Although heartbreaking, Colin Thiele’s Storm Boy is such a sweet, sweet game.
Anyone familiar with the book the game is based on, will be familiar with the story of a little boy (Storm Boy) and a pelican (Mr. Percival) who become friends on a beach in Australia.
You play as the titular character, Storm Boy, and the story is told in text as you direct him through the game. The controls are simple, which is to be expected from an indie title with such a short amount of playtime. Storm Boy can be played from beginning to end in less than 30 minutes, which makes it a good game to play if you want to sit and relax for just a little while before making dinner or whatnot. 😛
From the opening scene, I was blown away at the art style in this game. It’s as if you stepped into a painting or particularly well-designed picture book and I can admit to having stood a long while just watching the beach grass blowing in the wind and listening to the sounds of the ocean.
Like I said, this is a pretty short game, there are a handful of mini-games where you get to dig up mussels, feed the pelicans, or play in the sand. They are both cute and fun to play as they help add an interactive element to what would otherwise be a plain (if gorgeous) walking simulator.
Now, if you’re familiar with the picture book, then you know that Storm Boy and Mr Percival become close friends, even though Storm Boy’s father advises against it. They spend their days together playing catch on the beach and enjoying the freedom of wide open spaces… because of their games, Mr Percival is even able to help save a group of fishermen during a storm!
He is a hero to them and to Storm Boy.
But, as many stories do, Storm Boy doesn’t get a happy ending. As you continue playing, a new type of character is introduced… hunters. Mr Percival, smart bird that he is, has a great dislike for the hunters and does his best to foil their plans. The bright pelican begins to warn the ducks when hunters are near, flying over them constantly and keeping the ducks away.
Eventually, one frustrated hunter shoots Mr Percival.
“And at nine o’clock Mr Percival died.”
It’s a heartbreaking moment for both Storm Boy and the player, even though you’ve only played for a short while, as you learn that there are cruel and stupid people in the world who care only for themselves. It’s a sad lesson, but one that everyone learns in life.
The end of this lovely, heartbreaking, game is just as beautiful as the rest. As Mr Percival’s spirit, you fly through the clouds towards the post he used to roost on and get to see Storm Boy as he remembers his friend…
Storm Boy is forever changed by his friendship with Mr Percival and the player learns that “…birds like Mr Percival do not really die.”
Stats and stuff…
Title: Storm Boy
Developer: Blowfish Studios
Genre: Adventure, Family
Trophy difficulty: Easy