LifeisXbox’s Wavetale review | Wait, I hear you say, didn’t you review Wavetale on Google Stadia about a year ago? Why yes, but even if you’re keeping up with new videogame releases, a lot of people haven’t heard about this amazing indie title because it was an exclusive for the cloud gaming platform and most press didn’t even bother writing about it for just that reason.
I truly hope this new cross-platform release gives Thunderful Games’ title a second lease on life as it’s truly an indiegem waiting to be discovered. Wavetale is a short indie game with a focus on exploration and a story that tackles topics like greed, war and loss, yet it wraps it in a wholesome and inclusive package that provided me with a surprisingly light-hearted experience.
The game itself hasn’t changed since its first release, but performance has been greatly improved for me and it looked even better on the big TV screen than it did on my laptop.
Most Memorable Moment
There are two moments that really stuck with me when playing Wavetale: when you first interact with your shadowfriend below the waters and discover how you’ll be surfing the seas throughout the game, truly awesome stuff! and the second time is when Sigrid is singing the lullaby her mother used to sing to her and it’s just such a calm, heartfelt moment that I could recall even over a year after playing it the first time around.
ℹ️ Reviewed on Xbox Series X | Game copy provided via Thunderful Games. This review is the personal opinion of the writer.
What we liked!
- Surfing on a shadow | The main gameplay mechanic has you surfing on a shadow that mimics your every move below the water’s surface. It’s a fresh take and the movement feels incredibly responsive and smooth. You later get the ability to warp yourself to certain objects and chaining these moves together is satisfying beyond belief.
- Clear signposting | It’s always clear where you need to go next, at least for the main quest. With a medium-sized open world this is a welcome feature and even when you’re not tracking the next objective on your radar or map, there are collectables that visually guide your route even when scaling large towers or complex levels.
- Main Protagonist | Sigrid is a young girl who has lost her mother and is now being raised by her bossy grandma. She starts the game off as a timid kid who listens to her elders simply because she must, but near the finish, she has learned to stand up for her own beliefs.
- Voice acting | While not every line of dialogue is voiced, there is some pretty decent voice acting in Wavetale and that especially goes for Sigrid. There is even a moment where she’s singing a sort of lullably and it had me absolutely enchanted.
- Visuals | There is a soft pastel colour palette used here and it’s a treat to look at. The attractive visuals are among the main reasons the game stood out for me and I instantly knew I’d like the game because of them. The water also looks fantastic and with a game that has so much of it, that’s pretty important! On Xbox Series X, it looks even better in glorious 4K and HDR.
- Custom outfits | Wavetale didn’t initially strike me as a game that needed extra cosmetics, but I think it was just something the development team decided to have fun with. The collectable currency you find throughout the game can be spent on hats, hair colours and outfits and while it may not be a huge pull to go out and look for them, it at least gave some purpose to exploring beyond the main quests and side activities.
- The music | While the theme song is great (it’s the one Sigrid sings at one point), there are also a few loops that annoyed me. Soundclips that seemed too short and kept looping on end, almost so much that it distracted from the game. This wasn’t something that bothered me all the time, maybe two or three times at most, but it was still worth mentioning.
- The combat | While I understand the combat may have been a needed element to spice up the gameplay a bit, it’s a rather barebones experience. Enemies get stun-locked by your default attack, so there is never any danger of getting hit back, and if they swarm you, it’s easily remedied by a jumping ground pound attack that knocks them back.
- The length | While I’ve grown to appreciate shorter games, especially because I don’t have as much time available as I would like for gaming, Wavetale is the rare experience where I wished it was a little longer. You meet various characters for sidequests, but interact with them only once and there is a vast open world that I’d have loved to explore even more. I guess it speaks in the game’s advantage that I wanted to spend more time in this world though.
- The ending | In a similar vein to the remark above, I felt like the game came to a sudden conclusion. It didn’t feel like it was already building up to the grand finale and when the credits rolled I had a slight “that was it?” feeling.
What we disliked
- The camera when platforming | You have free control of the camera throughout the game, but there were moments in the game where it would suddenly shift to another angle and when you’re mid-jump from one platform to another, it can get highly annoying. There are two jumps I really struggled with on Stadia that I hoped they had fixed with the new platform release, but I noticed they remained unchanged. Missing that same jump ten times in a row is not my idea of fun.
How long to beat the story | 3-4 hours
How long to complete | 4-5 hours
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Robby lives and breathes video games. When he’s not playing them, he’s talking about them on social media or convincing other people to pick up a controller themselves. He’s online so often, he could practically list the internet as his legal domicile. Belgian games-industry know-it-all.