Thunderstorm and Lightning
Casual games giant Alawar Entertainment has recently released a new time-management simulation, offering players control of the elements to achieve a variety of agricultural tasks in each level. Regardless of the fact that the game is being billed as Weather Lord in all materials from the publisher, all in-game references – including the title screen – name it as Weather Master, so that is the name I shall call it by. Weather Master puts you into the shoes of a Father-Nature-in-Training type character, learning the ropes of how to wrangle different weather conditions and combine various forces of nature to achieve new weather combinations. Weather Master is a bit of a cross between a time-management simulation and a puzzler, with each of the game’s 40 levels requiring you to figure out the most advantageous way to reach various objectives that change from level to level, from raising and harvesting crops to repairing roads and even appeasing angry volcanoes lest they erupt and cover the land in soot and ash. Sadly, the game ultimately comes up a bit on the short side, ending abruptly without much replay value or really any reason to go back to it at all.
At its core, Weather Master is all about using weather conditions like sun, rain, wind and so on to grow and sell crops. Different crops require different weather elements, and each in a unique order. In order to have the right kind of weather to use, it must first be purchased, and thus begins the cycle of purchasing weather conditions to grow crops and selling crops to make money to buy further weather elements. Since your funds at the outset of each level are quite limited, the initial stage in each level of planning out a method of “attack” is more akin to a puzzle game, but once you’re rolling, it’s all about utilizing the right weather in the right location at exactly the correct time. Try to juggle growing crops at multiple plantations with limited access to rain, for example, while watching the stage’s timer slowly tick down to zero, and you’ve got the meat of any successful time-management sim on your hands.
One thing that Weather Master does well is that it introduces a new item, type of weather, or additional gameplay element into the mix. Whether you’re moving on to a new location where a brand new crop is available to you, or you need to earn money to carry out repairs on the town’s roads, docks, and lighthouses, the objectives go beyond simply growing and endlessly selling produce. Your guide, the current Weather Master, introduces each level with a short snippet of information, setting up the scenario you have to complete. While not a “story mode” of any importance or interest as such, it is a small, noteworthy detail of the game’s design.
While the idea behind Weather Master works, and its design is easy to pick up and play, there are several elements that put a considerable dent in the amount of fun that this title offers. First and foremost is the fact that there really isn’t any challenge to be had from completing the objectives each level sets you. While there is a time limit in place, this can be easily deceiving – the time limit merely dictates what kind of medal you’ll receive upon completing the stage, if any. Once the timer it completely depleted, you can still take as long as you like to accomplish your tasks, you just won’t get a medal for it. Then, after clearing all of the first map’s 40 stages, I was completely baffled to find that this was, in fact, all of the game’s stages – there were no new maps to advance to, no new levels to unlock. All that was left to me was to go back and attempt to beat my previous score in any level. With each level only taking a few minutes to play, this made for a very short game devoid of any sense of urgency or challenge. For a time-management title, this is anathema.
The Final Verdict
Weather Master has the makings for what could have been a more enjoyable experience: a new take on the time-management genre, a steady drip-feed of new items and challenges to produce and accomplish, and a pleasant, colorful art style. Unfortunately, a complete lack of urgency and the game’s inexcusable brevity sap any will to stick with this game past its 40 levels right out of me. With no additional modes of any kind, and too frequent bugs that would send the game crashing on me mid-level every few stages or so, I really can’t recommend this game in good conscience. Maybe next time, Alawar, if Weather Master 2 can fix some of these issues.