Score: 8/10 | INTERACTIVE ADVENTURE | CLASSIC CHILDREN’S STORY | MILD THEMES
“Whilst it only took me 40 minutes to complete the game, and some may think that’s not value for money, for me to experience these vivid memories of those childhood times watching Storm Boy on VHS on school holidays, it was a fun and playful experience worthy of my time.”
Storm Boy is an interactive adventure game retelling the classic 1964 children’s book written by Australian author Colin Thiele. Storm Boy the game was released on November 20, 2018 for all platforms, developed and published by Blowfish Studios. When I first heard this game was in development, I was instantly taken back to my childhood and watching the 1976 movie adaptation of the book. If you can bear the old-school quality, here’s a brief trailer of the original movie to set the scene.
As a child we didn’t have any form of gaming console or PC for those early childhood years until the late 80’s, so the only form of interaction before then was reading books, watching the old TV’s that you had to get up and press the buttons to change the channel, or play outside with my sisters and the next-door neighbours. I liked reading books and Storm Boy, along with another of Thiele’s books Blue Fin, were amongst my favourites. Mum and Dad had also recorded Storm Boy and Blue Fin on VHS tapes, so these movies along with Star Wars were watched religiously every school holidays. As such, I am very fond of the story of Storm Boy.
Storm Boy is a story about a 10-year old boy name Mick who lives with his father Tom on a beach in South Australia. They live in a corrugated iron shed right on the beach and survive off the fish that Tom catches. Mick is an inquisitive boy being taught everything by his father, who resents any form of intrusion on their secluded lifestyle, right down to being annoyed at rubbish that washes up in the sanctuary they live next to and on the beach. Whilst exploring, Mick meets an Aboriginal loner named Fingerbone who gives Mick the nickname Storm Boy and Tom’s nickname becomes Hide-Away. One day some local duck hunters are shooting ducks and on this day, they shot a pelican which Fingerbone remarks that killing a pelican will bring on a great storm. They find three baby pelicans, so Storm Boy takes them home to raise and names them Mr Proud, Mr Ponder and Mr Percival.
As the pelicans grow, their food requirements eventually become too much, and Tom insists the pelicans must be released back into the wild. Mick reluctantly agrees, and they set them free. Two of them don’t return however Mr Percival returns to Mick and they form an attachment like a child would to a cat or a dog. The two are inseparable and so they play on the beach, in sand dunes and out on the ocean on a raft Mick has made.
The game is played by moving Storm Boy right across the screen and narrative story elements of that scene are displayed. If the text disappears too fast you can just run back a bit and it’ll display again. The music is gentle and calming throughout majority of the game, and really sets the tone as a playful and chilled game. As you move along the beach the story’s key plot points are told and you are cleverly put into the life and mind of Mick.
Eventually you will come across mini-game icons as pictured above, and these are not your ordinary difficulty-based mini-games. Some are simply just flying along the beach as an ibis for as long as you like. Others are collecting shells on a beach or feeding the pelicans some fish. Later, you can draw images on the sand with a stick, dive off a raft to explore the water and toss a ball whilst Mr Percival retrieves it for you. These mini-games are designed to put you into the mind of Mick as he daydreams or plays with Mr Percival.
The artwork of all these scenes is just beautiful, to put it simply, and reflects the Australian coastline really well. From the playful beach scenes to the underwater scenes as pictured below showing some nice Pink Snapper, to the dark stormy scenes towards the end of the game. Mixed with the calming music, it really sets the tone and emotions of Mick and his playfulness and adventuring spirit.
As you progress through the story, a great storm hits the coast and a boat is sinking offshore with people on board waving for help. I remember this scene vividly in the movie, and as a child it was a scary thing to watch. I was raised as a fisherman, so knew all well the dangers of boats and storms, and so it was intense to watch but wonderful to see the outcome. I won’t give away what happens then, nor the ending of the film, however needless to say it’s an emotional ride.
As a final parting gesture, the last playable section of the game is just so warm and beautiful and a fitting end to the story that it got me in the feels like it did when I watched it all those years ago for the first time. For someone that loved the movie, I think Blowfish Studios have done a brilliant job of turning this story into an interactive game. Whilst it only took me 40 minutes to complete the game, and some may think that’s not value for money, for me to experience these vivid memories of those childhood times watching Storm Boy on VHS on school holidays, it was a fun experience worthy of my time and a score of 8/10.
This review utilised the Steam version of the game with 40 minutes of gameplay. Storm Boy is available now on Steam, Xbox, Playstation, Nintendo Switch iOS and Android and is rated PG for Mild Themes and Scary Scenes. I would recommend this game to any parents that have young children interested in experiencing Colin Thiele’s storytelling in a fun and easy-to-play game.
Interestingly there is also another movie in the works set for release early next year starring Jai Courtney and Geoffrey Rush. I’ll definitely be checking it out!