In this indie game, the roguelite genre meets city builder, and endless campaigns can be run to build up the levels in the meta-game deck.
We received an Early Access copy of Against the Storm, and we want to tell you everything about it.
The plot of Against the Storm is simple; you are a Viceroy of the Queen of the Smoldering City, which needs to be rebuilt. You are to explore the wilderness around the City in search for resources and secure positions for future trade.
The game includes individual campaigns, during which you try to build a village, and a meta-game, in which you focus on the Smoldering City, buying upgrades and opening new perks and cards for you to use during the next village campaign.
In the City, you will have access to rewards for the deeds you achieve during the campaigns; you will also gain experience for them.
This indie game takes place in a magic-infused, steampunk world with medieval vibes. In fact, as you open more technologies, you will acquaint yourself with what the game calls ‘rainpunk technology’.
The constant rain is a special feature of Against the Storm; with the three seasons of Drizzle, Clearance, and Storm. It never stops raining.
The look of the buildings and their options, the clothing, the materials you will use all fit well into this world. Despite being relatively light on the plot, the game is not light on the world-building.
The sound design helps to create Against the Storm‘s atmosphere. The music is magical and changes to fit the season in the game. It also vaguely alludes to the dangers that await you in the woods. There is eerily beautiful singing, and ominous laughter can be heard every now and then.
You can listen to the soundtrack on Spotify and other platforms.
The two elements of Against the Storm are city building and roguelike elements. Every level of experience opens new opportunities. Every village campaign has you building a village through the usual methods of a city builder, with the management of resources as always.
However, the maps are randomly generated, and you need to explore them to open up new resources. Sometimes, for example, the starting zone will have literally no food resources, and you will have to work quick to open up new zones, which are called Glades.
You open them by cutting through the woods. Every free worker in your village can be assigned to a woodcutter’s camp to be able to do that (but Beavers are exceptionally good at the job).
Every Glade comes with an event; often, a positive one. You can discover new resources or even items if you have the right perks. But opening a dangerous Glade will result in a negative event, which can lower your villagers’ mood, which is called resolve. You need to dedicate resources and workers to dealing with the danger.
The villagers’ resolve is very important. You improve it by fulfilling their needs and letting them do the jobs they like; it can be lowered by the weather (remember: it is always raining), negative events, hunger, dangers, and so on. Villagers with low resolve leave, making your queen more impatient and dissatisfied with your work. That also means that you have fewer workers to perform the tasks which develop the village. And the clock is always ticking…
Villagers have different needs and preferences depending on their factions. Lizards like meat, and Beavers prefer pickles; Humans need religion, and Beavers’ mood is improved through wealth. It may be difficult (but not impossible) to make them all happy, especially as the game moves on.
With time comes stagnation, which makes the villagers harder to satisfy and easier to discourage. Fortunately, though, you will slowly get access to more resources and options that make satisfying those needs easier.
Making Your Village Special
The map is very important for each campaign, determining what you can and cannot do. Sometimes, you will have little or no food and a lot of minerals, so you will have to build a mining village and trade for food with the travelling merchants.
You can also fulfil orders from the City, providing the Queen with the much-required resources for rebuilding the capital or proving that you are doing a good job maintaining the village. Orders will give you rewards while also making the Queen happy with you.
Win or Lose the Campaign
Keeping the Queen satisfied is essential in Against the Storm. If her impatience is too much, your mission will be cut short: she will call you back to the capital, and the campaign will be lost.
You cannot replay the campaign either; instead, you have to start a new one. To win the campaign, you need to make sure that your reputation is high, and you do that by fulfilling the Queen’s orders or by proving that you are a good Viceroy by keeping your villagers very happy.
The Queen’s impatience and your reputation are critical to keep an eye on.
The Meta-Game of Against the Storm
After winning or losing a campaign, you are taken to the map. That’s where the metagame begins.
You can try to open new technologies (if you have the resources), collect the rewards for your deeds, and select the location for your new village in the meta-game screen. As you win or lose the village campaigns and collect the deeds, you get more experience, and levelling up is essential to opening new opportunities.
The opportunities are mostly randomly selected cards with new building blueprints for you to use, and new offers from the Queen including perks (for instance, better axes) and supplies (for example, food and fiber supply every minute).
You build your deck in the meta-game, and in the village campaigns, you have to work with the hand you are dealt.
Random and Replayable
The randomness of the maps and cards means that the game is immensely replayable. The Blightstorm, which comes at the end of each cycle in the meta-game, changes the main map, too.
You can spend a lot of hours playing Against the Storm, improving your chances through levelling up, and facing more serious threats due to the difficulty levels increasing with each cycle.
Against the Storm is in Early Access, and that can put off some players. However, in the 20+ hours we have played it, we encountered almost no issues. I am fairly certain that I was informed about a trader leaving when she was not in the village a couple of times, but there was definitely nothing game-breaking.
While we are looking forward to the full release, which should arrive in 2022, Against the Storm is definitely playable in its current state.
Just as promised, Against the Storm is a city builder with roguelike elements. You get all the best things from the two worlds; a procedurally-generated map with endless possibilities and replayability, the usual city building and resource/unit management, and even some deck-building with experience and leveling-up.
This indie game will be very interesting to those who love city builders, and it is planned to be fully released in 2022. Enjoy an Early Access release that feels like a finished game!