System(s): PS3, Also available for Xbox 360 and PC
Release Date: June 19, 2013
Publisher (Developer): IndiePub (Neko Entertainment)
ESRB Rating: Everyone
If you’ve ever wanted to command lightening bolts like the great and powerful Zeus, then Storm is the game for you. Recently released on PS3, the game challenges players to control the environment in order to fertilize a seed. Be prepared, however, to have a new-found appreciation for Mother Nature because controlling the elements is harder than it seems.
One Word: Tornadoes
Storm is a physics-based puzzle game where players control nature’s elements (i.e. rain, wind and lightening) in order to guide a seed to fertile ground where can grow into a tree. It might sound simple, but I guarantee it is challenging. For Challenge Mode, the game starts off relatively easy in Spring, but as you progress the game-play becomes more difficult. You must learn to incorporate all the elements together and time them to ensure the seed can take root.” While Spring is tranquil and light, be prepared for a harsh Winter.
Let’s say a season has just begun in Storm. I would start off using the wind element to drop the seed from the tree. Then, I could use wind or rain to elevate the seed to the next level of ground. If the seed is blocked from going any further, I could use lightning to start a fire in the grass and wind to spread the fire along to clear the area. Once the area is clear, rain can put out the fire. Then, I’d blow the seed to the fertile ground where it could grow into a tree. In some levels, I could power up my elements. For example, if I blew a seed to the glowing orb that contains a second rain power up, I could double the amount of rain I could use without a recharge.
The available elements change as players navigate your way through the four seasons. Fall gets tornadoes, which are as awesome as they sound, and Summer gets fire. Storm contains 49 levels in total, divided among the four seasons, but eventually you will unlock wild seeds which allow you to skip levels if you find them too challenging. Trust me, I will not judge you if you need a free pass. Players can also re-spawn your seed at any time if you find yourself stuck at any point in the level.
Besides Challenge mode, Storm also has Adventure and Spirit modes. Adventure mode is free play, while spirit mode is comprised of timed levels where the player has to collect the spirits within certain parameters.
A Visual Masterpiece
What really stands out about Storm is the aesthetics. Much like Flower, From Dust, and Journey, there is something inherently serene about Storm. I found I wanted to keep playing, even when frustrated with a tough level. It goes above and beyond to create an ambiance for the player, and even more it creates a world in which the player reigns supreme.
Along with the stunning visuals, Storm packs a melodic punch. If you’re like me and could have listened to the Journey soundtrack all day, then your ears will thank you for giving Storm a try. The music changes subtly with the seasons, altering just enough to be different. After I’d been stuck on a Fall level for what felt like forever, I was happy to hear a new track usher in Winter.
The soothing music and visuals helped, as sometimes Storm got a little frustrating. Most levels had a clear solution, but there were some that seemed relatively impossible, as though success was up to chance. However, this made conquering those levels without wild seeds especially rewarding, even if no one was around to see me do it.
Another issue I had with Storm was that I felt the hints in Spring came a level later than intended. This seemed to fix itself when Fall came around, but since Spring was the beginning of the game, I would have liked the guide to be more in sync with the techniques I had to learn and employ. I also discovered a little late in the game that I could re-spawn my seed at any time. Learning this a little earlier would have saved myself a lot of time and effort.
Can You Master the Elements?
Storm is a unique gaming experience that gives players the opportunity to harness weather alongside a beautiful backdrop and soundtrack. While the game is truly puzzling at times, it’s very rewarding to become the self-proclaimed Weather Master. Storm is a great game to get lost in and because it is challenging, I was caught up in it for quite some time. The best advice I can give is to enjoy the process and don’t get discouraged.