How a game about photographing tornadoes led me into a void of demon cows

Before we get to what might be the weirdest game-breaking bug I've ever experienced, can we talk about how cool storm chasers are? Or at least how cool I imagine they are based on my single source of information about storm chasers: the 1996 masterpiece Twister, starring Bill Paxton and Helen Hunt.

If Twister is to be believed—and I have no reason to doubt Bill Paxton—storm chasers go speeding around in trucks to find tornadoes, then drive real close to them while yelling things like "It's on the move, let's see what she does!" and "Get ahead of it, it's gonna turn!" and they put monitoring equipment covered with Pepsi cans in the path of the tornadoes and they sometimes kiss in the rain, and also there are evil, wealthy, corporate storm chasers with fancy trucks who want to... monetize tornadoes or something?

I guess I haven't seen the film in a while. Some of the details are a bit hazy.

Point being, the idea of chasing tornadoes is cool, so when I saw an Early Access game called Storm Chasers about being a storm chaser I immediately jumped in to chase storms, and soon after I was led into a black void of demonic cows.

Jokes aside, I am genuinely interested in playing this game, because one of the main things you do in Storm Chasers is take photographs of tornadoes. I already like taking pictures in games, and taking pictures of tornadoes sounds like fun. While the graphics aren't particularly good, the tornadoes themselves do look pretty great.

There are four singleplayer missions you have to complete in Storm Chasers before you can play online with other people in a sort of storm chasing competition. In the first mission, you have to run fairly close to a tornado and take pictures of it. You get scored on your pictures, with more points being awarded for capturing images of debris in the air and being close enough to get a really nice shot. Since the camera in this game is apparently from 100 years ago, you only have a limited number of exposures available, so you have to make sure your shots count.

In the next few missions I get more storm chasing tools. There's my truck, which I steer with disembodied hands and forearms and which has a radar screen on the dashboard that lets me see where the next tornado might land. I have probes in the bed of my truck, which I can take out, activate, and leave behind in the hopes that the tornado passes over them, giving me valuable tornado data (and more points toward my score).

My truck needs to be refueled and repaired at service stations if it's damaged during a storm, which happens when golf-ball-sized hail begins pummeling me and when I completely roll it over after driving over some debris.

The driving in Storm Chasers is, yes, absolutely atrocious. Steering is awful and stopping the truck, even at low speeds, causes a long, slow skid regardless of the weather conditions. While it's a shame that the chasing part of Storm Chasers is so bad at the moment, it's still pretty darn exciting to be in the path of a tornado (or in some cases, multiple tornadoes) while taking pictures.

I guess I should get to the demon cows since it's in the headline and everything. After completing the first four missions, I try out multiplayer, or at least I try to try out multiplayer. I join a lobby and wait, and wait, and wait. There's a game of Snake you can play in the lobby while you wait, where you steer a truck around eating tornadoes, which is cute and gives me something to do while waiting. Eventually, nothing happens. Well, immediately nothing happens, and then nothing continues to happen. No one else joins the lobby, so I head back to singleplayer for my fifth mission.

I load the mission, which is to take pictures of tornadoes on some farmland, and then this happens. This happens. For the video below, you'll need to have the volume turned on, and for the full effect I'd suggest you turn it up as loud as it will go.

Yes, I do in fact seem to be trapped in a black void filled with demonic cows. I am not sure what crime I committed to doom me to Cow Hell—well, okay, maybe the hundreds of burgers and steaks I've consumed in my life would qualify. But it's terrifying in there! I try to load the mission twice more and the same thing happens, nothing but loud, incessant mooing in the darkness. After a restart I'm able to continue my tornado hunting, though every time a level loads I brace myself for a barrage of agonized cow souls.

Honestly, I should have expected this. Again: Believe Twister.

Storm Chasers isn't a great game at the moment—I really hope the driving gets some major improvements while it's in Early Access—but despite the jank it's still kind of fun. And if you're wondering what happens if you walk too close to a tornado, I've got you covered below. Yes, I died, but at least I didn't wake up in Cow Hell this time.

Christopher Livingston
Senior Editor

Chris started playing PC games in the 1980s, started writing about them in the early 2000s, and (finally) started getting paid to write about them in the late 2000s. Following a few years as a regular freelancer, PC Gamer hired him in 2014, probably so he'd stop emailing them asking for more work. Chris has a love-hate relationship with survival games and an unhealthy fascination with the inner lives of NPCs. He's also a fan of offbeat simulation games, mods, and ignoring storylines in RPGs so he can make up his own.