErNkaKwY&feature=watch_response

      Man that game was fun, the whole feel of those “planetoid” maps was great.

    • PickyBugger says:

      Black and White 1 was a pretty decent game apart from the damn AI cheating but I can’t manage to get past the forced tutorial that you have to sit through every damn time you start a new game. Christ that thing drags on taking what seems like hours to explain simple things such as zooming in. Why oh why would you put that crap in your game unless you were intentionally trying to make it less accessible or to reduce the replayability.

      Oh I’d forgotten how fun Populous was.

    • Premium User Badge

      Diziet Sma says:

      O.o I’d totally forgotten about that game! Thanks for the video.

    • Wulf says:

      Black & White 1 was amazing, unfortunately some people played it wrongly, which lead to weird demands which screwed up 2, which in turn lead to 2 being played even more wrongly and thus perceived to be a bad game. The first was magnificent, the second was good but lacklustre. If you play it as just a straight up strategy game or god game then you’re doing it wrong. It’s about looking after your people and pet as a gestalt, it’s about encouraging their survival. It’s sort of like what Nintendogs would be if Lionhead developed Nintendogs.

      That’s not to say that Black & White 1 isn’t a good god game, or even a good strategy game, it’s both, but it’s more that it transcends the genre and brings in other things like creature management and, again, nurturing your people and encouraging their own survival. You have to keep all this in mind when playing Black & White. If you play it as purely a strategy game, purely a god game, or even purely a creature manager, then you’re going to miss out on part of the game’s experience and just not get it.

    • wu wei says:

      Wulf: could you give it a rest with your constant admonition of “they’re playing it wrong!” when people express a dislike over titles you enjoyed? You say it’s “both” a “good god game” and strategy, but to me it felt like a handful of poorly implemented ideas that didn’t interact all that well. I don’t know of anyone among my peers who found it satisfying.

      No doubt we would all have enjoyed it more if the giant animals were people.

    • Jimmy says:

      Cheers Wulf. I agree B&W is the brilliant concept game, while its sequel is somewhat of a surrender to the strategy game market. The first does not fit into any fixed genre so people can indeed play it wrong as they have misplaced expectations.

      That said, after about 20 hours I couldn’t bear to sink more time into that damn creature’s training. Connect this game to a Kinnect (instead of a haptic glove) and a projector and it could be a surreal experience, there may be hope for a threequel.

    • IvanHoeHo says:

      Damnit! time to reinstall The Beginning.

      Witcher 2 can wait

  9. RagingLion says:

    So getting this.

  10. Hatsworth says:

    Well, the Steam page is worrying:
    HIGH SPEED INTERNET ACCESS AND CREATION OF A UBISOFT ACCOUNT ARE REQUIRED TO ACCESS THIS VIDEO GAME AND ONLINE FEATURES AND TO PLAY ONLINE. YOU MUST BE AT LEAST 13 TO CREATE A UBISOFT ACCOUNT WITHOUT PARENTAL CONSENT. UBISOFT MAY CANCEL ACCESS TO ONE OR MORE SPECIFIC ONLINE FEATURES UPON A 30-DAY PRIOR NOTICE PUBLISHED AT http://www.fromdustgame.com/

    The exact same text appears for the always online title Silent Hunter 5.
    Might and Magic Clash of Heroes HD was recently announced for PC, I really hope it doesn’t end up being online only.

    • Mana_Garmr says:

      They have the same text on the AssCreed 2 page and that’s been downgraded to the “be online when you launch the game” version rather than the “always online”.

    • Commisar says:

      oh god, PLEASE don’t have always-on DRM, if it does, I have no option but to pirate :(

    • Premium User Badge

      Andy_Panthro says:

      No option? You could, perhaps, just not buy it and not bother playing it at all?

      I mean, there are countless other games out there, and by the sounds of it I wouldn’t be too bothered about missing this.

    • Hatsworth says:

      Well to me that is also unacceptable Mana_Garmr, and I bet the AC2 text has not changed since it did require a constant connection.

