Ubisoft's incredible first entry into the God Game genre From Dust has been generating its fair share of buzz. Over here at Game Rant it's been nominated for 2 best of E3 2011 awards - including Best Original Game and Best In Show. We also gave it the distinction of having one of the best gameplay trailers to come out of E3.
For those still unfamiliar with From Dust, the ultimate goal in the game is for the player, as a god-like entity commanding a sphere which can relocate sand, water, and lava, to help protect a tribe as they slowly explore and expand into the world of the game.
Its incredible visuals are powered by an engine which reacts realistically to changes in topography to create a realistic world in which you really feel like a god. If you attempt to dam-up a river with sand, the force of the river will start to erode the sand away. If you manage to successfully create the dam, the water will pool up behind the river - i.e. Using lava instead of sand will create much more permanent structures.
At E3 2011 we got some quality time with the game, while Eric Chahi (From Dust's Designer) gave us some insight into what else we can expect from the game - and what hasn't really been explained as of yet. In our hands on with the game we told you about the first level of the demo which focused on the importance of using some clever thinking to get your tribe around some natural obstacles.
The second level begins in a similar fashion to the first. A tsunami threatens to destroy the tribe's village and you have to stop it - only this time, there's no Repel Water to save your tribe. Instead you must use the lava native to the area to rebuild a natural mountainous wall protecting the cove in which your village sits.
Upon saving the tribe yet again, you're tasked with building a couple more villages before moving on from the area. These villages can also provide the player with different powers, and the second village in the area provided us with a very interesting ability in "Jellify Water." Just like it sounds, it turns all water into jelly. In practice, this means that you can pick up water from a now jellified river and in Moses-like fashion create a path through which your villagers can travel. Indeed this is how you get your villagers across to the area where the end of the level resides.
Jellify Water is just one of seven unique powers that players are going to get to play around with. A few others mentioned by Chahi are abilities which increase the capacity of the sphere you command, start fires, and even create a black hole, the latter of which will no doubt somehow end up being used by many for evil rather than good.
Another aspect of From Dust that hasn't been getting a lot of attention is the way vegetation will play into the game. Vegetation serves several roles, and will not just be eye candy. Different types of vegetation will provide different benefits to the player - creating some strategy to how the land is grown in addition to how it's shaped.
Chahi explained three different types of vegetation to us, but its likely that there will be others present in the game. Water trees will have the ability to absorb water and create water. Fire trees will be able to cause water to evaporate, no doubt making it easier to dam-up some smaller rivers. Finally bomb trees will be the only way that players remove rock in the game, giving them full control over the landscape of some levels.
Each level also contains a vegetation meter which rises as more vegetation fills the landscape of the level. Once the meter is full, players will unlock special challenge maps. The challenge maps present the player with a task they must complete within an allotted timeframe.
The challenge map we were shown required the player to put out a fire which was destroying vegetation. To put it out, the player had to take water surrounding the island and use it to douse the flames. At the end of the challenge the player is shown their time of completion - which comprises of the time it took for the challenge to be completed minus a bonus time. The bonus time is the time from the last action performed to the completion of the challenge (which should allow from some incredibly quick overall time scores - depending on how the challenge is completed).
In all there will be 30 challenge maps in From Dust to supplement the 13 levels which comprise the main story of the game. The primary narrative itself will explain why the tribe wears the masks they do - and will tell the story of how lava came to exist in the world of From Dust.
A new E3 trailer for From Dust shows a lot of what we've seen already, but also gives glimpses at what appears to be the tribe summoning a black hole as well as the Jellify Water ability in action.
The most impressive part of all is that the game is being released as a downloadable content title. It will see release on Xbox Live Arcade, PlayStation Network, and through various digital distribution platforms on the PC including Steam.
Are you looking forward to discovering the beautiful world of From Dust when it releases this summer?
From Dust will be giving you the power over sand, water, lava, and vegetation (and maybe even a bit of heart) when it releases for Xbox Live Arcade on July 20, 2011. Steam and PSN releases are expected to come a little later, although no release date for either platform has been announced yet.