The funny thing about From Dust is that it leaves you feeling that life as a god wouldn’t necessarily be a bowl of cherries. There you are, creating mighty works for your people to behold, doing your stuff in mysterious ways. You’re creating fertile plains from desert, halting fire, flood and death by molten lava, and it’s all looking pretty damn epic. And what are your worshippers up to? Can they obey simple instructions? Help you out by jollying along from A to B? Not one bit. They’re meandering along as if there’s all the time in the world, picking the route that leads through threat and danger instead of the safe path you’ve prepared. It’s enough to make you throw up your hands and leave the little morons to their fate.
In From Dust, you’re ‘the breath’. The descendants of an ancient tribe have returned to their old homelands, and they need your help to settle, thrive and progress towards their destiny. Age-old totems provide the focal points to found new settlements. Get five tribesmen to congregate around one and a village will be formed. Earth can be gathered in a mighty ball, and deposited to raise land above water and create safe places to live and places to walk. Rivers can be diverted or dammed, and water can be scooped up from one place and dumped in another. Found all the settlements on the map and you can open a gateway to the next one. What could be easier than that?
Actually, plenty. In some maps tsunamis strike up every few minutes, drowning the land and whisking your poor villagers away. On others, fire trees set the local vegetation burning, the flames reaching your villages and wiping them out. Volcanoes threaten to spew lava on your people, springs and waterfalls might flood the plains, or the earth moves in weird cycles, raising one area while dropping another under water. Getting new totems settled while keeping your existing villages going is no simple task.
Luckily, there are powers you can use. Tribesmen can learn chants to repel water. Firetrees can be uprooted, or you can move water plants nearby that release a flood when they kick off. You can use blanket powers to dry the land or reduce the spread of fire, and even use a nifty power to jelllify water, creating dams out of the river, or literally parting seas.