  11. Premium User Badge

    Diziet Sma says:

    I’m torn. I quite like it, it’s peaceable and enjoyable and possibly worth the 1200 MSP asking fee… however whilst playing the demo I couldn’t help but think it would:

    a) work better with a mouse, left for collect, right for drop.
    b) be prettier
    c) possibly be cheaper

    on the good ‘ol PC. The clincher will be Price and UBI DRM. I suspect ubisoft’s drm is meant to drive us to the consoles, in which case it’s probably going to work on me for this game.

    • Commisar says:

      it costs $15, and has over 8 hours of gameplay, look at the Giantbomb review

    • Premium User Badge

      Jubaal says:

      Commisar are you on commission for each time you mention $15, 8 hours and Giantbomb review in the same sentence?

    • Premium User Badge

      dirtyword says:

      Beat me to it – I was about to ask the same thing.

    • Gabe McGrath says:

      UBIsoft’s DRM isn’t pushing me towards its console releases.
      Instead… UBI don’t get money from me, full stop.

      My money goes to companies like Valve who don’t feel the need to CHECK IF I’M POSSIBLY BEING NAUGHTY EVERY TWO FRICKING SECONDS and actually show me some respect.

      And guess what, that respect is returned.
      I wouldn’t pirate a Valve game in a million years. No matter how expensive it was.

    • Sigh says:

      “it costs $15, and has over 8 hours of gameplay, look at the Giantbomb review”

      YES, I just earned another 10 cents…KA-CHING!

  12. Coins says:

    Perhaps I’m bitter, but the great creativity of the old days seems rarely matched these days, if ever. I’ll still get this, but can’t help but be dissapointed. It looks great, and it could have (should?) have been much more.

  13. DarkFarmer says:

    game still seems cool to me. out of this world is super linear, so i expected this game to be as well especially after seeing GiantBomb’s walk-thru. Grrrr, no Bastion either. Consoles, die already.

  14. somini says:

    Well, the fact that is not bad means I’m still getting this. Ubisoft still has great teams, but fail at publishing. It’s pretty sad…

  15. johnpeat says:

    360 demo left me stone-cold – my biggest issues are

    a – your ‘cursor’ fills up with a load of stuff you collect and ensures you cannot see WTF you’re dropping it
    b – the AI of your people appears to be crap – they get lost, refuse to cross tiny puddles a toddler could waddle through etc. etc.

    Instead of creating land bridges etc, I ended-up just following them and dumping sand ON them as it’s the only way to keep them heading in the right direction – otherwise they wander off etc.

    Worse still, the demo only offers ‘against the clock’ races where you’re willing the AI just to get off it’s lazy arse and DO SOMETHING – why are they just standing there – why is that idiot screaming for help.

    The way the sand/water etc. moves and shapes itself is lovely – but I don’t think there’s much of a game in that aspect of it. The ‘game’ appears to be interacting with a recalcitant, ungrateful AI as it – well – frequently as it does nothing!!

    Add to that unskippable cutscene/intro videos and I have no desire to see beyond the demo.

    p.s. I might have been spoiled by years of loving development in RTSs where your buildings are ‘built’ in fantastic detail – but the way they just ‘slide up’ out of the ground here looks really shit.

    • Commisar says:

      well, they never said that this game was going to be populous 2, so stop bitching that is isn’t. This game is a puzzle game crossed with a god game, if you don’t like it, don’t buy it

    • Premium User Badge

      Jubaal says:

      @Commisar: Johnpeat is merely giving his constructive feedback from the demo he played and why it left him cold. He hasn’t mentioned Populous 2. Instead of coming across so defensively why don’t you share your thoughts on the demo. That would be more constructive.

    • utharda says:

      That’d have to be populous 3 commissar. l;)

    • Kaira- says:

      Wouldn’t that be Populous 4?

    • marach says:

      a) It spreads out 10 seconds after you drop it you dont need to be precise just close enough.
      b) The pathing can be extremely stupid but they only refuse to cross the water if they would have to swim to cross it, if it’s a puddle just scoop the damn thing and move it to one side, if it’s a river stop the river or change it’s direction

    • johnpeat says:

      @marach – you DO need to be precise in some cases, sand is washed-away/moved by moving water and so making a bridge in some areas is quite difficult and it won’t last long.

