The only time I cared about Google Stadia came during EGX 2022, when I tried out Wavetale for the first time. I almost bought into the platform until it unceremoniously shut down recently. Thankfully, Wavetale has now been ported to PlayStation, Xbox, and Windows PC.
Wavetale is a story-driven 3D platformer like nothing I’ve ever experienced before. In the game, you play as Sigrid. Sigrid, the granddaughter of the lighthouse keeper, yearns for adventure on the waters of the flooded world and gets her wish when a dark and dangerous fog, known as the Gloom, descends. Strandville, the town, blames the dangers on a long war with a group known as the Dirty Paws for all their troubles.
Initially, Sigrid can’t swim and lives her life on the lighthouse island, collecting the Sparks needed to power it. Almost immediately, the adventure begins, and when the Gloom descends and almost claims her Grandma, Sigrid finds help from a mysterious Shadow that allows her to travel on the water.
What follows is a heartwarming and well-thought-out story. It sees Sigrid travelling by water to various islands to help the townspeople and ultimately save them from the Gloom.
As the player, you can follow the main plot linearly, but there are numerous side-quests you can undertake that aid the townsfolk in that area. Sadly, they can feel a little samey with the typical ‘collect this’ or ‘find that’ type of assignment. The main quest is also relatively simple. Gameplay is relatively simple in Wavetale. Right from the start (after the prologue), you can access your full range of abilities and movement controls. Playing through the platformer-style areas will require some finesse and do present challenges, although there was nothing that I found too taxing. All in all, it makes Wavetale a fun experience, with the story’s pacing unhindered by the repetition of difficult-to-accomplish platformer mechanics.
Throughout the game, you can collect mini-sparks from side-quests and exploration, and with these, you can purchase some in-game cosmetics for Sigrid. Ranging from outfits to hair colours. While they don’t appear in cutscenes, they’re still fun to collect and make your version of Sigrid feel a little more unique.
Wavetale Is All About Movement
Movement in Wavetale is really the main draw to the game. While you’re on land, you can jump, double jump and glide and using these movements in tandem allow you to access the different areas you need to reach to progress. Sigrid also carries a net, which can be used to connect to attachment points that allow for swinging or fast-moving up the side of a building. In addition, the net is the primary weapon to defeat the variety of monsters that have appeared from the Gloom.
This all translates to being on the water as well, with fast-paced surfing added into the mix. The whole movement system feels so fluid and well-designed that it’s genuinely impressive. It’s hard to describe just how good movement feels in this game, and you really need to experience it first-hand.
Graphics and Audio
Wavetale is brilliantly scored, and well voice acted throughout. As such, you really feel drawn into the world and care about these characters. It’s all very charming, and this charm carries through to the visual style.
The graphics style is truly wonderful. It’s cartoony and colourful, and the cell shading is fantastic. The faces are also hand-drawn animations which only adds to the charm. The visual style makes you want to explore. Makes you want to stay immersed in this watery world. The game also feels refreshing in how diverse the world feels with various orientations, skin tones, and personalities. I wish these side characters had more depth to them.
Some Minor Complaints with Wavetale
While I do genuinely love this game, Wavetale isn’t all perfect. I will say it’s a fantastic port, and you wouldn’t know it hadn’t been on these platforms before. Wavetale, sadly, is very short. It won’t take more than five or six hours to finish everything. Sadly the free-roam mode after the story is done feels empty and lacking. The side NPCs aren’t developed outside of the quest they give you, and there are not a lot of extras to do once you’ve beaten the main quest.
Combat in the game can also feel very samey. There isn’t a lot of diversity in the attack styles or moves, so it feels quite basic when those encounters appear. Even the variety of monsters is quite limited. Visually, however, it’s a delight.
Final Thoughts on Wavetale
Wavetale is a fun, vibrant, engaging 3D platformer with a story at its heart. Movement is the primary lure to this title with its fluid controls and fast-paced traversal system. While the combat feels basic, and the overall game is short, Wavetale is charming, visually beautiful, and just a joy to play. If Stadia were still around, I would have gotten it just for this game. That’s how much Wavetale captured my heart. Thankfully, you, and I, can enjoy it on a variety of platforms.