Let’s get started on this Against The Storm review.
What is Against The Storm?
Against The Storm is a rougelite, strategy, city-builder game set in a dark fantasy world with everlasting rain. You are the Scorched Queen’s Viceroy tasked to set up various settlements for her. There are beavers, lizards, harpies, humans, and countless buildings to carry out your city creation.
Mixing rougelite elements with a city building is a unique take but does it hold up?
Who Makes Against The Storm?
Against The Storm is made by Eremite Games. They are a small team of 5 indie developers located in Poland. Against the Storm is their main game.
The game has been in early access for quite some time but officially launches on Nov 1, 2022.
Which Platforms is Against The Storm On?
Against The Storm is available on Steam, Gog, and Epic.
Against The Storm Gameplay Review
Against the Storm has some really unique gameplay elements. Each map will start with a basic hearth, storage, and some units and access to some basic city buildings. There will also be some resource nodes on the map. The nodes will be randomized for each map, each time. Every game will be unique, as well as how you will win it. One thing to note here, there is nothing ‘attacking’ the city. The danger in this game is presented by way of the storm.
Against The Storm Tutorial
Against the Storm starts with a brief tutorial. It gives you the very very basics of how things work and what to look for. As with all simulation builders though, there is so so so much more to explore and uncover.
You will likely play and lose the first few times as really there is so much going on and the tutorial only gives you the very very basics. This is typical in simulation games of this nature, but I wish there was a little bit more information explained and played through. Just be prepared.
How to Play Against the Storm
In each round of Against the Storm, you will select a location on the map to try and create a settlement in. Each location will offer different modifiers, benefits, and disadvantages. You also can select a few items that you automatically start with.
The point of the game is to get the required amount of Reputation points to satisfy the Queen. At the same time, the Queen will slowly become more irritated. If the Queen reaches max irritation (red bar) before you reach max reputation (blue bar) the game will end and you will lose.
You can increase your reputation in 3 ways. Workers Resolve, Completing Orders, or Explore and Complete Events. You will likely do a combination of these to reach your goal. Let’s go over them briefly!
How to increase your Village Worker’s Resolve
You will have up to 3 different species of workers in a game – a combination of Humans, Beavers, Lizards, and Harpies. Each of these workers will have different needs and wants to make them happy. Some are all shared, like a house shelter. Others are things like food preferences(Jerky, Biscuits, Pickled Goods, etc) and entertainment wants(Religion, Brawling, Leisure, etc).
In order to fulfill these needs and make them happy you will need to produce many different items from many different buildings. If the worker’s happiness (or Resolve the game calls it) is met then you will slowly gain reputation that will change with how pleased they are.
You will be required to branch out and expand your city with various buildings. Each day will be a rain cycle – Drizzle followed by a Storm. Again on each map, there will be different benefits during Drizzle and harmful effects during the night storm. As the game progresses the harmful effects will increase. Sometimes you can do various things to combat these harmful effects, but sometimes you can’t. In extreme effects, you can lose workers and even buildings, so it’s worth paying attention to.
During the nightly storm as well as various other debuffs, the worker’s resolve can get quite low. If it reaches 0 or less you have the chance to start losing characters. This can happen quite rapidly and really mess up your plans.
As the game progress, at certain intervals, you will unlock the ability to pick an order. These will be random objectives that will be required to be delivered to the queen. They can be easy or sometimes quite complicated. In the early parts of the game, when you don’t have much unlocked for Character resolve, these orders will be very important to progression. If you pick some really hard ones early on, your game may seriously suffer! I had several games where things were just frozen and I couldn’t unlock any buildings because I picked too hard early objectives. Tread wisely.
Explore and Complete Events
This one can be tricky. You need to use your woodcutters to create a path to the various mist-filled groves located around the map. When you open the grove up it will show random items inside. If you open a Dangerous or Forbidden grove, you will get a large number of potential resources to interact with as well as one Cursed Event.
This event may require you to deliver certain items or just have workers work on them. During the time the cursed event item is being worked on you will usually be hit with some pretty nasty debuffs like -50 resolve a minute, or food items in storage perish every 20 seconds. If you just leave these items there and don’t work on them, the Cursed events after some time become even worse!
Exploration is a great way to get access to new resources, but also can really flip the game quickly if you don’t have a way to complete the event.
You will not have access to all of the buildings at all times. You will need to pick and choose from a list of random buildings when you reach certain reputation milestones. There are LOTS of different types of buildings.
