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Wavetale Review

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The sea is an-all powerful presence, especially for those of us situated on the tiny UK isles. Ever encroaching, always mesmerising, it can be a place of tranquil fun or disastrous despair – once the sea casts its spell, it holds you forever. 

Wavetale is a game that initially found a home on the ill-fated Google Stadia platform, now finding ways to move to new consoles. It’s a tale that – as you can guess from the title – takes place in and around the sea. It’s a tale about lost worlds and new adventures. It’s a tale that you’ll thoroughly enjoy. 

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Wavetale reminds a little of playing old-school games, stuff like Spyro on the PS1 and PS2. I don’t mean that the game is retro-looking, far from it, it just has that feeling in terms of tone, story, and gameplay. I enjoyed that feeling and it allows for a relaxing gameplay experience, one with smooth gameplay and a fairytale premise.

The game is set after a terrible apocalyptic event in which the world has been left submerged by the sea, with a handful of islands left scattered around. To make things even worse there is an evil fog that threatens these small worlds, as well as the creatures within. The only thing holding back this fog is a lighthouse and its connecting light beams. 

You play the part of a young woman, Sigrid, who lives with her grandmother on the lighthouse island. Sigrid – while surviving an attack by the fog – learns that there is a shadow version of herself underwater and now she has some abilities of her own. One of these is that she can now walk and ride on the water. It’s with this in which she takes her grandmother and heads off to link all the other islands, uniting the remaining world against the fog. 

The story is a nice family-friendly one, full of colourful characters and mini-stories that appear from everyone you meet. But the writing is very good, with some nice heart-warming pieces of prose about loss and family that tugs at the heartstrings at times. 

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The gameplay is simple, fun, and relaxing to play. One of the great things about Wavetale is the opportunity to travel across the water as Sigrid. It’s like a brilliant skateboarding adventure, as you jump the waves and use ramps and tubes to lift you across islands. You can go anywhere, but the main story focuses you from island to island. Here you have several objectives which means turning on power supplies, platforming, and gliding. These are collection quests and there are loads of little side quests to help local characters along the way as well. 

There is some combat to be had in Wavetale too, and luckily you have a staff with you. But any battling is pretty relaxing, never too hard or tricky to action. The bosses range from small little fog creatures to bigger ones which are a bit tougher, but it’s not Dark Souls by any means. There are also some nice side quests which include racing another person you rescue from the fog; this is a lot of fun and utilises the speed of wave riding. 

Visually the game has the look and aesthetic in its world that, with its simple tools, creates an interesting and wonderful world to explore. When you get up close to characters in the cut scenes, Wavetale does show its indie roots and doesn’t seem as impressive, but the world and creature designs are top-notch. 

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The soundtrack also is very good, with some brilliant music to complement your wave riding and the travelling between the islands. Any voice-over work is only found in selected moments, rarely covering all the text conversations, but when it does arrive it’s very good. A special shout out must go to a song that Sigrid sings from her childhood; it’s haunting. 

A six hour long action adventure, Wavetale is a pleasurable family-friendly game that is both relaxing and intriguing at the same time. Wavetale won’t be everyone’s cup of tea and some might find the tone too whimsical or childlike, but for others it’ll feel original, entertaining, and absorbing. That’s what every game should aim for.

Wavetale is on the Xbox Store

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