December 3rd, 2020

Firechick's Game Reviews: Storm Boy

I give this short game about a boy and his pet pelican...a 55/100.

Some time ago, I found this game on Steam, which seemed interesting, especially since it's based on a book written by an obscure Australian author. I bought it on Steam but it didn't run too well on there, so I refunded it. Then I found it was on the Nintendo Switch and decided to buy it. I knew it'd be somewhat of a short game, seeing as it was at a very low price, but short games can be good in their own way, right? Well...after playing Storm Boy, I must admit I came out rather disappointed. The story is about an unnamed boy who lives with his reclusive father by a beach. One day, he comes across three baby pelicans without their mother. He and his father raise them until they grow up and learn to fend for themselves. One of the pelicans, whom he names Mr. Percival, returns and becomes the boy's best friend. That's really all there is to it.

This is especially apparent because the gameplay is...non-existent. All the game really requires you to do is move in one direction and play some inconsequential mini games. Even if you opt out of the mini games, you aren't penalized for doing so. The mini games aren't much except for collecting shells, feeding pelicans, riding the ocean on a wooden sailboat, directing Mr. Percival to a boat, and so on, and you don't really get anything out of them. No rewards nor penalties. Plus, the game has literally nothing in terms of its content. It just tells of the boy and his adventures with Mr. Percival, and rather than showing it, the game just uses text from the book that pops up as you make the boy run in one direction. I mean, you can literally finish the game in 15 minutes flat if you don't spend too much time on the mini games. It has very little, if any real content to really utilize.

In all honesty, the only things the game has going for it are the graphics and the soundtrack, both of which are very good. The game never skimps on the details in the environment, like the wild grass, the sand dunes, and the harsh oceans during a storm. Everything is rendered in loving detail, giving it an almost summer-like quality, which is fitting since the game takes place at a beach. The only thing is that the humans are given dot eyes and more simplistic designs, which makes the backgrounds stand out more. It doesn't hurt the game in any way, though. The soundtrack is fairly nice too, if nothing to really write home about, with plenty of soft, mellow piano and flute tunes, always at a low volume and never trying to be louder than it needs to be. It helps the soundtrack is used really well, knowing when to be subtle and when it just doesn't need to be used, accentuating the nuances of a scene.

But as much as it pains me to say this, that's really all the good things I can say about the game. It's not bad in any way, but it just feels so barebones. I guess this is what comes of me expecting it to have more content than it has, being spoiled by other games that had much more content. I kind of hate being critical of this game though, as whoever worked on it clearly put effort into it, and hey, it does make for a nice time killer for if you want to waste 15-20 minutes. But as it stands, the game doesn't really have much to offer on its own. The characters aren't given much personality or development, the storyline is terribly predictable to the point where you can see certain twists coming from a mile away, and the gameplay is just non-existent. I wouldn't recommend this for hardcore gamers, but more for people wanting to kick back and relax a bit. All in all, Storm Boy isn't anything special.