LifeisXbox’s Wavetale review | Even if you’re keeping up with new videogame releases, you may still not have heard of Wavetale. This fresh adventure by Zoink Games and Thunderful released on Google Stadia as an exclusive title and sadly, it seems to have taken a hit in coverage because of it. With Stadia being available for *very cheap* around Black Friday, I couldn’t resist picking up a set and this immediately drew my attention.
Wavetale is a short indie game with a focus on exploration and its 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 lighthearted experience.
Wavetale has silky smooth gameplay, and surfing across open water has never felt more satisfying.
ℹ️ Reviewed on Google Stadia | Game copy was playable thanks to a Stadia Pro subscription. 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 by the moment.
- 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 our for me in the Google Stadia stare 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!
- 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 beyong 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 to 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 here 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.
- Performance issues (Stadia?) | The downside of reviewing a Cloud-based game is that you can never really tell if performance issues are caused by the game or by the internet faltering. I’ve had a few moments where audio stuttered or the frames seemed to drop, but I’m mostly blaming this on my home internet connection and Stadia not being able to pick up the slack. I won’t hold it against the game for this reason, but it’s still an issue if you like smooth 60fps performance. It gets even worse when playing over wifi (as you can see in the video below). So be sure you have a good enough internet connection if you want to invest in Stadia.
How long to beat the story | 3-4 hours
How long to complete | 4-5 hours
LifeisXbox.eu is the largest Belgian Xbox centered website, your reading time is greatly appreciated! Please consider sharing this review with your friends on social media, that means a lot for us! If you are Dutch-speaking also consider joining our Dutch exclusive Facebook group Xbox Gamers Belgium. Feel free to use quotes for PR purposes.
Would you like to support us?!
We keep our website completely ads-free as we know how annoying that can be. This means we don’t have any income. Unfortunately, bills do come in for our hosting costs and other LifeisXbox expenses. Here is where YOU come in, your monthly support on Patreon can help us to continue writing our reviews.
Please check out our different options for support us monthly, our Patreon link.
You can also use Ko-Fi to give us a one time gift! Our Ko-Fi link.
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.