Review: Weather Lord (PC)

Weather Lord (PC)
Publisher: Alawar Entertainment
Developer: Alawar Entertainment
Genre: Time Management
Release Date: 04/25/2012

When looking for the next game I could review for Diehard GameFAN, I asked for a short game that I’d be able to do on top of grad school finals, and Weather Lord was the game given to me. I’d previously reviewed one of of Alawar Entertainment’s games–Alice and the Magic Gardens–and kind of liked it, so I figured this would probably be along the same line of quality. The “box art” (it’s a digital download, so technically no actual box) looked interesting but told me nothing about the game other than it had something to do with the weather, which I could have gathered from the title. Given what I knew of the company, I figured that I would be dealing with a quirky Facebook-style game. I didn’t think that the game would make me question my sanity. In fact, if I didn’t know any better, I’d think that the editors hate me.

The first thing I noticed when I booted the game up was that the title of the game on the Alawar website is Weather Lord but the title screen actually has Weather Master. The music was also incredibly annoying. I felt an odd sense of foreboding, but pushed it down and went to options to take it out of full screen mode, which I find unnecessary for these types of games. This is particularly true as the graphics tend to be blurrier than usual when played in full-screen.

Trying to take it off full screen in the options menu froze the game. Not just once, but every time.

Fine, I thought to myself. I’ll just suck it up and play it in full screen.

So I started the game. I quickly learned that it was going to be my job to control the weather in Mother Nature’s place. With suns, clouds, and wind in my arsenal, it was supposed to be my duty to attach different weather patterns to various types of land, from vineyards and orange groves in the beginning of the game to cocoa plantations, pineapple crops, and even cities and volcanoes later on in the game. As the game continues, you open up more combinations that you can make. Initially you can only make rainclouds (by combining two clouds) and partially sunny skies (sun + cloud), but eventually you’ll also be able to make thunderstorms (rainclouds + wind) or sun-showers with rainbows (rainclouds + sun), among other things. You can either double-click the weather combinations you’ve made or drag them up to a small circle with a hammer on it to separate them into their baser parts (for example, drag rainclouds there to get two clouds). I don’t recommend doing either of these things. Double clicking sometimes reconnects the pieces, and you have to be very careful with dragging the combinations up because sometimes it doesn’t register that it was in the circle. Instead, just sell what you don’t need. There’s no penalty for doing this; you get 100% of your money back and can buy whatever else you need.

Once you go through the steps of providing each land with the correct sequence of weather, you’ll be asked to collect the fruit and vegetables, and in some levels you’ll even be asked to send that food to the factory to be made into juice/powder/some canned product. This will net you money. Likewise, there will be solar/wind farms where you can collect energy. You can use money and energy to upgrade your farms so they net more food each cycle or to fulfill stage requirements. Sometimes, in addition to food requirements, the roads will have been ruined by a storm and you’ll have to repair them by using the mines to make rock and sometimes tearing down trees with wind. Sometimes there will be a city of people that want you to make them happy while you’re also getting them food. Sometimes you’ll need to light a lighthouse or build a dock. The game, if nothing else, gives you plenty to do.

I soon realized that the Weather Lord/Weather Master identity crisis and the inability to exit full screen mode (until I was randomly able to do it once around 90% of my way through the game) was not the most annoying problem I would encounter during my time with this time. The game just would not stop crashing. Over and over again I’d have to restart the level. At one point I think I counted eight crashes in a half hour. It was enough to make me stop playing some days, but I was determined to beat the game, partially because of some sort of masochistic sense of pride, and partially because the game kept giving me new types of tasks and new ways of making inane weather combinations and I would feel like I cheated if I didn’t complete the game. At no point did I try to fool myself into thinking this experience would get any better, which says a lot.

Each level is timed. This means absolutely nothing other than you get a different color ribbon (or a checkmark if you really didn’t care enough to finish it in any kind of time) depending on how quickly you finish the level. Having the timer there does nothing other than add an annoying ticking noise every once in a while. It did not increase the sense of urgency, it didn’t motivate me to try harder, and I didn’t find myself caring in the least if time ran out. In a few of the levels, the intro texts says, “Hurry before [x] happens!” The first time I ran into this, I thought, Oh, they actually want us to rush. No, they don’t. They don’t care. Even if it says, “Hurry up before the tornado gets here!” it’s important to note that no storm is actually coming. In fact, it doesn’t even make sense that I would care that a tornado was coming, because I’m supposed to be a weather lord/master. I should be able to just wish it away or turn it into sun-showers or something. Who cares? Apparently, I’m supposed to.

If you’re actually trying to manage the weather formations that you have going on, you’ll run into a couple of problems. Whatever you aren’t actively using–that is, whatever you don’t actively have on a farm or a power plant or whatever–will float around the screen, where it will either get in your way while you’re trying to work with other weather formations or float behind the top bar. Or sometimes you’ll be grabbing a formation in order to combine it with something else but you’re too close to a farm that needs the first formation that you grabbed and it’ll “steal” it from you instead of doing what you wanted to do. This happened to me a lot more often than I’d care to admit, and every time it happened, it was annoying.

To be frank, I didn’t understand the point of this game. Why am I, Mother Nature’s replacement, helping collect food for these people? Why am I sending it to the factory to be canned? Why do I have to calm down a volcano? Why do I have to keep them happy by giving them the weather they want? Why do I have to build them docks, light their lighthouses, and repair their roads? No part of Mother Nature’s job description includes any of those things. It was like the developers were saying to themselves, “Let’s make this more ridiculous by adding a crapload of tasks they have to do each level. Adding more things to do means it’ll be harder, right?”

No, it just makes your game more inane. This isn’t so much a game about time management as it is a game about putting up with everyone’s crap.

I got absolutely no sense of accomplishment out of beating the 40 levels in this game. and was really annoyed that beating the final level only got me fireworks on the results screen, a la Microsoft Solitaire or something. I just played through the entirety of this crap game and all I get is crappily-animated fireworks. How fitting.

In case I haven’t made it clear before now, I am never touching this game again. After I completed the game, I immediately uninstalled it. I could have sworn I heard my computer whir a sigh of relief.

The Scores
Graphics: POOR
Sound: POOR
Control and Gameplay: WORTHLESS
Replayability: BAD
Balance: POOR
Originality: DECENT
Addictiveness: BAD
Appeal Factor: POOR
Miscellaneous: WORTHLESS


Short Attention Span Summary
Don’t play this game. This game is subpar. It is less than optimal. It is undesirable in all possible respects. Its developers should feel bad for doing this to me. The editors should feel bad for asking me to play this game.



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