Art games; yay or nay? For the most part, I like them. They definitely add a nice alternative to the run n’ gun of the CoD generation, and some of them are SO out there, that they are just amazing, new experiences.
However, I feel like art games now suffer from the same problem that The Blair Witch Project created; once that movie became a hit, everybody and their mothers started doing the “found footage/shaky handheld cam” thing, going so far as to use that technique even in quite dialogue scenes (I’m looking at you, Man of Steel). I feel like ever since Flower and then later, Journey became hits, art games started popping up left and right. I can understand why; they’re cheap, small projects usually, and can really allow a developer to present their creativity in a personal way that might not necessarily be encouraged with a major publisher.
The first art game I was exposed to was Flower. It wasn’t meant to blind the player with extreme difficulty; rather, it was meant to present unique gameplay and a gorgeous art style. The game was meant to be a relaxing, ethereal experience. There are other art games out there that throw in puzzles and problem solving which often leads to frustration and rage quitting (at least on my end), but by and large, the game I could most closely compare Storm to is Flower.
Storm has a gorgeous, watercolor art style. It represents the four seasons beautifully, and elemental effects like wind and rain look fantastic. I kept saying to my wife “The rain actually looks ‘wet.’ ” It’s a soothing experience, much like Flower, but the difficulty soon ratchets up pretty quickly. In fact, learning between manipulating the different elements was fairly difficult procedure, and it soon got very frustrating.
In Storm you control the elements like rain and wind to get a seed from Point A (usually where it drops from a tree), to Point B (a patch of fertile dirt). This is done by manipulating the elements and guiding the seed across various landscapes. You do this by moving a cursor around, picking an element, pointing in a direction, and “activation” the element. Levels can be as easy as simply blowing a seed across a bunch of rocks and grass to the dirt, to something as complex as utilizing every element at your disposal to change the landscape by creating bodies of water.
The issue I have with Storm is that I am not sure if it wants to be difficult on purpose, or if it’s difficult due to poorly thought out mechanics. Playing Storm well requires a very deft touch; one that is almost impossible given the amount of control the user actually has through the Dualshock controller. Honestly, this is the sort of game that’s tailor-made for a touch screen device; moving a couple of analog sticks and pressing buttons just doesn’t afford the sort of control needed to make Storm anything other than blindingly frustrating experience.
I’ve had more than one occasion where I beat a level purely by accident. This doesn’t really make me feel like I accomplished anything; yet the preceding level usually isn’t interesting enough for me to go back to retry it. Usually I would be messing around, the seed would accidentally be blown exactly where it needed to be, and I would just think to myself “Oh thank goodness” and move on.
With that being, I spent more time frustrated at the game than enjoying its beautiful presentation. Perhaps by tightening up the gameplay and controls, the game could have had more of an impact, but at the end of my playthrough, I felt no real sense of accomplishment.