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Storm Review

KevinS By:
GENRE Puzzle 
DEVELOPER Eko Software 
E Contains No Descriptors

What do these ratings mean?

There’s some weather a-brewin’.

Storm is an enigma for me. I enjoy a good puzzle game, but usually there’s an element of familiarity to make for an easy entry, a sort of nostalgic focal point if you will. But there isn’t anything like that here. It’s not like Portal, with a clear start-and-end-point system and a gun with only two modes to use. Storm is not like any other puzzler I’ve played before, at least none I can think of without brooding. Even though it’s based in the natural world, it just doesn’t feel quite so... natural.

The whole goal is to get one seed from its mother tree onto the next empty space in the soil, where it can grow and, in certain levels, sprout another tree to grow another seed that needs to find another soil space. Such is the circle of plant life. It sounds pretty easy, but the tools you're given are those of nature: Wind, rain, lightning, and snow are all sporadically available to a player depending on the stage they find themselves in.

Each element acts differently, obviously; for instance, wind pushes a seed in whatever direction is necessary. Then the next element to use depends on the type of seed that needs to be manipulated—some float, some sink, some are bigger or smaller. It's interesting enough in concept, but in execution it's not quite as calm and zen as it sounds. (Hint: There will be swearing when playing.)

Some of the puzzles are simply infuriating, and not in the best way. There are plenty of moments where a failed attempt feels entirely out of your control, simply due to a seed being caught up on something and no amount of wind or water can do anything about it. I went though my Wild Seeds, or level-skipping allowance, in almost three straight puzzles, then got one more, and then I was stuck. No matter what I do or how I try to rationalize a stage and think I've actually figured it out, I can still very, very easily find myself locked up on a rock or a corner, forcing a complete do-over of the entire level. Even when I've figured them out, it's hit or miss.

Adventure Mode is the starting spot for everybody, as it's the way to unlock stages for the other two modes, Free and Spirit. Free allows you to replay the stages you've completed already, and Spirit has you run through each level and "collect" spirits in the levels with a timer. I think it was made to entice players to replay the levels, but I don't really know why anyone would want to. Sure, they're pretty and the sound effects are well-done, but we all know by now that graphics don't make the game, and they certainly don't do the trick well enough here that I want to sit through essentially the same path I've figured out before, only again with the spotty mechanics.

This concept behind Storm does have potential, but until it feels more controlled and less like an irritating crapshoot, I'm going to have to pass. The presentation is all well and good, but only when there's a game that's wrapped in that little blanket am I interested. Storm looks like a comfy blanket… until them damn wildfires start up and slowly spread across my controller.
Code provided by publisher. Review based on PSN version. Also available on PC.
  • Looks really, really nice
  • Sounds really, really nice
  • But doesn't play really, really nice
  • Levels aren't fun, so why play them again?
  • Interesting idea to explore in the future, though
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Tags:   PSN, Sony, Indie

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