Genre: Adventure, Platformer, Action.
System: Nintendo Switch (Also available on Steam (Windows) PS5, PS4, Google Stadia, Xbox Series X&S).
Developer | Publisher: Thunderful | Thunderful Group
Age Rating: US T | EU 7+
Price: USD $29.99 | UK £24.99 | EU € 29.99
Release Date: December 12th, 2022
Review code used, with many thanks to Plan of Attack.
After approximately a year since its release in Stadia as a time-exclusive, Wavetale has come to Nintendo Switch (together with PC and other consoles) to allow everyone to experience it. Developed by Thunderful, this exploration-adventure game offers not only a wholesome experience from its relaxing atmosphere and beautiful art style. Besides that, it also brings an engaging story that leaves the player wanting more.
This is a game with profound, meaningful messages within. It is not just a tale about a girl surfing the waves swiftly. It is about family, old and new friends, war and conflict, ambition turning into greed, and loss. Yet, if anything, Wavetale explores all that with a feeling of freedom rarely felt in games.
When the Mysterious Fog Came
The story is set on a small island where the protagonist, Sigrid lives with her grandmother, Doris. Sigrid can only dream of what is beyond that island since a dark fog surrounds them, leaving no horizon to travel to. It is her task, together with her restless hard working grandmother, to keep the lighthouse of the island functioning, given that it helps keep the fog at bay.
But then, one day, something happened with the fog. While Sigrid is picking up “sparks” to fuel the lighthouse, the fog starts to expand, even to the point of covering the island with weird dark goo. After the commotion, something unique happens to Sigrid as she is stranded on a small piece of the island away from her grandmother. She meets a shadow under the water that lets her walk on her feet so Sigrid can move (and even surf) over the water.
Thanks to Sigrid’s spark-catching net, she can get rid of the dark goo on the island and help her grandmother. Once they see what is going on, they investigate and try to fix it. And so it begins the journey to save their home from the mysterious fog.
Finally, an Adventure in the Ocean!
Once Sigrid starts venturing and exploring the other islands, she realizes there is more about the world than she has been told. She learns a few new skills that make her movement around the map smoother and meets many characters, most of them with side quests that are quite simple yet a great addition to the journey. Most ask her to find people or resources lost around the islands.
It is not only the fog that came to this post-apocalyptic island society. Some aggressive dark creatures are terrorizing these islands as well. But just like the dark goo can be removed with the spark-catching net, so are the monsters vulnerable to it.
So to not go too deep into details, the game loop goes like that. Going to the necessary area, climbing or jumping through platforms and towers in different islands, activating switches and generators, collecting sparks and other material used as currency to buy cosmetics and skins. Also, using Sigrid’s skills to surf around and jump high with the help of her net. The fun in these simple tasks is mainly in the smoothness and subtlety of Sigrid’s movement. It makes the exploration very satisfying and not stressful at all.
What makes it Special
Many other people may see the resemblance with The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker because of the explorative sea, the art style, and the feeling it gives when surfing around the ocean. It is undeniably there but separates from it because of certain elements.
The combat of Wavetale is not very complex and doesn’t evolve with any upgrades or new attacks. Parallel to that, the enemies are easy to fight and beat, which is not a downside in this type of experience. Even with the bosses, it doesn’t stop being fun because it also continues positively, adding to the rest of its aspects.
Clearly, this game primarily focuses on the art, story, and mainly the freedom and swiftness of the protagonist’s movement, and it does it wonderfully. Other than that, the sound effects and music are splendid.
But in the end, the voice acting was one thing that made the immersion unique. It felt genuine, well-placed, and emotionally matched to the plot. That, together with the short cutscenes during the game, made it so fulfilling that there was no way not to get at least a bit interested in the story (I got much more than that).
The only aspects that could be improved are few and open to different opinions. Things like the usefulness of the currency that is earned are one example. The only way to use this resource is by buying skins and cosmetics from one of the characters.
But very early in the game, the player can find a vast amount of it, making it quite simple always to have even more than you need. The same currency is also earned from almost every side quest and on hidden places, so it would have been nice to have another use for this resource.
Another thing that is not really negative but would have added much more to the experience is the reward for exploring. Indeed, only the movement of Sigrid, the art, the sound, and the exploring itself can feel satisfying and rewarding. But knowing that secrets can be around is a thrill that many players look for when cruising a world on an exploration game. Yet, it is still lovely to traverse this ocean just for its beauty.
Wavetale is a relaxing adventure game that will give pleasurable enjoyment to those who want to explore together with an emotional and hooking story. It is not a demanding game, in a good way. It is a short game that takes around 5 hours to complete, yet it can be more depending on how each player wanders across these oceans. This is what you are looking for, especially for players who don’t feel they have much time to invest in playing or learning complex controls. It is relaxing, enjoyable, short, and fun, so check it out!
Final Verdict: Two Thumbs Up