Storm is a physics based puzzle game, which requires you to guide a seed from one side of the level to another, so it can be planted in the fertile ground. In the real world, nature sees to this. Seeds are carried in the wind and washed away by the rain, and the cycle is complete. In Storm, you are the one in charge of making this happen, and at your disposal? The weather. Storm has been in development for many years, with an original Summer 2011 release date, so is it worth the huge wait that is usually reserved for the biggest retail titles, or was it a couple of years wasted for Eko Software? Read on to find out!
Using the powers of wind, rain, lightning, tornadoes and more, you must help a seed traverse a variety of environments across the four seasons. Get them to the fertile soil and another tree will grow, bearing another seed. This is literally how the full game works, which is fine with this sort of game. The new powers are introduced slowly, so as to not overwhelm the player with too many buttons to remember. There are also different varieties of seeds (such as heavy, light and one that for some reason explodes after a set time), but you have no control over these, different levels simply have different seeds. It's an interesting way to mix up the gameplay and it means that you don't keep having the same situations with an easy solution; it's always different.
An example of the Braid-inspired artwork of Storm
The difficulty curve for the game is pretty damn steep, as you'll breeze through Spring and most of Summer before it starts to get ridiculously complex. Obviously this is a good thing as nobody wants a game they can fly through in thirty minutes, but it just feels like some of the puzzles get too complex, too early. Many puzzle games straddle the line between fun and infuriating, but this one seems to be leaning a little more heavily towards the wrong side of said line. On the other hand though, the harder it is, the more satisfying it is to finally beat a level that you've been stuck on for half an hour.
The graphics have clearly been influenced by Braid's wonderful, hand-drawn visuals, and though it is not as impressive to look at as Braid, Eko Software have done a good job of mimicking the style. The levels all look very similar, and sometimes it's hard to distinguish the background from the foreground, which is really detrimental to the gameplay as you often need to activate weather powers with accuracy and precise timing. The music is perfect for the game; a beautiful mix of classical, guitar and piano music really relaxes you and suits the theme of the game absolutely wonderfully.
This game proves that lightning is in fact fun to play with
Storm is a great game if you're a hardcore puzzle fan. More casual puzzle gamers may find it a little too difficult around the halfway mark, so keep it in mind if you decide to try out the demo and find it incredibly easy. The graphics are pleasing to the eye, the music is fantastic and the gameplay mechanics are good, but they do get hard when precision is needed. If you have 800 Microsoft points to spare, it would be worth checking out. Just make sure you're ready for a challenge!
by Louis Gardner