|System: Xbox 360, PS3, PC|
|Dev: Eko Software|
|Pub: Zoo Entertainment|
|Release: TBA 2011|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p|
by Adam Dodd
I've always had a strong fascination with weather and storms. I can't tell you how many nights I spent outside my house, watching the clouds roll in and breathing in that palpable wetness that hangs in the air just before it rains. In celebration of weather enthusiasts everywhere comes a unique little indie game called Storm.
Whether or not you share my bizarre interest in meteorology, Storm is the type of game that can appeal to a variety of people. If you're looking for a relaxing experience, Storm's soothing soundtrack and beautiful visuals will definitely massage your worries away. If you'd rather have a rewarding experience that tests your puzzle-solving abilities, this game scratches that itch with 49 levels filled to the brim with progressively difficult weather-related puzzles. If you just want a game you can play with kids or casual gamers, Storm's fun mechanics and hand-drawn art style—as well as its lack of blood, guns, and explosions—will keep it from scaring away any children or non-gamers.
Storm is all about physics puzzles, and throughout the game you'll be tasked with the important mission of bringing a seed to fertile ground so it can grow and thrive. As is common with puzzle games of this sort, there are going to be quite a few obstacles blocking your path, including massive boulders and thorny bushes. Thankfully, you'll have an arsenal of elemental powers at your disposal to remove these obstacles from the environment.
You'll have three weather elements that can be used to help the seed traverse the dangerous levels: wind, lightning, and rain. Wind can move your seed from side to side and over treacherous holes, lightning can break up boulders and cause fires, and rain can be called upon to fill the holes, vanquish fires, or float your seed across distances. You'll require each of these abilities to solve the 49 levels worth of puzzles, but you'll also need some secondary abilities for stickier situations.
There are four secondary powers that correspond with the three main elements. Tornadoes can be formed to make the wind far more powerful, bubbles can make the seeds float, snow can be built up to create a cushion for a falling seed, and ice can give your seed a surface to glide across. These elemental tools give the puzzles even more depth and are also pretty fun to harness.
If that's still not deep enough, there are actually several different kinds of seeds—exclusive to certain seasons—that you'll have to protect. You'll start off with normal seeds that have no special abilities. You'll also come across the much heavier wind-resistant and easily sinkable Weighted Seeds. Their opposite, the lighter Dispersal Seeds, are more easily affected by wind and cannot sink. There are also Frail Seeds that die fairly easily and the Finite Seeds that only last a certain amount of time before dying.
Storm is a very relaxing game; the changing seasons add a bit of variety to the levels and ensure your eyes won't grow tired of looking at the same thing over and over again. This is also the type of game I recommend playing with the volume up, as the music provides a relaxing backdrop and immerses you in the game. For the most part, the puzzle-solving is intuitive—you're bound to get stuck as you get used to your abilities—but there aren't too many powers that could make the game overly complex or unfriendly to casual gamers.
There's no multiplayer, but the game does bring with it a handful of single-player modes. There's the story mode where you'll need to bring your seeds to the fertile ground across many seasonally themed levels. Then there's the timed Challenge mode that's all about beating the clock and your own high score (as well as showing off your nerd cred or weather-harnessing prowess). The third and final mode, the Spirit mode, is a little different in that you have to go about the levels collecting the spirit orbs that have been scattered about the environments for special rewards.
If you're looking for a unique game that's as beautiful as it is rewarding, then Storm might fit the bill. Its hefty amount of single-player content, gorgeous visuals, and deep physics puzzles will test even the mightiest of puzzle connoisseurs, while giving the rest of us something fun to look at and listen to. And for $10, you really can't go wrong here.
CCC Contributing Writer