Storm is a relaxing physics puzzle game from indiePub. The gameís concept is simple: Using the power of the elements, guide seeds from trees to fertile ground where they can become more trees. No characters, no grand story, no major conflict. Itís just you, the land, and the seeds, set to extremely relaxing music.
The game starts you off in a pleasant meadow, where thereís a tree with a seed on it, and further to the right, thereís a patch of fertile soil. You also have a single power: Wind. The solution here is simple enough. Just position your cursor near the seed and click. Youíll use the wind to blow the seed off the tree and send it rolling across the grass and onto the soil. Once you do that, the seed becomes a new tree with its own seed. Do that one more time, and youíve cleared the first level. The second level is where the real game begins.
As the game unfolds, youíre given access to three elements in all: Wind, water, and lightning. When you use wind, can blow the seed and some light objects around. When you use water, you cause a rain cloud to form, which can fill up holes and allow the seed to float out of pits. Lightning can cause the seed to jump if it strikes it, and can also be used to destroy logs or blast rocks apart. As you go further into the game and the seasons change, these basic elements can be used to fuel additional effects. For example, in later seasons, lightning can be used to start fires, water can be used to create snow, and wind can be used to create tornadoes you can actually control.
Your access to these elements are, however, limited. They donít carry over; if they did, youíd have a really boring puzzle game. Instead, you generally begin every level with one or two ďchargesĒ of one element. That means you get to use that element one time, and then the orb indicating that charge starts to refill over time. Thatís enough to get the seed off the tree and rolling, but youíll have other ways to expand your capabilities. There are little pickups on each level that contain more elemental charges. You might start off with two charges of water, which you can use to get the seed to roll over a wind pickup, which can help you reach some soil and get in position to grab lightning or another wind pickup.
The core game, known as adventure mode, is a relaxing quality trip through the four seasons, but there are two other modes as well. Free mode lets you replay any level you went through in adventure mode, but youíre timed on your performance. Spirit mode is similar, but there are spirit pickups in the stages, and youíre also given a limited amount of time to complete the stage. Your goal in spirit mode is to collect all the spirits in each stage and make it to the end before time runs out. I canít really see myself being too interested in either of those extra modes, but spirit mode does add significant longevity to the game.
The game is great to look at, and the animations are lovely. The sounds are always soothing and subdued, even the ones you might expect to be startling, such as lightning. The game never compromises on being an aesthetically relaxing experience, and it keeps the same serene mood through the game. My only complaint about the gameís look is that sometimes thereís a little too much green, and it could use a little contrast to make the environment stand out more.
Storm is a solid game, but it does suffer from a few issues. There isnít much in the way of an in-game tutorial. To learn the game, youíre going to have to read the manual (which is only 3 pages long, has huge text, and is largely made of pictures). This is not only important for learning how to use the elements, but also for figuring out other important parts of the game. For example, you can hold down the left control key for a few seconds to send the seed back to the tree it came from. This seems like a feature for undoing a mistake, but a few stages actually require that this feature be used before you can beat them. For example, an early stage requires you to drop the seed down a cliff to grab a wind pickup, but thereís no way to go back up the cliff without using that seed reset button.
There are also a few frustrating things on a technical level. The gameís resolution canít be changed from inside the game, for one. You need to launch a configuration utility to change graphics, and that only lets you change the resolution. The game wonít allow you to play it in a window, either. It always has to be fullscreen. Also, the menus donít have any mouse support. You have to use the arrow keys to select whatever menu option you want to use. The keyboard controls are also a bit awkward, making use of three mouse buttons, the arrow keys, and both control buttons. These cannot be remapped either. I hate to use the word ďconsolizedĒ because itís so overused, and is often used as a knee-jerk reaction, but I really cannot think of any other way to describe this. The game has an option to use an Xbox 360 controller, but I had no success getting the game to recognize my controller.
These issues aside, though, Storm is a great and relaxing puzzle game from an indie developer, and thatís a good thing. Itís definitely worth the $10 asking price. You donít see too many games like Storm around, and with the holidays approaching, itíd make a solid digital stocking stuffer.