The magic word for so many descriptions and writeups of Against the Storm is “roguelite” – even the game’s developer can’t resist using the term when asked to describe their work in this city-builder.
If we push ourselves to escape the gravitational pull of that label, however, I think we can find that the procedural flourishes of Against the Storm function more as narrative texture behind a classic XCOM approach of multimodal strategy where tactical combat against alien invaders has been replaced by small-scale colonization of a hostile, almost apocalyptic world. With each “pack” of orders provided by a fearsome Queen that oversees this struggle against the elements, the player selects and then constructs a more goal-oriented structure for a city-building genre that often struggles with aimlessness.
Does this structural conceit compromise the usual expressivity of the city-building mechanics at play? Is it possible to have too many systems and layers in a game of this scale? Should the Queen’s mission of “securing a future” against the titular Storm give us pause?
We embark upon further contemplation of these ideas on Thursday at 8:30 EDT / 7:30 CDT / 5:30 PDT, with voice chat over Discord. All manner of royal subjects from beavers to lizards are welcome to attend.