I think that you’ll all agree with me when I say that the games I choose to play depend purely on my mood. This isn’t just a taste thing it’s down to how you feel at the time, and more importantly as you get older the amount of time you have. After a long day at work, the last thing I want is to boot up a really cerebral, multi-layered RPG. This has nothing to do with not liking this sort of game, it’s just that my brain isn’t functional enough to really enjoy it. It’s times like these that a bit of mindless violence really scratches the itch. Just let me point at something I can kill without having to do anything clever and brainy and I’m happy. This is where the arcade genre and all its wonderful pick-up-and-play offerings come in. This is also the genre that After Wave: Downfall, the game I’ve been blowing off steam to recently is rooted. It’s on the Switch too so I don’t even need to get off my sofa to enjoy it.
After Wave: Downfall is an arcade shooter with some pretty stunning graphics. It’s called After Wave because you spend the game hurtling down fast-moving rivers while mutated wildlife and alien invaders attempt to make unalive. Fortunately, your boat is kitted out with a bunch of guns, missiles, and other shooty things that even up the odds and make your life a little bit easier. Aside from all the things that really want to eat/murder you there’s the stationary stuff that doesn’t like being collided with. You have to remember that the whopping bit lumps of rock sticking out of the water aren’t going to move for you, so avoiding them is probably a good idea.
I say this in every one of my reviews but I’m not telling you the story. There are aliens and lots of combat and you can be happy with that until you play the game. The story is a rather mixed thing for me. The actual content is fine but nothing we haven’t experienced before. This is an action game so the plot is gluing it all together and giving you a reason to play but at the same time not something that’s particularly important. This isn’t an RPG so it doesn’t need to be front and center but it’s there to keep you from losing track of why you’re picking up the game in the first place. My issue is that it’s written and it’s very clear that English isn’t the first language of the devs. The story hasn’t been translated very well so doesn’t read brilliantly. This is one of my pet peeves.
I’d strongly advise getting out of those red crosshairs, oh, and avoiding the massive rocks would be smart too.
I’m pretty sure there are lots of people, (myself included,) that would be happy to go over a roughly translated first draft and fix the stuff that isn’t correct. To make the game better I’d actually be happy to do that for free. This being said I find it a tad annoying when I’m reading a finished article and skipping through dialogue because it either doesn’t make sense or is full of grammatical errors. It’s a little but important thing, and before I get any snotty comments it’s not just for games translated into English. If English were being translated into another language I’d hope someone would do the same because it must be just as annoying for everyone else out there.
Graphically After Wave: Downfall is a lovely, fast-moving, 3D shooter. The best way I can describe this one is what one of our favorite top-down blasters would look like if everything was coming at you head-on. The graphics are cartoony and beautifully rendered and everything is really colorful. This is just what you want from a good arcade romp. In fact, I can see this game being something that I’d have gravitated towards back in the day. Remember those big arcade cabinets that you sat in? This would have been absolutely amazing on one of those. The fact that I can picture this title physically sitting in an amusement arcade earns it some major points. Too many “arcade” games out there really aren’t, graphically, this one definitely fits the bill.
Six characters are ample for variety.
Wave after wave, (wonder if that’s another deliberate link to the title,) of enemies are bursting out of the water in front of you and you can either gun them down or if you’ve acquired enough energy use one of your more destructive weapons to clear the field. Aside from kamikaze wildlife, there are also plenty of bullets to dodge so you need to be on your toes and be just as good at dodging as you are firing. There are two playable characters, to begin with, with more to unlock as you go. These characters obviously have their own playstyles and weapon setups but the general gist of the game remains the same. Kill stuff before stuff kills you.
Control-wise, I don’t have any issues with After Wave: Downfall. This game runs like butter and I didn’t see any glitches or wrinkles in the UI that made controlling my ship any more awkward. Remembering where all of your weapons are when you’re in the thick of it takes a little time and I hit the wrong buttons a few times before my muscle memory kicked in. This is not game-breaking, it’s something you learn. I didn’t have any problems with the button mapping, it’s just a point of note. The game running smoothly is really important by the way. There’s nothing worse when you’re trying to avoid obstacles at speed than lag.
There’s enough depth in the upgrade system to allow you to kit yourself out to your own playstyle.
As with many games of this sort, you’ll have an upgrade system that you can play about with between levels. This is pretty deep and I noticed that instead of skills that you level with points at one point per level it’s more incremental. This has its pros and cons depending on the player. I like that there is a bit of depth in a shooter that could on the surface be a little one-dimensional and you’ve got quite a bit to experiment with to get your own playstyle just right. Gamers that just want to blast things and want simplified upgrades won’t necessarily use this to its fullest but I think it’s still cool to have.
So what’s the difficulty like, then? Well, I have to say from what I’ve seen thus far it’s pretty perfectly balanced. If you’re skilled at shooters and you can cope with a lot of stuff going on at the same time I don’t think you’ll have any issues. Like I’ve just said, there’s nothing artificial making the game more difficult so it’ll all come down to your own skill, or lack of it. Bosses are fun to battle against and this is where the massive difficulty spikes often come. If you can keep an eye on what they’re doing while keeping an eye on everything else you’ll be fine. That’s not to say I didn’t very nearly get eaten by a giant fish but that was my own silly fault, not that of the game. You also have the option of selecting a difficulty level so if you’re an old hand finding it all a bit too easy you can stick yourself on hard mode and get you’re masochistic kicks to your heart’s content.
They shouldn’t be that big, but then they shouldn’t be coughing up glowing red orbs either. Having a mate on hand always makes things more manageable.
After Wave: Downfall is an entertaining shooter and brilliant as a pick-up-and-play option if you’re not looking for anything too serious. Is it a game that I’m going to spend my entire afternoon on? Probably not. As a coffee break or something to do while I’m waiting for something else to happen, it’s absolutely perfect though. As a last little note. Don’t play shooters in bed kids, it’s bad for your sleep. Not that this is something I learned writing this review. Obviously.
Boatloads of fun!
Look and Feel - 8/10
Controls - 8/10
Story - 6/10
Replayability - 7/10
Challenge - 7/10
Nothing fishy here!
If you love a good arcade blast-fest After Wave: Downfall is a really fun way to go. This is a colorful, fast-paced offering with just the right level of difficulty for new players and seasoned hands alike. Don’t expect anything too deep and cerebral here but if you’re looking for something fun and easy to pick up or a bit of a co-op session with your mates this might just be the way to go.
Hailing from Southport England, Alex started his gaming career in the late 80s on a Commodore 64. Since that time he's either owned or played on virtually every console released. Alex happens to...