Storm Review (PSN)
Storm is an exercise of supreme patience. By the end of the game, Storm seemed less about solving puzzles and more about attempting to impart patience by repetitive and random failure.
Storm is a “zen” style puzzler. The graphics are beautiful, each stage is like a painting, and players interact within this painting. The music is very peaceful – the game is broken up into seasons of twelve stages and each season has a musical theme to go with it. Sound effects are fantastic. The game is also short and can be played in bite-sized increments.
Storm is physics-based puzzle game in which players move seeds through the level to varying locations using weather elements: wind blows seeds back and forth; rain carries seeds or fills up areas; lightning can destroy parts of the level or simply make the seeds jump. Different seasons have different effects as well. For instance, during the Summer season, lightning can cause brush fires to open up new areas or destroy what lightning cannot reach. Timing is also important in solving puzzles, since these elements must often work in concert with one another to complete puzzles. The developers have succeeded in creating levels which often require a great deal of cause and effect.
It’s just a shame the game is terrible to play and relies mostly on luck to complete.
Storm’s biggest flaw is the same physics engine that fuels its gameplay. It’s very common for the physics engine to cause the seed to get hung up on small areas the player has filled with materials or elements, especially when there are multiple steps to complete before the seed reaches its destination. No big deal; retries and seeds are unlimited, so just try again. But then it’s fifteen tries later, and still nothing is going right. It’s especially frustrating when the solution is in front of you but some part of the physics engine randomly stops progress. A random interference does not belong in puzzle games, especially Storm; which relies on the fluidity of the elements to work together to complete puzzles. If this happened occasionally it would have been okay. However, this flaw happens all the time in the second half of the game, to the point where it cannot be written off as a product of trial and error gameplay.
Storm has replay value attached to it – there’s Free Mode, which is actually a time trial mode; and there’s Spirit Mode, where players collect spirits before a timer runs out. Every time a stage is beaten, players can play it via Free or Spirit mode. Beating the game has the most interesting bonus of all, though, since the game restarts at the first level, so it locks out all of the levels in the other modes, meaning players have to play again. It’s like getting a kick in the crotch as a parting shot.
I did not enjoy playing Storm. The constant need to start over due to what I perceive as a flaw in the core system of the game ruined any enjoyment. This flaw is not as prevalent in the first dozen levels but becomes magnified by the last season. The worst part is there are players who may not encounter the level of resistance I encountered since it is entirely random. Storm may be worth it for die hard puzzle players; but should be avoided at all costs by anyone else – there are tons of better puzzlers than this.