Surveying The Storm: A ‘Rootimentary’ Task (Review)
This game was reviewed on the PC.
Storm is unique platformer designed by EKO Software and published by indiePub. The game doesn’t have a storyline, but the idea of it is based on a real-world concept you usually learn in grade school: nature. Trees reproduce by planting seeds into the ground, but how do they get there? While there are different ways this can occur in reality, in Storm, a seed falls from a tree, to the ground at the beginning of the level, and the player uses the power of controlling the weather to coax the seed to a safe and fertile area. It may seem like a rudimentary task, and possessing the power to control the elements may feel like overkill just to move an itty bitty seed across a grassy knoll, but don’t be deceived: this little platformer may very well keep you on your celestial toes.
Within the first few levels (which act as a tutorial for the game), players will be granted the ability to use Wind, Lightning, and Rain to manipulate the area surrounding their seed so it can move in the direction they want. There are also various types of seeds that provide an extra challenge, such as a red-coloured seed that doesn’t float, making certain obstacles (like pits filled with water) harder to manoeuvre the seed around. Each ability uses different buttons (Left, Right and Scroll mouse buttons respectively on the PC), and basic directional commands determine which location the ability will come from, and where it will aim itself. For example, if PC gamers hover to the left of the seed and use the Wind ability while pressing the Left Arrow on their keyboard, the wind will push the seed to the right by blowing wind at it. Players will have to use these abilities in new ways as they progress, such as using Thunder to make the seed jump left or right, or using Lightning to blast through rock to create a new pathway for the seed to travel through.
While it seems the game would prove to be a big challenge, each stage is unevenly staggered in difficulty, making a rocky progression in the gameplay. One stage will have you moving around giant cliffs and carefully jumping over bottomless pits, and the next will have you moving the seed from one side of a hill to another. It’s hard to tell if this was intentional or just randomized, as there is no clear progression aside from the changes in season, and a title screen announcing a new level when the previous one has been completed.
Gorgeously crafted is the best way to describe the breathtaking graphical display that is Storm. The careful consideration of the changing seasons makes for a great playthrough, and each of the four stages is beautiful in its own way, with a field full of bright green life in the Spring, soft autumn colours during Fall, and grey and icy wastelands during Winter. There are also fantastic changes in lighting as a player creates a downpour that soaks the earth with water and a hazy darkness, or cracks through a rock face with a bright streak of Lightning may make players want to mess with their powers with or without moving their precious seed around. The initial awe over the types of seasonal changes could be a saving grace for many players. Aside from the changes in season, each set of levels is exactly the same in the way it looks, without any significant deviations to the landscape. It’s almost as if the developers took the same four levels, and just moved the pits, valleys, and hills around to make the game more of a challenge. Couple that with the gameplay itself being repetitive due to the lack of different abilities or types of obstacles, and the replay value is greatly diminished.
Thankfully, the sound that accompanies the fantastic and almost magical game graphics is another great addition that may just win the affections of ears everywhere. The music and sound effects integrate perfectly with the visual surroundings, making the game feel very natural in its fluidity. The gentle pitter-patter of the rain, the whooshes and gusts from the wind, or the creaking of rapidly growing trees spreading their branches out after a successful plant, each sound effect in Storm is rooted into the game like the very grasslands your seed rolls around upon. Soft classical piano tunes play in the background as you make your way through the game, and while there are no voices to accompany you on your journey, it’s as if you were outside looking down on a newly formed world, and willing it to move and change at your inaudible command. Players won’t be disappointed with the gentle shifting in the emotional tones of the music from season to season.
While Storm isn’t a game that is meant to be played over and over in an addictive daze, players will truly enjoy this new form of platforming, and it really is a beautiful experience that is worth the $14.99 price tag. It’s the type of game you can pick up and put down without feeling like you’re missing some compelling storyline, or knowing you’ll lose your touch if you come back to it at a later date. The simple commands and gorgeous design will give gamers a great go-to game when they’re tired of the intense RPGs or FPSs coming out. Storm is a way to feel empowered without leaving your living room or adding further anxiety to your day-to-day life. Whether you’re a PC or a console gamer, Storm is a neat little title that’s sure to look good in your collection.
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