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Storm

How many puzzle games would you estimate to be out on the gaming market currently?  Thousands?  Tens of thousands?  Millions?  Frankly, I lost count.  There comes a point though where one or two puzzle games stick out in your mind every time the genre is mentioned.  “Storm”, I discovered, is one such game.  In this particular puzzle game, you’ll be tasked with guiding a seed to fertile soil so that it can grow and prosper into something grand.  It sounds simple, but the gameplay elements and ambience will reel you back in, making you hunger for more.  Before we get started with the review, I’d like to thank Benjamin Cestac from Neko Entertainment for providing me with a free review copy.

Storm

Storm (Windows, XBox 360, PS3)

The main menu allows the player to participate in three different game modes and adjust game options.  Adventure mode serves as the main campaign, which sees the player through a total of forty-nine levels across four seasons.  Free mode allows the player to go back and replay any of the levels completed or skipped in adventure mode.  Spirit mode is like a time-trial / challenge mode that tasks the player with gathering all of the spirits around a level within the time alloted.  The options menu addresses audio levels, interface position, and XBox 360 controller support.  It’s worth noting that before the game booted up, I was given the option to adjust screen resolution via a window pop-up.  Also worth noting is that you can only access that pop-up by starting the game through Steam, not by clicking on your desktop shortcut.  I think this is a tad inconvenient and I hope plans are in the works to just add this functionality to the in-game options menu.  I know a lot of Unity Engine games feature the pop-up, but exiting out of the game to change your resolution can be a pain.

So what exactly will you be doing in this game?  To sum things up, you’ll start the level with a seed on one side of the map and must see it to fertile ground using nature and the elements.  Using water, wind, and lightning, you’ll be able to create a path for your seed so that it can make its way to its destination.  Water makes objects float, creates snow, and puts out fires.  Wind will assist you in moving object and even creates tornadoes.  Lighting moves and breaks objects, ignites summer grass, and makes seeds jump.  Each of these three powers have charges underneath their respective icon, which fill up over time and allow you to make use of their abilities.  As levels progress, you’ll need to populate all of the fertile spots on the map (which is no easy task).  You’ll quickly discover that you’ll have to use all of the elements and make them work together if you want to advance to the next stage.

Storm

Need to get high up? Look for bubbles, and make the rain come!

In addition to using three different elements to get your seed from Point A to Point B to Point C, you’ll have to contend with different seed types.  The heavy seed type, for example, sinks in water and is slow to move.  The light seed, on the other hand, moves easy and floats in water.  Ephemeral seeds have a lifespan of about twenty seconds, and the fragile seed is easy to break.  Each seed will vary your strategies slightly and force you to consider alternate ways to make use of your elemental powers.

I mentioned above that the game has a lot of ambience…though I may be underselling things a bit.  The game, put simply, is downright gorgeous.  The weather effects and detailed backdrops made me feel like I was actually there.  This both surprised me and didn’t.  Having played and reviewed “Puddle” (another game published by Neko Entertainment), I was already familiar with how sharp and colorful a puzzle game could actually be.  Where “Puddle” is a fast-paced, guiding ooze at warp speed kind of game, “Storm” is much more laid back and allows you to take things at your own pace.

Storm

If you mess up, you can teleport your seed back to the last tree by holding the left control key.

When it comes down to it, “Storm” is truly a fantastic achievement.  The puzzles themselves are challenging and will keep you engaged for quite a while.  If the puzzles don’t draw you in, the ethereal beauty most certainly will.  Its beautiful atmosphere and ambience, I found, helped to calm me down after a stressful day at the office.  The music was equally as soothing.  I’d often just sit there and enjoy the experience, even after I had solved a particular puzzle in my head.  For you parents out there, you’ll be pleased to know that the game is family-friendly, making it suitable for players of all ages.  Four profile slots exist, so you’ll be able to pass the game on to others in the house without worrying about them messing with your progress.  On the downside, the way the options are laid out and the lack of mouse support on the main menu can be somewhat annoying.  The question remains, “is this game right for you?”  To put it bluntly, “Storm” is one puzzle game that you won’t want to pass up.  The game retails normally for $9.99, but is on sale for $7.49 on Steam (link below) until July 4, 2013.  If you’re a fan of games like “Puddle” and enjoy a challenge, then my advice would be to give it a shot!

Final Verdict: 9/10

You can learn more about and purchase “Storm” by visiting the following websites:

http://www.stormthegame.com/

http://www.e-neko.com/?lang=en

http://store.steampowered.com/app/231020/

You can view video play sessions here:

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