I will fully admit that I'm not educated in Australian literature. Ask me what comes from Australia and the best I can tell you is Babadook. I'm pretty sure that's a movie with a book in it and not an actual book. So when I saw Storm Boy: The Game, I will admit it's the first I've ever heard of the book as well. Still, I'm always game to learn about my brothers from down under. Is this an adaption worth playing, or has the size of this storm been overstated?
You play as Storm Boy, a young child living isolated in Australia with only his father, Hide-Away Tom, and a local Aboriginal man named Fingerbone Bill. One day Storm Boy comes across three baby pelicans, who he decides to raise as his own. Over time he forms a bond with Mr. Percival, his favorite of the three, and from there the story is mostly about the bond they make. The game is a direct adaption of the book and is mostly told through text which means you'll probably know what it'll say word for word if you've read the book. This is a simple enough tale and manages to work for the game's very short 30 minutes run time.
When it comes to playing Storm Boy, you don't have to do much. Most segments have you doing little more than running from right to left or vice versa. There's no platforming or puzzles of any kind, just text that you can read. However, even this little bit doesn't quite feel like it works right. The text pops up when you enter certain areas. Said areas are so small that you'll often miss the text unless you stop running. This means you're constantly running a short distance, stopping to read, then running some more. It feels awkward.
Occasionally you'll hit something interactive, and these start little minigames for you to play. I say minigame in the loosest sense here, as most of them are just different ways to move back and forth. Storm Boy can dream he's a bird or slide down sand dunes but both of these are just fancy movement screens where you don't do much. Some minigames have you throwing things, like fish to the three pelicans or a ball for Mr. Percival to fetch. Again, cute, but there's little game to it.
In fact, of the nine minigames, there's only one that has any sort of challenge. You'll play as Mr. Percival as he flies out to a boat in a storm. Your goal is to fight against strong winds and stay on the screen. It's simple enough and works for its one story beat. Outside of that, it's not something that has any sort of replay value.
The truth is that Storm Boy just isn't really the kind of book that works as a game adaption. That's not to say the story isn't worth telling, but you're often doing very little other than re-reading the same text in the book while running from left to right. It's about the same amount of work as just reading the book itself, and I think that'd be a better idea as you won't have to get interrupted by weird gameplay segments along the way.
At least it looks lovely. Storm Boy is a pretty game, thanks to a fantastic graphic style that makes everything look like a painting. There's also a great soundtrack to go with the game, mostly quiet pianos, and string instruments that complement the scenery. However, there is no voice acting and this actually feels like a loss. A narrator would do wonders, solving the problem of awkwardly stopping to read text every time you get going.
Storm Boy: The Game Review | Final Thoughts
I appreciate what Storm Boy: The Game is trying to do here. It really does feel like the developers lovingly attempted to bring the book to an unexpected format. The story manages to hold up despite a poor telling, but beautiful graphics can't excuse the minimal gameplay Ultimately you have an adaption that's hard to recommend. I'd suggest just reading the book instead.
TechRaptor reviewed Storm Boy: The Game on PlayStation 4 with a copy provided by the developers. The game is also available on PC, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, iOS, and Android.
- Sweet, Emotional Story
- Fantastic Graphics and Soundtrack
- Text Moves Too Fast
- Boring Minigames
- Extremely Short