Storm Review


Xbox LIVE Arcade was once the premier place for little indie games with big ideas to flourish. Limbo. Braid. Trials HD. Super Meat Boy. Now, Microsoft’s fragmentation of its own online marketplace in the wake of numerous dashboard updates – along with the fast-approaching next generation with this year’s Xbox One – have made XBLA’s cutting-edge relevance a thing of the past. Oddly, the same fate does not seem to have befallen the PlayStation Store, where a deluge of digital sales and indie promotions (along with those oh-so-sweet PlayStation Plus deals) have kept it afloat even in the face of the PS3’s imminent obsolescence. Storm is a game that came to both digital platforms recently, and it’s everything that’s good and bad about games made by studios that don’t have unlimited budgets.

StormStorm is a physics-based puzzle platformer where you have to move a seed over, under, and through a variety of obstacles from one point in the two-dimensional level to another… and another, etc. You do this with the power of nature – wind blows and rolls your seed across the ground, rain floats it and fills holes, and lightning makes it jump. You combine these three elements and their powered-up varieties (in limited but rechargeable quantities) to get through four seasons, which each have their own trials and tribulations.

Summer is the dry season, for example, where lightning has the added effect of lighting fires that will destroy your seed but also can be used to clear fallen logs from your path. There are also other varieties of seeds adding layers to the challenge, such as one that dissolves after twenty seconds, one that doesn’t float, and a seed that cracks if it falls too far. There’s plenty of variety to be found in a game that, at first glance, doesn’t appear all that different from one stage to the next.

It’s an unhurried game backed by a lovely classical score highly reminiscent of the piano-heavy portion of the Final Fantasy VII soundtrack. Once you come to grips with the sometimes-imprecise physics and figure out that you need to plan the path from point A to point B before you even blow your first seed, the amount of “YESSSSS!” moments when you pass a tricky puzzle and the number of times you’ll say “Just one more stage!” make this a truly great puzzle game.

StormIt’s a very methodical type of puzzler that toes the line between challenging and frustrating, and it’s not until the final season that there are any sort of reflex-heavy puzzles (mostly revolving around using wind and lightning at the same time for some long jumps). A handful of “Wild Seeds” are also included to let you skip a particularly tricky level if you get stumped (I had to use only one during my initial playthrough, but when replaying that level after I’d completed all 49 stages, the answer had become obvious). If you want a more fast-paced challenge, there’s even a sort of time trial mode unlocked after completing the levels in the main campaign. “Spirit Mode” involves hitting certain points on each stage with your seed to rescue spirits as quickly as you can. Both the main and Spirit modes have leaderboards for competitive types.

The bottom line is that Storm is a terrific mechanical puzzle game… but that’s all it is. There doesn’t seem to be any deeper meaning to be gleaned from our slight control over nature. There isn’t a lot of replay value past the leaderboards and Spirit Mode – no multiplayer or create-a-puzzle mode, for example. There’s no story to speak of, giving us the motivation to see our seed safely to the exit. On the contrary, holding down the B button (on Xbox 360) self-destructs your seed and immediately lets you grow a new one with no consequence. We’ve already seen games like Portal and Thomas Was Alone use a soft spoken narrator to make us care about inanimate objects without sounding pretentious. Limbo told a story without words. Braid used storybooks. Storm is more like Tetris: “Here are puzzles.” But Tetris was from the mid-80s, and it’s now 2013. We’ve come to expect more.

Storm has an easy-going atmosphere that makes your brain work without being overly difficult, and it’s all backed by a beautiful soundtrack. While that’s all well and good, however, it’s simply not enough anymore.


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Author: Nick Simberg View all posts by
Nick has been gaming since before he was born. He was weaned on the original Legend of Zelda and sees the recent entries as far too easy. Today, he has a beard and usually spends his nights writing for his own self-made game blog,

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