      The whole terraforming this is really quite clever – I’m less sold that they’ve put a decent game on-top of it. The guys you’re supposed to be helping are tiny, easily get lost, whine a lot, do nothing for themselves and got on my nerves pretty fast!

      The camera controls are clunky and the demo’s levels aren’t exactly inspiring. In one, there’s a Tsunami coming and what I have to do is get ONE guy to a rock on the side of the mountain and then back within a time limit. If I do that – he will ‘magically’ make people invulnerable to drowning which has no actual useful effect other than to stop ‘game over’ happening at that point in the level! – so I get to watch a tsunami flood the place and then continue playing – instead of watching it and then having to start again (I’m not allowed to skip that bit, either way).

      It lacks – err – something…

    • marach says:

      @johnpeat
      1. look for place where there is a low bank patch almost at water level
      2.Grab full size dirt ball
      3.drop pile slightly down river from spot with low bank (all of it) roughly in the centre
      4. watch river level rise slightly and split round the big pile of dirt you just added
      5. fill gaps either side noting the water carries the dirt to that pile and makes it bigger if you mess up and go to high up the river

      where the hell did I need to be accurate there?

      btw that turn water spell? it’s to teach you totems can have powers associated with them you need them later on for some of the real levels.

  16. Premium User Badge

    Jubaal says:

    *deleting reply fail*

  17. OJ287 says:

    This looks like the world’s greatest map editor.

  18. Premium User Badge

    Diziet Sma says:

    On a lighter note, when you follow one of your people through the vegetation in this game… has anyone noticed how fucking HUGE the plants are?

    • HeavyHarris says:

      Actually yeah I noticed that too. What about the giant horse-shoe crab thingies?

  19. Demiath says:

    I played a bit of the game yesterday and I mostly wanted to test the limits of the terraforming. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that I could make the big river on of the first levels disappear completely (and not just change its course) by dropping lots of earth on the mountain slope where it originated. That was a more genuine effect of my landscape design powers than I had expected…so I guess my expectations were very different from Alec Meer’s despite having watched the same trailers. I’m a bit puzzled as to why someone would expect, well, the second coming of Christ or something when the promotional material, developer commentary videos etc. has made it quite clear that this is a fairly traditional puzzle game.

  20. MythArcana says:

    Who is Eric Chahi? Who is developing this title? Reading articles on this site is sometimes like trying to catch gossip around the water cooler at work.

    The real irony here is that if it weren’t for EA destroying Bullfrog Productions, we might have had a real Populous sequel by now…along with a rash of other amazing God games. But, alas, much like another famous developer, this one seems to be stuck in the weeds in console-land, as well. Pity…

  21. Premium User Badge

    skalpadda says:

    I’m surprised at the negativity towards this, especially the notion that it was going to be a gigantic god game a la Populous, considering it’s been quite obvious it’s a “little game” since it was announced, it’s cheap, has novel mechanics, distinct art, looks fairly polished and still has a substantial chunk of content to it.

    • wu wei says:

      Hey, don’t blame us for expecting something akin to Populous. Chahi himself said:

      Project dust is the spiritual heir to Populous.

      If you can find where he clarifies that this means “little puzzle game” in the same article, then you’ll have a point.

    • Premium User Badge

      skalpadda says:

      I would argue it is akin to games like Populous. Fair enough if you’re disappointed after only reading that article (I hadn’t), but the previews, trailers and price tag should be a good indication that it wouldn’t be super deep.

    • LennyLeonardo says:

      Yeah, it was kind of misleading comparing this game to Populous.
      I’d hesitate to call it a God Game because that implies a level of power/influence that you just don’t get here.
      It’s true it is a puzzle game – oddly it reminds me of Wetrix – anyone remember that?

      But I still love this. The sense of nature being the real God is really strong, with stuff like tidal waves and flash fires being actually pretty scary. I think if you take the game on its own merits, and if you appreciate the atmosphere, you’ll find a lot to like.

