A Boy and His Pelican
Storm Boy is a classic Australian children’s book written by the legendary Colin Thiele. It’s a classic boy and his pelican tale decades old, telling a beautiful story about the relationship of Storm Boy and one particular pelican he rescued – along with his vivid imagination, adventurous spirit, and daring rescue. It’s been made into a major motion picture with a new film launching in 2019, and it sees a release across all platforms, so anyone can enjoy this adaptation of the timeless classic.
I wondered how Storm Boy would translate into game form and found it to be pretty much what I expected. The game setup reminded me a lot of That Dragon, Cancer, an incredibly emotional interactive visual novel (biopic, more like). In Storm Boy, you control Storm Boy and explore the beach between the Coorong and the sea outside of Adelaide. As you walk along the beach, text scrawls across the screen in exposition, and you’ve given the majority of your narrative through this experience. The biggest drawback from this particular method is that if you move too fast, the text disappears, so you’re required to stop in order to read the sentences that appear.
As you wander the beach, you are given the option of partaking in a number of ‘mini-games’, if you will. One sees you sledding down the side of a sandy hill, while another sees you playing catch with your pet pelican. Major events, like the rescuing and feeding of the three stranded pelicans, must be played. Fortunately, these ones are the most entertaining and provide the most ‘value’, I suppose, as far as gameplay is concerned. There’s a neat sequence where you have to control the pelican as it attempts to rescue men on a vessel during a particularly nasty squall.
Visually, Storm Boy is a simple yet effective presentation. It appears hand drawn and looks much like a moving children’s book. If you haven’t read Storm Boy, you wouldn’t know that it’s actually a pretty complex children’s book, so the oversimplification of the presentation does seem to take away from the final product. Still, if you’re looking for a simple and pretty experience (and maybe an easy trophy or achievement), Storm Boy might fit the bill. The sound in Storm Boy is a mixture of soothing sea tones and atmospheric melodies. It’s something that works behind the presentation as a strong accompaniment, and it serves to enhance the experience. The music isn’t exactly memorable, but the atmosphere the sound creates is permeable.
Overall, your experience with Storm Boy is going to be a quick affair. It’s a sweet story of a bond between child and animal, and the visuals and sound help drive that story home. The gameplay isn’t for everyone, certainly, but I can see myself playing through the game with my daughter – if she were old enough – and having a lovely time. On my own, it was an average but neat experience. The price tag is pretty low on this one, clocking in at $5.99. The achievement/trophy list is pretty simple, too, so if you’re looking for a quick platinum trophy or 1,000 gamerscore, there’s definitely much worse offerings to take. If you have a young child, I can see this being a great game (and it’s definitely a great story) to experience together.