Picking poorly can seriously increase your chances of losing the game. If you are trying to focus on improving character resolve and don’t have a building that can produce the right results you will be out of luck. Your game can also stop improving if you don’t have the right resources that these buildings produce.
Every so often you will also receive a cornerstone event from the Queen. These events also vary greatly and will be different each time you play. These are usually some kind of perk or bonus that can change the entire course of how you play when you receive them. You select one and can not change it.
You will also usually receive new units at the same time that will come bringing various resources to help your city under the event called Newcomers.
There is a whole article that could be devoted to the trader’s section. As you continue to level you will get access to the trading post and this allows you to have a trader caravan stop in and offer you items to purchase including occasionally Cornerstones and City Building blueprints. This is also a great way to get some additional resources your city is lacking, all if you have the right amount of amber of course.
You can also sell to different cities around the map based on the requests they have. There are generally a few Orders or Cornerstones than can greatly help out your trader’s section if you wish to explore this and think you will have enough of the resources people are looking for.
End of the Round
After each settlement is created if you win you will receive various rewards that you can use for game upgrades. If you level up enough you will receive new buildings that can be unlocked.
After 4 different rounds, the storm will become too great and you will return to the Smouldering City for an animation. Your previous cities will be destroyed and the next 4 rounds of gameplay will start.
These upgrades and end-of-round are what make the game a rougelite. Even though everything is wiped out, you maintain these upgrades to help make the next round easier.
Deeds and Upgrades
As you complete each round, win or lose, you will unlock some resources that you can use to upgrade the smoldering city. These upgrades offer some great benefits. Things like all workers gathering faster, or permanently unlocking a blueprint. As you continue to play and unlock some of these upgrades they can make your round significantly easier. Many unlock new features like traders, workers, or daily explorations. There is so much to unlock it can be hard to choose which to focus on first.
Deeds are the achievements of the game. Completing the specific request will unlock some additional EXP to help you level, as well as some unlock actual Steam Achievements.
So how does all this play out?
Now that we have covered the most very basic understanding of how the game plays we can get into the review. As you can see the game has many different variables that can greatly impact how the game plays and turns out. What’s great about Against the Storm is that there is a choice between almost all the elements that can happen to you in the game. Each Cornerstone or Order you select is one of several. When you decide to open a cursed Dangerous grove, the resulting curse is on you because YOU chose to open it.
It’s like a city builder “Choose your own Adventure”. This is a different and unique take on strategy games where typically after X minutes an army comes to attack you and there is nothing you can do about it. In Against the Storm, if things start going bad in your game, the blame rests clearly on you.
Although the learning curve is steep as there are so many things going on, once you start to get it, the gameplay is ridiculously addictive. There are so so so many different ways to tackle the things that are happening to you. You could try a round of focusing mainly on exploration and tackling only cursed groves. You could make a trade center hub and work on only doing trade with other cities. You can focus on all of the character’s resolve, (or even just one) and make sure it has everything it needs to thrive. You can focus on picking easier orders and knocking them off quickly. Or you can do parts of all these at the same time.
Each game will be unique. Each game is the choices you make. The Deeds and Upgrades help unlock new features and keep things fresh.
The developers are still very active in the community and the product has been in early access for a long time ensuring a smooth play experience with no bugs.
Against the Storm Graphics and Sound
The art style in Against the Storm is fantastic. It has a real Dark fantasy feel with hand-painted unique characters, buildings, and maps. The maps are detailed and quite intricate. There are many different areas to explore and each will have a unique art style to go with the area. Beautiful!
There is a haunting vocal track that plays in the background. Sort of instrumental with a bit of a vocal melody over top. It’s really quite enjoyable. Each building has a unique sound if you click on it and zoom in. Wood chopping at the woodcutter and bubbling at the alchemist. It’s a nice little touch.
Who Will Enjoy Playing Against The Storm?
There is no official rating on Against The Storm. There are some spooky themes, but no blood or graphic violence. There are some minor alcohol references. I would expect it would be T for Teen, but if younger players were interested in this type of game it would probably be ok. If you like indie games, city building, simulation games, or even a rouguelite then you will like Against The Storm
What Games are similar to Against The Storm?
Any city builder-type game would be similar. Cities skylines, Rimworld, No Place Like Home, or Two Point Campus would be similar.
How long is Against The Storm?
There are endless hours of content here. I have currently played about 40 hours so far and have hardly hit level 10. Because each map is procedurally generated, including all the events, cornerstones, etc… each map is different and unique, including the way you will tackle trying to beat them. Truly endless hours of gameplay.