Amazing Against the Storm Combines Roguelike and City Building Genres

Against The Storm
Reviewed On
Steam (PC)
Available For

I’m going to be honest. Never in my life did I expect to come across a roguelike city builder. But that is what Against the Storm does. It combines the roguelike genre where you slam yourself against a wall repeatedly and have to reset your progress and mixes it with the city building genre where you spend hundreds of hours constructing something from the ground up that will stand the test of time. Honestly, I thought these two styles would go together about as well as peanut butter and fish.

When I grabbed Against the Storm, which over a million other players recently did, I thought it was a pure city builder. So, I was quite surprised to find the roguelike elements solidly within its core too.

Save State columnist Vincent Mahoney is well aware of my distaste of roguelikes, something we have talked about many times in The GiN Lounge. In fact, every time he throws one towards me, I jump out of the way like I’m in a dodgeball tournament. So, once I started Against the Storm, I figured I was in for a challenge. Right from the start, it tells the story about how seals have come undone and there is a storm that now ravages the world around the capital (named the Smoldering City). Your job as a viceroy is to reach these broken seals and close them once again to bring calm weather to your planet once more. But to do so, you have to manage settlements and attempt to complete objectives, using them as bases of operation as you inch ever closer to one of the broken seals.

My first thought was I wasn’t going to like this title, but I’d give it a try. After the first ten hours, I had the same thought. Now, I’m sixty hours into Against the Storm, and I’m still playing. I really can’t believe how much I’m enjoying it. In fact, this is my front runner for game of the year. As much as I liked Timberborn, I think I enjoy Against the Storm slightly more.

Against the Storm has multiple races in its population of villagers including beavers, harpies, foxes, and lizards that join humans in trying to survive the storm. Each of them looks great and provide balanced benefits. Additionally, each one has a specialty that you can use to help accomplish certain objectives quicker. For example, the foxes have a scouting bonus which allows them to handle events faster than the other races in the title.

The main challenge facing each new settlement is the storm. The storm is like winter here in Ohio, it goes on way too long, and everyone is miserable. You can sacrifice certain materials to a hearth to lessen the effects, but sometimes it just doesn’t work. If I had to nitpick, I got frustrated when I needed tools and had the stuff to make them. I set them to a high priority and watched as my buildings just sat there for far too long. Apparently, everyone was on a long lunch.

Now, this is a roguelike, so that means that sometimes cities are going to fall and fail, especially in the face of the raging storm. But if that happens, it’s not the end of the game, just that one expedition. Everything that you researched, upgraded, or experienced sticks with you – advantages that the next expedition can make use of right from the start. That means, as in most roguelikes, subsequent runs are going to be a bit easier, especially at first as you can rely on everything you researched and upgraded before.

If you are a longtime city builder, you will have to adjust your mindset a bit to enjoy Against the Storm. Pretty much everything you build is probably going to get destroyed, with only the Smoldering City being immune to a total razing. You really need to think of each city as more of an expedition where your goal is to achieve a certain resource or hit key metrics so that your next run will be stronger. Then you can really rush to achieve those objectives before getting wiped. Anything you accomplish beyond those goals is just a bonus.

Everything in terms of presentation is also really well done in Against the Storm. The music is well scored and helps bring the environment to life. The graphics are also pretty delightful and sort of bring to mind the original Warcraft games. The difficulty curve is also well-balanced, with the game doing a good job of slowly introducing new concepts like blight rot, rainpunk engines, geysers, and much more.

If Against the Storm had not been so well-done, it could be quite a mess. There are a lot of elements blended together, and many of them (like combining a roguelike with a city builder) don’t seem to go well together. And yet, Against the Storm works well to provide a unique and fun experience, even for players who probably think they have seen it all.

It’s easy to see why Against the Storm is so popular. Those looking for a really unique kind of title should put on their raincoats (one of the technologies you can research) and brave the amazingly complex Against the Storm.

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