A game all about surfing the waters of a flooded world, we quickly sank into the rhythmic joy of playing Wavetale. No pun intended.
It’s a short adventure, lasting roughly six or so hours, but Wavetale is pleasant from start to finish. Players take on the role of Sigrid, a teenage girl growing up in a post-apocalyptic, water-logged world. Living with her grandmother, she’s heard only stories of apples that used to grow on trees, and green, luscious parks you could walk through. For her, the world is nothing but a series of small, rusted islands. But a new power that awakens inside her allows her to skate over the surface of the water, making traversal through her soggy world a great deal of fun.
There’s a story to work through in Wavetale, and it’s all voiced to a high standard, helping you get acquainted with the game’s characters and their motivations. You’ll learn a little about the world’s backstory and get a sense of how it came to be flooded – but it’s perhaps not as deep as you’d like it to be. Still, it hardly matters because the real joy of Wavetale is in its movement.
Flowing and energetic, you’ll seamlessly run, jump and surf around Wavetale‘s world, getting height as you jump through a wind tunnel or surf up a waterslide. It’s designed to be fast-paced and punchy and it really is. Traversal seamlessly leads into combat as you come across enemies, quickly dispatched with a few swings of the handy net you carry around. There’s nothing too challenging here – in platforming or combat – but we liked it that way. It makes for a relaxing adventure without worrying about when death might come for you.
Perhaps the main problem with Wavetale is that its missions can get a little repetitive. You’ll frequently be making your way up tall structures looking for ‘sparks’ – glowing orbs that can be used as an electricity source. You’ll flip dozens of switches and power up countless generators with missions all blurring into one another. A little more variety wouldn’t hurt, but it’s hard to hold too much of a grudge. After all, jumping and gliding up towers and to new islands still feels a lot of fun, even several hours in.
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Playing on PS5, we were held back by a technical issue: screen tearing. Hopefully this is something that can be fixed with a patch, because performance is otherwise smooth. But the odd bit of screen tearing pulls you out of the experience and ruins the otherwise pleasing art style of the game. Its muted colour palette sets the scene rather nicely and the bold lines of the cartoon-like appearance gives Wavetale a rather unique style.
If you can forgive the odd technical issue and you’re happy to sink into a rhythm of somewhat repetitive missions, Wavetale offers up an enjoyable five or six hours of laid-back gameplay. Its stylish and smooth traversal remains an absolute joy from start to finish: whether you’re skating along the water’s surface or jumping through wind tunnels, you’re going to have a smile on your face.