From Dust



Innovative "god" game tasks players to help tiny tribesmen.

What parents need to know

Positive messages

This game has religious overtones -- players play a god capable of enacting miraculous feats for tribal people -- but the mysticism is plainly fantastical in nature. It also encourages curiosity and discovery and rewards the use of logic to solve problems. 

Positive role models

Players assume the role of a bodiless, nearly omnipotent entity that strives to help tribes of people overcome natural obstacles, protects them from floods and fires, and helps them cultivate the earth and spread out to new villages.  

Ease of play

With no other game quite like it, players of all experience levels will be forced to learn how to play from scratch. Luckily, the controls are simple, and the learning curve gentle -- at least to start. Later levels require players to work quickly in order to avert disasters, and several are likely to demand multiple attempts.


Tribal villagers can be washed away by floods and consumed by fire. Players hear little yelps of pain, but these deaths aren’t gory or graphic. The camera perspective is typically so high that the villagers appear as little more than specks with sticks for arms and legs.

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Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that From Dust is a game in which you take on the role of a god who can manipulate the earth and the elements to help a tribe of men survive and spread across the land. Not all of the men survive -- some will be washed out to sea, and others consumed by fire -- but the camera’s nearly stratospheric location means these deaths are never graphically depicted. Though not explicitly educational, players will likely come away with an appreciation for the powerful roles that nature and religion can play in tribal life.

What's it about?

Players become a god to groups of tiny tribesmen in FROM DUST, a downloadable game available through Xbox Live Arcade. Through a series of more than a dozen levels, players use powerful abilities that allow them to shift the earth to create natural water dams, move water to help vegetation to flourish, and even relocate molten lava to create rocky barriers that protect against floods. Players will also gain special powers as the game progresses, including the ability to thicken water for brief periods to allow tribesmen to cross and to cause droughts to keep rising waters at bay. Challenge stages offer players the opportunity to hone their godlike skills in situations involving tsunamis and wildfires.

Is it any good?


In a marketplace swamped with shooters and platformers, From Dust stands out as fresh and original. There’s something gratifying about shaping the earth to your will, sometimes completely altering a landscape with simple depressions of a couple of buttons. It can be fun to simply play with the physics system and watch how the game's seemingly intelligent virtual water finds ways of overcoming your attempts to contain it with rocky and earthen dams.

However, your objectives aren't always as satisfying as the world in which they take place. Short levels provide players a series of simple goals -- reach this tower, collect that artifact -- that force players into playing a certain way using specific abilities. You're teased with the tools and potential for experimentation, but rarely given the opportunity to fully exploit them. It's still a lot of fun, but we came away wishing we'd been given the sort of freedom more befitting a god.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about religion in games. Do you enjoy the feeling of power conferred by "god" games that provide players with seemingly omnipotent abilities? Do they alter the way you think about your own spirituality?

  • Families can also discuss violence in games. How do you feel when you see your tiny tribesmen washed out to see or taken by fire? Are you emotionally affected by their deaths? Do these scenes make you reflect on real-world disasters?

Game details

Platforms:Xbox 360
Available online?Not available online
Release date:July 27, 2011
ESRB rating:E for Mild Violence

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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For kids who love playing as powerful beings

What parents and kids say

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Teen, 13 years old Written byJacobTheGreat2 August 9, 2011


Just so you know, it's in the LIVE arcade, not a disc. The "god" you are playing as is this force that the villagers created known as "The Breath." There is some violence, but it's from natural disasters with a high up view. Also you are trying to protect the tribes men from these disasters by building blockades with lava, get ahold of knowledge stones, etc.It does require thinking, especially on the territory "Movements" where you are inside the crater of a giant, active volcano. And if you want some thing where you can create your own island, then play the game. The last level is like that. It's small, but worth the Microsoft Points.
Teen, 14 years old Written bynsvv September 29, 2011

Careless and disapointing

From Dust is a truly unique game, built around an innovative and clever concept. The console editions received fairly positive reviews, which is fair enough. However, Ubisoft recently ported this title to the PC. Never in my life have I played a game so carelessly designed. There are absolutely no graphical settings so unless you have some £1000 gaming rig, you're going to lag. Mouse sensitivity is awful, with even the lowest sensitivity being jerky and overly reactive. The gameplay is also quite disappointing; it's incredibly linear and there are no sandbox settings. All in all, a very poor game. If you're using a console, go ahead but if you're a PC gamer, give this game a wide berth.
Kid, 11 years old September 15, 2011

mosty all ages

10 and under may not under stand the concept of it all but a good game


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