Eko Software has recently released their brand new physics based puzzle game, Storm, to PC, XBLA, and PSN. Published by Namco Bandai and indiePub Entertainment, the $10 puzzler takes the physics of nature to guide players on a journey through the seasons. Storm looks to mellow players out with tranquil background music and ambient sound effects but keep a sense of challenge and accomplishment with well thought out puzzles placing players in control the weather elements to essentially act as the god of pollination by moving the seeds of trees to fertile new ground making the 49 levels in the world of Storm a greener place.
Storm starts off simple by only giving players a gust of wind to knock the seed out of the tree and blow it up and over a hill to roll onto a patch of ground to grow into a new tree. Each level thereafter complicates the formula just a bit further by changing up the terrain or adding more elements like rain and lightning to mix and match. Each element affects the environment in a couple different ways such as rain filling a dip a raising a broken branch to act as a bridge or creating a rush of water giving the seed a surfer’s ride.
Storm features 4 seasons separated out into 12 days/levels each. Early levels focus on the planning of moving the seed but eventually timing and cursor control become more important almost to the point of being pixel perfect with positioning. This change in focus is unfortunate because most of the charm of the game is the set up of more elaborate puzzles under the docile tones of the soundtrack. The sluggish cursor does not help the more action oriented gameplay needed for the later levels either. Fortunately there are no time limits on completing the levels and restarting is just a menu away.
Story mode isn’t the only gameplay option in Storm. Spirit mode has players moving the seed through checkpoints and collecting spirits along the way under the pressure of being timed creating a completely different experience from the take your time aspect of the story mode. The Free Mode features the same world as the story but without the constraints of the levels giving the players the ability to free roam with the world of Storm.
Storm features a colorful palette backed by an attractive set of particle effects to showcase the beauty of nature. From fog to rainfall to the glowy cursor under the player’s control, the special effects just look great on the vivid backdrops. The visuals are augmented by a soundtrack of soft keyed pianos mixed with the airy innocent lower keyed clarinets and flutes creating a mellow atmosphere. Most of the sound effects based on actual gameplay feel extremely muted in comparison to the background music removing an opportunity for great feedback to the player. The impact of activating a nature power would seem more responsive with wailing wind or a loud snap for lightning at the button press.
Storm is an interesting take on physics puzzler genre but unfortunately a few nagging elements keep the grass of being truly greener on Storm’s side of the fence. Because of the art style and music, it seems as if the developers were attempting to draw inspiration from PSN titles like Flower but the style of gameplay didn’t quite match up with that style leaving us with a game that feels as though it is missing something.