|System: PC, PS3, Xbox 360|
|Dev: Eko Software|
|Release: June 18, 2013|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p|
by Josh Bruce
Do you find yourself watching The Weather Channel constantly? Can’t shake the incomprehensible need to look into the sky every 20 minutes or so? Do you find yourself in your backyard, putting your freshly licked pointer finger in the air to check the direction of the wind? If you answered yes to any or all of these questions you may want to seek professional help. Otherwise, you can purchase Storm for a measly 10 bucks and experience all the weather you can handle from the comfort of your living room. This way you can play with the forces of nature without getting wet or the inherent risk of being struck by lightning. See? It’s better this way.
Storm puts the power of the elements in your hands. Using these forces–wind, rain, lightning, snow, etc.–you are charged with the task of moving a seed from point A to point B. I know you’re excited, but attempt to contain yourself, there’s more. You must use these elements to traverse a landscape that is not particularly favorable for your journey. Hills, holes, caves, logs, and other natural obstacles thwart your efforts with evil consistency.
Damn you Mother Nature.
However, Storm’s simple design is part of its charm. It’s not a sprawling title, attempting to cover every weather anomaly on earth. It is a simple puzzler that sticks to the basics and its original concept, and I can respect that.
During the “Adventure” mode, you will soak, blow, and strike your seed through 49 different levels, each of which contains varied pitfalls to avoid and environmental tools to use. For instance, in addition to the holes your seed can get stuck in, there are bushes that emit a cloud of poisonous gas that seems to disintegrate your seed on contact. But not to worry, there are plenty of seeds willing to make this treacherous journey, an unlimited amount, in fact.
You can’t run out of lives on any given level, which eliminates any sense of real danger in the gameplay. But this game isn’t really supposed to be dangerous, so that’s okay. Actually, removing the restriction on a number of attempts for a single level accents the difficulty of later levels. Some of these levels, if not given an infinite amount of seeds, would have been utterly impossible. The gameplay is a journey of trial and error, finding the best way to deliver your future tree to a fertile patch of earth. At any point, whether you have entirely screwed the pooch, or if you just feel like it, you can reset your seed to the nearest tree and start the sequence over with the press of a button. This becomes a requirement in later levels due to the layout, which is a nice change-up to the puzzling.
You may not be able to run out of lives, but you can run out of one thing–weather. Each level is structured to provide you with the weather effects that you need, and not much else. Typically, you start each level with one or two weather abilities. Each ability has a timer that refills after use, so even though you cannot use it several times at once, you never lose the ability once it is acquired in that level. As you progress, some levels contain multiple charges of a particular weather occurrence. You can use these to increase the impact of the weather you are using on your target area. For example, if you have several rain charges you can use them on one spot to raise the water level higher to cross a deep hole. In some cases, you may actually start a level very near your target dirt patch, but will be required to take your seed on the scenic route to collect all the weather effects that you need to traverse the landscape.
In addition to the Adventure mode, there are two other game types–Free Play and Spirit mode. Free Play is exactly what it sounds like; you can choose a level and play it at your discretion as long as you have completed the level in Adventure mode. However, Spirit mode is a little different. Gameplay is identical in terms of mechanics, but instead of moving your seed from point A to B, you are required to collect spirits in each level to continue. Collecting these changes the path on which your seed must travel and makes each level (even though identical in layout) feel different, effectively doubling the amount of available gameplay.