Storm tries hard, but its poor controls and instability will prompt you to scream up a storm of swear words.
Storms are at the forefront of North America’s mind thanks to the onslaught of Hurricane Sandy. Eko Software, on the other hand, is more interested in presenting a kinder, gentler storm—a storm that breathes life into the world instead of tearing it up and throwing it down on your car. Storm is an action/puzzle game with wonderful ideas and pretty presentation, but playing it is as frustrating as trying to get your picnic table down from your roof.
Storm is broken up into several levels, and the object of each level is to shake a seed from a tree and direct it to fertile soil, where it can grow into a new tree. Ah, nature’s ballet. You can only move the seed with the power of the elements, including wind (which blows the seed around), water (which carries it along), and lightning (which destroys obstacles and makes the seed “jump” over gaps, if your timing is all right). Oftentimes, you need to grow several trees in a level in order to complete it.
Storm operates on a concept that’s simple to grasp, but manipulating the elements takes a great deal of trial-and-error—especially since the game’s instructions are vague, and hints are few and far between. For example, you need to click and drag the mouse in order to make the wind blow in the direction you want, but there aren’t any in-game instructions that make this obvious, so you’re stuck blindly clicking in hopes that the seed will tumble into its soil bed.
Things don’t get much better when you do figure out how to work the wind. Storm‘s controls are generally unresponsive. If, for instance, you don’t instruct the wind to blow exactly at points where the game wants it to blow, then it won’t move the seed. This becomes especially frustrating when the seed goes airborne and you need to navigate it around cliffs and rocks.
Storm certainly looks and sounds pretty: it presents itself with soft greens and gentle greys, and the sound of wind and birds is lovely. Unfortunately, Eko went a touch overboard with the rain effects. Raindrops spatter on your “camera,” which adds a touch of realism—but the droplets also distort your view of the playing field, which makes it hard to track the seed on its journey.
Finally, Storm has a lot of stability issues. The game crashes often on startup and between levels.
Storm tries hard to be artistic and relaxing, so it’s a shame to have to point out why it doesn’t succeed. But given time, effort, and a few patches from Eko Software, there may come a time when playing it will be a genuinely relaxing experience instead of a frustrating chore.