Storm Review for PlayStation 3 (PS3)

Storm Review for PlayStation 3 (PS3)

Meteorology for the Masses

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 Screenshot

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.

Storm Screenshot

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.

Storm Screenshot

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.

Visually, Storm’s presentation is earthy and new age. It focuses on the world as it should, and stylizes the graphics to fit the natural feel it’s striving for. Distant, mountainous backgrounds and blurred, close-up foregrounds give the screen a sense of depth, and intermittent ambient weather effects blow across the screen, creating motion in an otherwise static environment. For a puzzler, this game pulls off these traits admirably and separates itself graphically from most other games in its genre.

Storm Screenshot

The soundscape of Storm isn’t terribly impressive, but does its job adequately. Weather effects sound as they should–thunder, running water, wind, etc. The light and airy orchestral soundtrack is more likely to put you to sleep than entertain, even though it is well crafted. Couple that with the less than exciting gameplay, and what you get is a recipe for a digital Valium, the likes of which the world has never seen–and may never see again.

This game is a puzzler, pure and simple. It uses some fairly unique mechanics, has an interesting art style, and stays true to its simplistic core. However, it is decidedly average (with a few high points) and never really slips the bonds of the puzzle genre, which it was clearly trying to do. This particular game would have been an excellent candidate for handheld and touch platforms, since it is better in bite-sized bits and seems like more of an on-the-go sort of game. But, alas, it is only available on consoles and PC–an odd marketing choice for this type of game.

Overall, it is a fun game for a little while, but once the novelty wears off, you will see it for the puzzle game it is so desperately trying not to be. However, if you have a weather-based obsession, this is probably going to dominate your life for the unforeseeable future. Sorry.

Only available for PC and consoles, this game takes advantage of the power of these devices graphically. 3.5 Control
Work relatively well, they are simple and to the point. Occasionally had issues with timing delays for weather effects. 3.0 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
This soundtrack is well crafted, but has more potential of putting you to sleep than entertaining you. 3.5 Play Value
Multiple modes of play create additional value, but once you’re done with this game, you will probably be done forever. 3.5 Overall Rating – Good
Not an average. See Rating legend below for a final score breakdown.

Review Rating Legend
0.1 – 1.9 = Avoid 2.5 – 2.9 = Average 3.5 – 3.9 = Good 4.5 – 4.9 = Must Buy
2.0 – 2.4 = Poor 3.0 – 3.4 = Fair 4.0 – 4.4 = Great 5.0 = The Best

Game Features:

  • The ability to manipulate seven different elements of nature in 49 intriguing levels.
  • Three unique game modes: Adventure, Challenge and Spirit.
  • Collect hidden orbs that unlock exclusive content within the game.

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