Wavetale is a story-driven action-adventure game by Thunderful. It originally released back in 2021 on Google Stadia, however as the streaming platform was not available here in Australia, I had not heard of the game before. It wasn’t until I saw the recent trailer announcing it was coming to PC and consoles that I was immediately captivated by the game’s music. Couple that with the water-based exploration which reminded me of games like Exo One and Omno, I knew I was in for a relaxing yet engaging ride, and what a fantastic ride it is.
Players explore an open sea and the decaying archipelago of Strandville. Traverse calm waters and surging waves as Sigrid, a young girl who befriends a mysterious shadow that provides her with the power to walk on water. With this ability, you will be skimming along the water’s surface, over waves, jumping to platforms and using your magic fishing net to float further along. There are also flashing items that you can zip across to, with some boosting you further forward.
As you explore land-based locations, you will meet a heap of townsfolk who are trapped in globs of gloom. Each person you meet has their own quirky personality and are all voice acted which was a pleasant surprise. Swiping away the gloom clouds with release these people, and sometimes out pops some simple monsters that are easily dispatched in two hits. Combat is a minor detail in comparison to the exploration and engagement in the story. You can die if you’re not dodging away from the enemies, however they are very easy to beat. There are also little orange figures that can be collected and used to unlock cosmetic items.
At first, I was keen to collect them all and had a quick skim through the cosmetic options, but honestly it was almost unnecessary to have the cosmetic system at all. Sigrid’s base look is perfect for the setting and aside from giving me reason to explore every corner of each land mass, I could just have well gone through the game without looking at the cosmetics menu. There will be players that will take much more away from the cosmetics so it’s still good to have them there. For me through, I was far more intrigued in progressing the story and solving side quests.
Gameplay consists of jumping to platforms to find sparks, and these will provide power to generators which active switches and launchpads. Under the guidance of your cranky grandmother, you will work to collect sparks to power up lighthouses and other contraptions that will push back the large gloom clouds that are threatening to take over everything. There are collectibles that add notes into your scrapbook and help to tell a tale of family and loss. Sigrid has lost both her parents as well as her grandfather, so the grandmother is all she has left and as such, is quite overprotective.
It’s the game’s artwork and amazing soundtrack that got me hooked on the game and reminds me that games like this are great for the soul. As I was gliding, jumping and floating around some areas, the music took me back to being a kid in the 80’s listening to music of that era. There was also one moment where we need to travel a fair distance to the next major land mass and Sigrid’s voice actress started singing a song. It was a particularly beautiful moment where the fluid freeflowing movement coupled with the soft aesthetic and this angelic music in my ears that took my stresses away.
There have been other indie games like Submerged: Hidden Depths, Exo One, Omno and many others that strip back a game to its bare parts and create a zen-like gaming experience that you resonate with, and the stories stay with you long after completing them. I’m pleased to add Wavetale to this list. I’m so happy that we get to play a game like this, and I hope more people discover it for themselves.
Overall, Wavetale is a wholesome and zen-like experience with simple yet engaging exploratory gameplay, backed up by an incredibly relaxing soundtrack and superb voice acting. This game is perfect for those cozy weekends where all the housework is done, the kids are in bed, and you want to lose yourself in a good video game. Wavetale is worth your time.
This review utilised a Steam key provided by Plan of Attack and Wavetale is available December 13 for us in Australia on Steam, PlayStation and Nintendo Switch, with the Xbox version launching on December 14.
Written by: @ChrisJInglis