From Dust Preview
We’ll be bringing you previews of games like Ace Combat: Assault Horizon and Vritua Tennis 4 soon but in the meantime, we wanted to take a look at that very unique and intriguing downloadable title from Ubisoft. At first, it was only known as “Project Dust” but last week at GamesCom 2010, it was officially unveiled as From Dust and the early footage and information began to flow. You can check out the debut trailer below and as for the gameplay details, we know this game centers on the concept of playing God; i.e., controlling nature’s elements to keep some ancient peoples alive and safe. Terraforming is a complex and thought-provoking concept to begin with; when we take that to a new level and acquire the ability to transform/move the land, oceans and life inherent to both…well, that’s an appealing idea. It’s also super ambitious for a downloadable project and if done correctly, may become a “measuring stick” game for all future original digital games.
From Dust takes a macro approach to reforming the terrain; you won’t be moving a single tree or a single creature from here to there; you’ll be taking great mounds of earth to create mountains (or islands in the midst of the ocean); you’ll take a huge amount of water and drop it in a strategic locale to form a useful lake. As we understand it, this is done simply and easily, as the developers are implementing a straightforward control scheme for maneuvering those various earth elements. All you’ll really have to do is select the terrain, the size or amount, and then simply grab it and move it about via the left analog stick. This may prove essential because we can easily envision various gameplay situations and instances where speed will be of the essence. You’ll be battling all sorts of natural disasters as time goes on and in order to save the civilians, you just might have to think quickly and act fast. We kinda like it when we have time to plan a strategy but since when does Mother Nature wait for that sort of thing?
Despite that aforementioned macro philosophy, you still have to keep an eye on how everything reacts to your ministrations. For instance, if you’re digging around by the shore of a body of water, you can expect the water to realistically fall into the holes and trenches you’re creating. If you pick up a big parcel of land that includes a forest or something, pieces of that forest will be spread about when you decide on a location for that particular piece of land. Also, remember the creatures and humans; they may prove to be the trickiest to deal with – if only ‘cuz they move – but their survival will be crucial. Perhaps most important is the realization that you’re dealing with a living, breathing world: technically labeled as a simulation, everything should seem quite authentic. Water will eat away at land, plants will grow, and lava can flow and cut away; the game’s accelerated clock will allow you to see how everything progresses and it’s advised that you remain vigilant at all times.
And sometimes, it isn’t just about protecting a group of faceless civilians. You may have to protect one particular individual so he can fulfill his very important purpose, and that may entail clearing a path for him. It almost seems like an awesome combination of Civilization, Lemmings and Black & White, doesn’t it? If done correctly, those villagers – who can obtain power of the elements, too – will fight for their own survival. Success will rely on the combined control and brainpower of you (the all-powerful deity) and the villagers who have more power than any of us have ever dreamed of having. For now, this is entirely a single-player experience although it seems Ubisoft may consider adding some form of multiplayer entertainment after the game releases. From Dust doesn’t yet have a solidified release date, but expect to see it some time during the second quarter of next year.
8/23/2010 Ben Dutka