STORM review (XBOX Live Arcade)

Storm (indiePub) is one of those unusual games. It takes something that isn’t too unique, yet not too common, and builds on it into an enjoyable and easy to understand title. Unfortunately, it’s not without it’s share of faults. A main part of enjoying Storm is deciding whether or not these small faults ruin what is otherwise a pleasant enough experience.

At it’s heart, storm is a physics based puzzle game in 2D. You start with a tree and a seed; your task is to move the seed to the next patch of fertile soil, and the next if there are more than one. Doing so causes a new tree to grow, which acts as a checkpoint of sorts. The trick in Storm is how you move said seed.

Storm uses the elements of wind, water and lightning. Wind blows, water floods and lifts certain objects up, whilst lighting causes the seed to bounce when you need to, as well as destroying parts of certain levels. The puzzle in each level is finding the right combination to get to the end. This is the enjoyable aspect of Storm, as the early levels quickly get into this, introducing you to each aspect. The tutorial isn’t annoying long and you aren’t stuck using just X element for 5-10 levels. After one or two levels, the game decides you’re ready to go up a notch, and that’s something I heavily appreciate.

Unfortunately, some of the design in the game is lacking. The levels themselves are excellent; even the early levels have some interesting concepts that require a little bit of thinking. Yet one level basically made the checkpoint-tree useless. You had to do something in a certain order and I did it wrong – the checkpoint doesn’t reverse this; it only moves the seed. Restarting because of one mistake can be a mild irritation. Likewise, whilst the design is pleasant and vibrant enough, the parallax foreground would, very rarely, get in the way. This happened only once or twice, but it’s another design flaw that should of arguably been looked at.

Over all, the first half of the game is highly enjoyable in this regard, but the latter half introduces aspects that are… difficult to work with. There’s a tornado option that requires you to hold down a button, twiddle the stick, then move the stick to move the tornado, whilst using shoulder buttons to awkwardly angle it. It’s a lot of control for minimal effect, compared to the more intuitive and understandable controls used throughout the rest of the game.

All in all, I don’t hate it, and I’d argue these faults don’t make the game unplayable. Every game has a few annoying faults here and there and, for the most part, Storm has some pleasant moments with some compelling puzzles that, thankfully, don’t cause you to rage-quite. At only 800 MP, there are worse games to pick up. If you like casual puzzle or physics games, then this is something worth looking at.