I think it’s fair to say that games are very good at crossing boundaries. At the very least a videogame is an interactive piece of art. We know there’s so much more to them than that but this is definitely true. I say this because I can’t remember the last time I picked up a title and was so immersed that I could have been sitting in a theatre, on my couch at home watching a good movie, or with my nose planted in my favorite book. The title we’ll be looking at today is certainly a piece of graphical beauty but goes so much deeper than that and is ticking a lot of other boxes at the same time. I can’t wait to tell you all about it. It’s called Wavetale and I’m finding it somewhat difficult to put down. Let’s see why, shall we?
In Wavetale a disaster has happened, the city, (and the world in general,) is underwater and people are living on islands and navigating from place to place by boat. It’s not safe to go swimming so the thing that’s literally everywhere now is also one of the biggest dangers. This being said, what if you could walk on water? Well, this is pretty much where the story of a young girl given fantastic powers. With new-found abilities granted by an unlikely friend, you’ll banish the otherworldly fog that’s enshrouded your home and save the townsfolk from being captured by the sinister DirtyPaws.
Sigrid, our protagonist. Her grandmother is a tough lady and will be guiding you on your quest.
I seem to be saying this a lot lately but the premise of Wavetale isn’t exactly complicated. A life-sucking gloom has covered your home and you must banish it by collecting sparks and repairing light sources at different locations. This starts out at the lighthouse where you live. The beam from the lighthouse can only clear so much of the dangerous bleakness, though. From here you’ll set out in a bid to remove the gloom for good. In any other game, this would boil down to the trope of collecting stuff so you can fix something that will open a new area up allowing you to collect more stuff. We’ve all played these games but they need something pretty cool to carry them if they aren’t going to fall a bit flat. This is where the awesome travel mechanics that make this game truly fun to play come in.
You’ll learn to surf without a board. You can literally walk on water.
Your companion gives you more than just the power to walk on water. Imagine having the ability to surf without a board. That’s what movement in this title feels like. It’s fast, and fluid, and as you learn how to better use your new-found abilities you’ll learn a bunch of cool tricks that make navigating Wavetale an absolute blast. Before you know it you’ll be racing along the waves and using the really fluid grappling mechanics you’ll be taught to rocket into the air and dart from obstacle to obstacle. Your standard platformer this title is not. The usual jumping mechanics are mixed with what I can only describe as a form of parkour and this is implemented so faultlessly that movement is a joy. In addition to this combat is easy to pick up and simply a case of batting baddies with your net. Nothing feels frustrating and this is very welcome in a game that could have been over complicated really easily.
Your journal will help you fill out the story. You’ll collect entries as you go and although hidden none feel too difficult to find.
Graphically Wavetale is absolutely beautiful. It’s like being given control over an animated movie and I’m one hundred percent here for the art direction that’s been taken. The musical score fits the experience really nicely and the voice acting is fitting and really well done. From an aesthetic standpoint, I’ve got absolutely no complaints. As you clear more of the gloom you can’t wait to see what the next area you’ll explore will bring. The desire to see everything this game has to offer makes it a very addicting title to experience.
The world around you is stunning!
The story of Wavetale is as well written as it is voiced. Though the concept is simplistic in nature the characters you meet along the way are, for the most part, quite sweet and add to the heartwarming nature of the game. This title could have very easily been a serious affair, but thanks to some very clever writing everything is kept at a level that would be very appealing to a teen audience. The juxtaposition of gloomy darkness and brightly painted safer areas helps this immensely too because it lifts Wavetale and stops it from becoming depressing. There are elements of the importance of environmental protection woven into the story but at no time did I feel that these were being rammed down my throat and the game never came across as preachy. The show, don’t tell, approach that’s been taken fits really well. It brings light to something serious and important without overdoing it and this I feel is pertinent to note. At the end of this day, this is still a game and needs to be enjoyed as such.
Upgrades are of a cosmetic nature, you’ll learn everything else as you go.
I was starting to worry that a lot of PC games were becoming heavily reliant on the need to have a controller. A lot of games I’ve played in recent months felt awkward and unwieldy when played with keyboard and mouse and for me, this is a big problem. Having a gamepad on a PC should be an option to make life easier but should never hamper your choices when you’re looking for something new to play. In my book, if a game has been designed for PC and can’t be played without a pad it’s lacking. I was surprised at just how fluid the keyboard controls were here considering that a lot of the maneuvers you make call for accuracy. My only gripe here, (and this is a small thing,) is that it’s sometimes difficult to judge your landing from a position where you’re hovering; something you’ll do a lot to extend your jumps. It can be difficult to tell whether you’re right over where you need to be when you’re landing on smaller platforms and this can lead to misses. This isn’t a big issue because you can always run back and try again. Wavetale isn’t a game that’s trying to kill you at every turn and instakills aren’t running rampant. This makes misjudging jumps a minor frustration but it’s never rage-inducing; something else I really like about the game.
Wavetale is a joy to control. No platforms feel too precarious or jumps too unmanageable.
All in all, Wavetale is an adventure that I’m really enjoying. As a rule, the platform genre on the whole isn’t usually my first choice. The controls can be as simple as you like but they still always feel a bit fiddly to me. The fact that I don’t like repeating myself doesn’t help either. Generally, when I haven’t made the same jump for the umpteenth time and been impaled/fried/horrifically ended I’m usually ready to quit. At no point in this game did I feel frustrated and this is a really big plus. Even if I didn’t make a jump or had to rerun a section I didn’t feel like I was banging my head on a wall. This being said this isn’t a ten out-of-ten game, for me at least.
This is where personal choice plays such a massive role in how we perceive things though. The story is great, the graphics are beautifully rendered and this is definitely a fun title to play. So for me, it’s a case of this game being excellent for what it is, meaning that it’s a really fun example of a game in a genre that I don’t usually gravitate towards. Platform fans amongst you, on the other hand, will probably grant this a higher score than me on playstyle alone. This being said, all of the other wonderful factors that I’ve just mentioned make this a really strong outing and if I’m having as much fun as I am I can see this being a game that a lot of you will fall in love with.
Look and feel - 9/10
Gameplay - 8/10
Story - 8/10
Controls - 8/10
Challenge - 7/10
On the crest of a wave
Wavetale is a beautifully rendered platform adventure with a well-written story and really smooth gameplay. Those of you looking for a real platforming challenge might find the pace here a little on the slow side but for those of us that like to dip our toes into the genre the difficulty level is perfect. I really don’t have a vast amount to complain about here, this is a game that’s well worth playing for anyone looking for a new tale to discover.
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...