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General Description

From Dust is a strategy game or "god game" developed by Ubisoft and released on Xbox Live Arcade, PlayStation Network and for Windows during the summer of 2011. Players must manipulate water, lava and earth in order to lead a small tribe of people to safety during each of the game's stages. Assuming an overhead view, players control a cursor that can be used to suck up and then distribute each of these elements, as well several varieties of trees that have various uses. Using these abilities creatively, players must protect their tribe from natural disasters while reshaping the land to allow the tribe to populate a series of villages in each stage, which unlocks the path forward.

The game offers opportunity for player creativity in particular, as it refrains from offering explicit solutions to each puzzle. Instead players are free to explore and come up with their own, and indeed must do so to proceed.

Grade by Game Type Overall Grade
D+ C-
Ratings at a Glance
Facts: 1 Title: FROM DUST
Creativity: 6 Publisher: Ubisoft Entertainment
Business: 0 Developer: Ubisoft
People: 0 Year: 2011
Problem: 5 Genre: Strategy
Simulation: 0 Strengths: creativity, problem, popularity
Popularity: 8 Platforms: PC
Xbox Live
Extra: 0  
Rating Details

Classroom Facts

In From Dust players manipulate various elements in realistic ways. Lave cools to form mountains, geysers wash away the earth and rivers can be turned away through trenches. These mechanics all work intuitively and realistically, though naturally things work somewhat more quickly and simply than they would in reality.

Creativity & Imagination

By the Player:

Players have plenty of creative freedom in that each stage of the game is totally malleable. It's clear that there are a few intended solutions in each case, but players are free to ignore these as they freely transform the land. Water, lava and earth can be picked up and relocated at any time, and as the villagers populate each settlement special abilities are unlocked. These may allow players to absorb matter, solidify water or instantly put out fires, allowing even more freedom.

The last stage of the game offers players a blank slate to experiment with and new abilities that allow them to quickly draw mountains out of the sea or sweep tsunamis across the land. This last stage has no goal, but all of the game's mechanics and impressive visuals are put at the player's fingers at once.

Each stage of the game offers a handful of secondary objectives, which involve finding hidden stones and spreading vegetation across the land. Completing these unlocks special challenge stages, which offer more condensed tests of the player's skill and more difficulty than is found in the main campaign.

By the Developer:

From Dust is a unique take on the strategy genre, taking elements from various other "god games" that give players an omniscient perspective over a population. Its focus on manipulating the earth is unique, however, and the smoothness which it allows players in shaping this earth is remarkable. The game's puzzles are satisfying, constantly forcing players to use new abilities and rethink the ways they've used old ones.

Watching tsunamis crash into volcanoes and fill lakes in From Dust is truly impressive, and manipulating them carefully can lead to extraordinary sights. Alongside these visuals is a unifying aesthetic style. The game's tribe speaks in its own distinct tongue, and players unlock pieces of lore about the tribe and its history with the various elements as they proceed through the game.

Business Skills

Business skills are not involved in From Dust.

People Skills

From Dust is a single-player game and doesn't really have any characters or dialogue, making it limited in people skills.

Problem Solving

The terrain of each stage challenges players in new ways. The various arrangements of streams, chunks of earth, volcanoes, explosive trees and more makes a unique puzzle of each stage. Each requires players to simultaneously colonize three or four villages safely, which means clearing routes to each and then protecting them from water and fire while the others are secured. The villages are usually spaced fairly evenly, and players are free to approach them in whatever order they decide. Players will soon learn to note the locations of other important elements of each stage. These include volcanoes, geysers, trees and artifacts that will help protect the villages.

While players might at first try to rearrange the earth subtly, each stage can actually be completed using fairly broad strokes while still leaving players some options to work with. To save a village from an impending flood, for example, players might use earth to raise the village up, or remove earth to dig a trench around it. When players begin to use magma to construct walls and explosive trees to tear them down all kinds of new options appear for the creative player.


From Dust is not a simulation game.


From Dust was received fairly well. Most reviews praised its fantastic visuals and use of simple but focused mechanics. Criticisms include the length of the game and some frustrations with its controls.

Controls & Options

From Dust only offers a few standard options.


From Dust was rated Everyone 10+ by the ESRB with a descriptor for Mild Violence.