Wavetale looks like Wind Waker and feels like Jak and Daxter. It's not quite a retro throwback, but it's definitely a love letter to the past.
- Title: Wavetale
- Release Date: December 12, 2022
- Price: $29.99
- Suggested Audience Age: Rated T for Teen by the ESRB
- Availability: Stadia, Switch, PlayStation, Xbox, Steam
- Recommended for fans of: Classic Platformers, Beautiful Art, and Morose Storytelling
Geek to Geek Media was provided with a review copy of this title.
Along with Swordship, Wavetale is another Thunderful game with a great art style that I didn’t quite get time to see at PAX West this year. Oddly enough, it's also set in a flooded post-apocalypse, although this one is much more Wind Waker than Waterworld.
Based on the in-game map, I’d guess I’m about halfway through this 3D platforming adventure, and I am absolutely adoring it. The world is interesting enough, but it's the fantastic gameplay and quiet, emotional moments between characters that really make this one shine.
The World of Wavetale
Wavetale has you stepping into the shoes of Sigrid— a barefooted, plucky protagonist with bright blue hair, a magical fishing net, and a penchant for platforming. She and her adorable and badass grandma run a lighthouse that uses special energy called Sparks to keep a dark, mysterious fog at bay.
Throughout the story, you meet other citizens who live on the various islands of the flooded world, and everyone helps to fill in the backstory of the world. From what I have gathered, the flooding of the world and the dark clouds are both attributed to an enemy in a war years ago. Now those same foes seem to be coming back to finish the job.
Surfing and Jumping
Sigrid is a very capable protagonist with an awesome set of platforming skills that make Wavetale a delight. She feels like she stepped straight out of Jak & Daxter or Sly Cooper, with a double jump, dash, glide, and grappling hook, all centered around her fishing net. The main action segments of the game are all built around scaling towers and fighting off shadowing figures, but the fun is very much centered on platforming challenges and puzzle-solving over combat.
Outside of the towers, Sigrid surfs. Well, sort of. At the start of the game, she meets some sort of shadowy sea creature who sort of acts like her shadow below the waves. You get from island to island by leaping into the sea and landing on your opposite's feet, and then you just glide across the waves.
There is even less to do as you traverse the ocean than there is in Wind Waker, but the surfing feels so good I found myself just cruising around in circles.
The quiet moments
Cruising across the sea in Wavetale feels great, but it also makes me feel great. This game doesn't have the sort of soundtrack that would ever get stuck in my head, but there's a quiet, kind of sad series of tunes that play while you cruise around that are magical. Like, turn on my Switch and just leave it sitting there while I read kind of fantastic music.
On top of that, throughout your journeys across the ocean, there are little conversations that pop up apparently randomly. Your character will call up her grandma and just have a little chat about the world, or your late mother, or the time your grandma pushed your grandpa into a first date and first base.
Once Sigrid quietly sang a song to herself, only for me to realize she was actually singing to her new underwater friend, and I absolutely had tears in my eyes as she said it was a song her mom used to sing.
I don’t think that Wave Tale is going to be a long game and I don’t think it's going to make a big splash in terms of gameplay, but my time with it so far has been magical. I adore the art style and the storytelling so much, and the gameplay feels like such a smooth throwback to the PS2 era that there is very little to complain about.
Sure, the way it tutorializes things can be a little obtuse and the frame rate is a bit inconsistent on the Switch, but I expect those things from this sort of an indie title. All of its strengths absolutely overshadow any weaknesses, though, and leave me with a title that I absolutely adore.