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Stormy Seas Seafaring Puzzle Game Review – Puzzled

In Stormy Seas you are the captain of ship caught in a storm. You need to navigate your ship through the stormy waters in order to reach the safety of the nearby port. It won’t be that easy though since waves and other ships will block your path to the port. Will you be able to navigate the waves and other ships in order to safely escape the storm?

Looking at the box for Stormy Seas I wasn’t expecting a whole lot for the puzzle game. The box makes the game look kind of kiddy which made me think that the puzzles would be way too easy and thus not very fun. I was actually pleasantly surprised by Stormy Seas.

How to Play

In the Stormy Seas Seafaring Puzzle game, the objective is to get the red boat from its’ starting location to the finish spot at the bottom of the board.

Before beginning a puzzle, the player needs to pick one of the 40 puzzle cards and set up the board. First the slider pieces have to be placed into the correct order on the board. To help with setting up the sliders each piece has a symbol and a color on it. Use the symbols and the color in order to match up the pieces with the picture on the puzzle card. After setting up the board, place the boats shown on the card into the correct spots on the board.

Setup of a Stormy Seas puzzle
The slider pieces and the boats are positioned in relation to how they are pictured on the puzzle card.

Once the board has been set up, the player can begin solving it. Most moves will involve moving the sliders left and right in order to move the various ships around the board. All of the boats can be slid up, down, left, or right when applicable. Boats may never be removed from the board. Every boat, except for the red one, cannot be turned around and their orientation (up/down, left/right) cannot change. The red boat can turn around or change orientation if it reaches a wide channel. A wide channel is a gap on the left or right side of the game board that has at least a 2X2 free area.

The puzzle is completed when the red boat enters the finish space (in the correct direction).

Completing a Stormy Seas Puzzle
The red boat has reached the finish spot facing the correct direction. This puzzle has been successfully completed.

Difficulty

In all Stormy Seas has 40 different puzzle cards broken up into four different categories: beginner, intermediate, advanced and expert. The beginner cards are very easy. These cards are pretty much a tutorial illustrating different ways the pieces can move around the board and giving you a simple introduction on how to solve the different puzzles. The intermediate cards add a little challenge but are still quite easy. I breezed through most of them. Most people shouldn’t have much of a challenge completing the intermediate puzzles.

Starting with the advanced cards, the puzzles start to become much more challenging. I didn’t have too much trouble with the first half of the advanced cards but the difficulty increased quickly at the midway point. The last half of the advanced cards and the expert cards will take most people quite a bit of time to solve. The thing that makes these levels difficult are the blocking boats. The blocking boats are annoying since they are usually placed in areas where they are hard to move out of the way. The advanced and expert puzzles usually become a trial and error process where you have to go through all of the different combination of moves until a solution is found.

The good news is that if you ever get stuck on a puzzle you can always look at the back of the card to get the solution to the puzzle. I appreciate that the game included the solutions to the puzzles since some puzzle games don’t include the solution which is very frustrating. Having the solutions is very important since some of the later puzzles take over 50 moves in order to solve.

The only complaint I have with the difficulty is that I wish there was a larger distribution of cards in the moderate difficulty level. The beginner and intermediate cards are too easy while most of the advanced and expert cards are too hard. In my opinion there is only around five to ten cards that are the right difficulty. I personally wish that ten of the cards were easy, 20 were of a moderate difficulty, and the final 10 were pretty hard.

Strategy

Since every puzzle is pretty different there is no definite strategy that can be used to solve every puzzle. A lot of the puzzles seem designed to force a player to use a specific strategy. Going through the puzzles I did come across a couple things that a lot of the puzzles share in common.

  • In the beginner and intermediate cards, generally your best strategy is to just create a long straight line connecting to the end space. In a lot of these puzzles the challenge comes from getting the boat onto the long straight path to the end space.
  • If you have tried everything else on a puzzle, try to get the red boat to one of the channels on the sides of the board. Doing so will allow you to turn the boat around which might have been the move that you were missing.
  • On most puzzles the goal at the beginning should be to get the blocking boats as far out of the way as is possible. Basically you want to get the blocking boats as far up and to either the left or right as possible. This usually works since it gets the boat out of the way and allows you more flexibility in the bottom sliders which will help you get the red boat to the finish space.
  • Try to determine how the last couple of sliders are going to have to line up in order to get the red boat to the finish space. Since the red boat is two spaces long, the last two sliders have to have at least one clear space that matches up. If this is the only space where both sliders have a matching empty space, you know that at the end these two pieces have to be in that position in order to get the red boat to the final space.

Components

I was quite pleased with the components for Stormy Seas. I love that the game board itself acts as a storage unit which works great since Stormy Seas would work perfectly as something to do in the car or while traveling. The boats are quite a bit more detailed than I was expecting. What I really liked about the sliders is that they are curved (simulated waves). This adds to the theme but the reason I like the “waves” is that they help with sliding the pieces. Underneath the board there are ridges which help stop the sliders from constantly sliding all the way right or left.

The only complaint I have with the components is the constant need to change the sliders whenever you start a new puzzle. Unfortunately this is a necessary evil since the game otherwise wouldn’t have had many different puzzles. The game does lessen the pain of always having to change the board by making it a simple process. Thanks to the symbols and colors on the sliders, it usually takes around 30 seconds to switch to a new layout.

Final Verdict

Overall I had more fun with Stormy Seas than I was expecting. While it is not the most entertaining puzzle game in the world, it is still fun to play. It is the type of game that I would play a couple puzzles at a time and then put away for a while. While the game is marketed towards children, the advanced and expert puzzles will give adults a challenge. If you don’t like sliding puzzles you are not going to like Stormy Seas. If you are looking for an interesting and somewhat challenging sliding puzzle game though, I think you will like Stormy Seas quite a bit.

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