Posted by Anthony Bacchus
Doom and gloom or a perfect storm?
Storm tries so desperately hard to be that soothing, relaxing gameplay experience. Something that can be picked up and played at someone's leisure after a stressful day at work. On paper, Storm has the makings of an indie hit and the folks at IndiePub do convey some rather interesting ideas. Unfortunately, frustrating level design gets in the way of Storm achieving the game it strives to be.
Storm doesn't come packaging a story or hidden environmental message – and frankly, it doesn't need to be. Players are tasked to guide a seed usually from one side of the map to the other. Using wind, water and lightning elements will allow you to get the seed to safety. Wind can be used to move the seed left or right, water can create ponds that will raise the seed to a higher platform, and lightning (with precision) can strike the seed, allowing it to leap over gaps. These power-ups do have a “cool-down” period so they can't necessarily be spammed. Storm does tend to introduce new mechanics as you progress through the game's 49 levels and for the most part, keep things fresh for a time being. The first time you set a patch of grass on fire with lightning, then blow the embers with wind to a nearby log resulting it to burn and wither away is a great 'eureka' moment. Sadly, Storm throws you into more confusing levels that become nothing more than trial-and-error.
Storm throws you into more confusing levels that become nothing more than trial-and-error.
A typical level of Storm is mostly composed of wondering what to do next. You may manage to get your seed across the map in a safe nook where you will spend the next few minutes scratching your head. Sometimes the physics can become so wonky that you may accidentally manage to get the seed where you need it to be. Other times, you need to destroy parts of the land with lightning and hope that the rocks billowing down the plain will land appropriately. Sometimes you will realize that the boulder shifted in the opposite direction and that you needed to collect the extra water power-up first before moving the seed over. That confused look you have on your face right now from reading that is permanently engraved during your time with Storm. There are simply too many times where you'll hit the 'Try Again' option because of a lack of proper direction.
Frustrating physic mechanics aside, Storm is one great looking game. The visuals have a sort of simple elegance to them and it shows throughout the game as you enter each season. The subtle rain drops that cascade across your screen as you use the water element never gets old; or the crumbling mountainside in the background during winter (that will probably go missed by many) is a nice touch. On the audio front, the soundtrack perfectly compliments the slow, methodical pace of the game and surprisingly never got tiring despite its constant loop. In fact, the music might just be the best part of Storm.
In fact, the music might just be the best part of Storm.
Upon completion, Storm immediately sends players back to the title screen where they have the option to freely play any stage they had completed or a different mode called Spirit Mode where you will now have to guide the seed to pick up yellow "spirits" in addition to completing the stage as normal. Only the hardcore will muster up the courage to replay Storm but sadly, there just isn't enough drive to come back to this game.
Storm, for all intents and purposes, isn't a particularly bad game. There are some interesting ideas at play here that, unfortunately, are hampered by poor level design and frustrating gameplay mechanics. While the graphics and sound in Storm are its strong suit, it's gameplay is obviously flawed. Storm uses the mother nature setting to the best of its capabilities but sadly, will only serve to frustrate its players rather than provide them with a relaxing experience.