REVIEW: Storm Boy (Switch)

A warm introduction of a touching tale.

Storm Boy: The Game is an interactive retelling of the 1964’s children’s book, Storm Boy, by Colin Thiele. Storm Boy delves into specific themes which eases children into topics such as friendship, loss, and behavior of man. Storm Boy, a story about a boy and his pet pelican along the shores of Australia, became beloved enough for a movie adaptation which released in 1976; it was also well-received. With another upcoming movie retelling on the way, the video game adaptation developed by Blowfish Studios is a nice way for both parents and children to experience the tale together in a very accessible way.

The narrative is largely focused on Storm Boy and his pet pelican, Mr. Percival. Sweeping his feet across the powdery sands of an Australian shore, Storm Boy stumbles across a nestling of baby pelicans who are without their mother who has been killed in a recent hunting scenario. A lonesome and friendless Storm Boy takes it upon himself to take in these abandoned pelicans who desperately need care. A tale of friendship soon begins here when the interaction of feeding fish to the hungry Mr. Proud, Mr. Ponder, and Mr. Percival (who all seem appropriately named) draws them closer.

The feeding event is one of several mini-game sequences found throughout Storm Boy. It isn’t long after that Storm Boy’s father, Hide-Away Tom, makes the call to release the pelicans free although it isn’t the wish of Storm Boy himself. However, as the 3 birds fly off, only 2 of them continue onward as Mr. Percival turns around and flies back to Storm Boy to be alongside him. Much of time playing Storm Boy is spent witnessing and controlling the interactions between the two.

Storm Boy’s ease of controls and understanding is meant for simple experience and very light fun in a series of miniature playgrounds which also show the events. Story is told as the players control Storm Boy’s movement mostly left & right. Storm Boy will navigate the environment in an on-rails fashion where certain spots trigger on-screen text that provides the story. At any time, players may stop movement to finish what’s being told before moving on, but players may continue to walk forward and read as they go along. There are no story bits to miss. You may see the text fade away before you had a chance to finish reading, but simple backtracking a few steps behind you will trigger the previous text in-case you wish to read it again.

To change the pace of a novel walkthrough, scattered in between are objects or tiny landmarks that provide flavor to the scene and can be interacted with which will begin that portion’s mini-game. Pressing A will trigger the event. Interestingly, these may be skipped. Although they are worth going through for the experience, they are simply a novelty and designed to be stress-free. In all of the mini-games, there is no end goal or penalization for how you interact within them. There is no challenge so to say, unless we count some minor animation and control stiffness.

Designed with a younger audience in mind, these tiny playgrounds seem like a nice fit for both parents and children to go on this short journey on together. As the story is presented, players will experience the times both Storm Boy and Mr. Percival have shared as well. Pressing Y during mini-games will shortly display the controls and their functions for each mini-game in particular. You may find yourself using a stick to draw in the sand or you may want to go collecting as many sea shells as you can. It’s very pick-up & play friendly especially for first-timers. What kept me wanting to continue the journey is the actual tale of Storm Boy. It can easily create a bit of nostalgia for mature audiences while it creates a sensitive and touching learning experience for younger audiences as it lightheartedly explains certain themes. Something anyone can dive into.

Storm Boy’s presentation is serviceable. There are no extravagant visual effects to catch your eye, but what it does is nice in its own way. There’s actually a painterly aesthetic to its design. Clouds look similarly to it being drawn with a brush. Vegetation on the beach also displays the same type of look. It remains very true to the original illustration and it captures the artwork of the game just right with its cute and charming characters. The music is jolly enough, but fitting.

Storm Boy is a rather short experience. 1 hour in my experience. Much shorter if you skip every event (which why would you?). Once completed, everything played to the end may be repeated as many times as you like. The game runs without a hitch in both docked and handheld to what seems to be 1080p and 720p respectively.

Summary
Storm Boy is charming, cute, touching and very accessible. It's designed with a younger audience in mind, but can be experienced at any age. Some tales are for everyone. Being very pickup & play, both parents and children can experience an easygoing journey together in this faithful retelling of a classic story of a boy and his pet bird; but mainly his friend.
Good
  • Cute, retelling of a classic children's novel.
  • Ease of controls.
  • Simple, but charming art style.
Bad
  • Short.
  • Occasional clunkyness.
7.8
Solid
Gameplay - 8
Visual - 7
Audio - 7
Value - 9

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