  22. cpy says:

    I liked populous 3, building tribe, fighting, converting enemies, and fighting enemies with converted enemies :)
    Monks in towers = win :)
    Awww yeah and spells, dont forget my favorite wasp swarm or was it bees?

  23. Premium User Badge

    Lambchops says:

    i’m probably more interested in this now that I know it’s more like a puzzle game!

    The things about sandboxes for me is that they’re fun for a while but then I either get fed up of the sandbox and want something a bit more focused. Or I start taking the path of least resistance (which is entirely my own fault for my lack of creativity I know!) which tends to become tedious.

  24. Nameless1 says:

    I know you won’t like this, but since It is a pc-centered site and since how that company treats its customers, I’d have liked you to completely IGNORE this product for the entire next month (at least)

  25. vanilla bear says:

    My expectations were pretty high for this following the first trailers, and then were lowered considerably when it emerged it was a £15 digital-only game – this sounds about what I was expecting.

    Nevertheless –

    “A small pile of earth in the right – or wrong – place can have immediate and dramatic effects, turning a stream into a river, a valley into a lake, a spring into a waterfall, a beach into an estuary or series of tree-flocked peninsulas, a happy village into a drowned nightmare.”

    SOLD (Subject to DRM)

    Hopefully they’ll make a more ambitious game if this sells well

    • marach says:

      yeah it’s true I hit drop in a place i thought safe but as the pile of dirt moved to settle it kinked a river.. straight into my main village >.<

    • johnpeat says:

      All of those things are true – BUT – it appears the objective of the game is purely to make paths around the world so that the AI can get to things (usually on a time limit) – with extra points being awarded for ensuring plants thrive to the extent animals will appear around them (the secondary quest, if you like).

      The demo doesn’t little or nothing with water – everything is about creating/moving land so that your people can walk to places – so whilst all those streams and rivulets etc. may seem nice, the demo, at least, offers NO use for them.

    • Ginger Yellow says:

      Well, yes, but that’s kind of like saying the point of Populous is to make flat land.

    • marach says:

      @johnpeat
      Wait a sec you’ve only played the demo? That means you’ve never even got to the jellyfy water and evaporate powers once you’ve played the full game complain about the lack of abilities hell you’ve probably never even seen the fire/water trees

  26. Ginger Yellow says:

    It became pretty clear this was going to be more Lemmings than Populous a couple of months back. Disappointing, but I can’t say I wasn’t warned – doubly so when I realised it was XBLA/Steam rather than a retail release. Taken on its own merits, it’s pretty fun, and the fluid dynamics are endlessly enjoyable. As mentioned above, the AI can be a bit strange – cancelling a move order doesn’t seem to work half the time and I’ve had to restart levels a couple of times just to get them moving again. Other than that, though, I’m enjoying it a lot.

  27. Kaldor says:

    I see it already, the reviewers chastising their sense of wonder and talking about it with their IT-dryness and hip internet-smugness, wedging it into charts and categories, finally saying a few kind words about its prettiness and originality and letting it go to all the world like an average product.

  28. causeican says:

    I bought this game on xbox. It can be very frustrating at times. ESPECIALLY the second to last level. But it is a very fun game and you feel accomplished after you realize what you have to do. I would recommend it. unless you want a true god game. Because this nowhere near god powers. You just move stuff. Oh and the AI can be really retarded sometimes.

  29. Wozzle says:

    Disapointing, but happy I’ll have an easier time of sticking to my “I WONT BUY THIS BECAUSE UBISOFT IS DUMB” policy.

  30. 3ay says:

    To be honest, since I’ve only played some of Daggerfall and Oblivion, I probably shouldn’t be talking. My biggest problem with Oblivion was the level up with everything around you system. I remember deciding to restart the game after playing a few levels because I focused on silly little things, and because I was unfocused (after all, I AM a high school senior, who can’t make a fairly signifigant life şahinnparadisegelenekselramazancoşkusu

  31. dellphukof says:

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