Version Played: Xbox One – Also available on: Android, iOS, PS4, Switch, PC, Mac
I hadn’t heard of Storm Boy before coming across the video game adaptation in an Xbox One sale, but the Australian novel it’s based on has been a perenially popular childrens book since its publication in 1966. It’s been adapted into a film twice – once in 1976 and again in 2019.
It’s not the most obvious source material for a game though. The story of a boy and the pelican he befriends as a chick, it’s a gentle tale with a real sadness and tragedy at its core.
The game does its best to sell the friendship between the boy and the bird; it’s very successful at demonstrating this bond. It’s a lovely experience from an audiovisual point of view; the presentation is wonderful, with an absolutely beautiful soundtrack. It’s a very relaxing experience too, for the most part.
Unfortunately, it’s little more than a collection of very thin mini-games of variable quality; the narrative does give you the impetus to proceed to the end, but ultimately the entire package is incredibly short-lived. Even though I spent time unlocking all of the achievements, doing so – and of course, completing the game – took no longer than half an hour in total.
I can’t say that there’s any replay value either; it’s a very linear game with little in the way of interactivity outside of the mini games, which aren’t particularly compelling individually either. Some are frustrating in the way they’re implemented too. The mechanics can feel very half-baked; poorly explained or with imprecise, erratic controls.
As a story then, Storm Boy is a great – albeit short, and somewhat sad – experience. As a game, however, it’s pretty lacking and over far too quickly. It’s not one I can recommend at full price, given its length – but it’s worth playing through if you can pick it up on sale, given its thoughtful nature, lovely audiovisual design and poignant narrative.
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