Android Central Verdict
Bottom line: Wavetale is a pleasant surfing adventure that is short, but does not overstay its welcome with unnecessary padding. This First on Stadia release is perfect for those subscribed to Stadia Pro.
Colorful and brightly animated
Movement feels fast and surfing is smooth
Combat is mindless or easily avoided
Might be too easy for many players
Why you can trust Android Central
Wavetale launched on Stadia in a same-day announcement and release. It was revealed by famous actor Mark Hamill during a publisher showcase earlier this month, a tactic usually reserved for more high-profile games like Apex Legends and the more recent Halo Infinite.
In actuality, Wavetale is a short adventure game with more relaxing combat and platforming. The main draw is surfing through colorful environments and somewhat open waters, which is relaxing without becoming too monotonous.
Wavetale is a First on Stadia title, or timed-exclusive, and will be coming to PC and consoles sometime next year. However, unless you have Stadia Pro, Wavetale is not exactly an exclusive game you need to play now.
Wavetale: Gameplay, story, and presentation
|Thunderful Publishing AB
|Thunderful Publishing AB
|Nov. 10, 2021
Wavetale follows teenage girl Sigrid, who lives on a small island with her stern grandmother. The two have to continually power a lighthouse to keep away a surrounding wall of dark pollution called Gloom. After a giant wave of Gloom plows through the island, Sigrid encounters a shadowy figure swimming underneath the water that allows her to walk on the water. She then goes on a journey with her newfound power to find a way to stop the Gloom from taking over her home and the surrounding islands. Sigrid meets a cast of characters along the way, some with good, bad, or misguided intentions.
Besides the overarching world-saving plot, there is a heartfelt story about three generations of family and the idea that it is never too late to recognize one's own past mistakes. I just wish I could've gotten more of it since Wavetale is not a long game, and can be completed in about 5-7 hours. There is enough characterization within conversations about the times before the war and Gloom to get attached, and most of it happens while you are surfing, the game's main mechanic.
Sigrid can glide on the water between tiny islands in the open areas of the ocean. She has wide variety of movement options with gliding, running, boosting, double jumping, hovering, and grappling. Surfing is the most fleshed out method, allowing you to complete a higher jump by timing it with the top of a wave. A successful jump will make the character glow pink and dive underwater. You can then pop out again at the right time, dive, and bob in and out of the water like a fish.
Traveling like this takes up the majority of the game: going from one major island to the next on a long, straight path of ocean with the surrounding Gloom creating a hallway. Luckily, it's not all open ocean, with ramps and rocket boosts along the way to create a makeshift racetrack. These long treks only happen a few times, but the conversations and thumping soundtrack also hide the length of these trips.
Traveling on land is mostly a series of finding the next platform or object to grapple onto. The grapple is very generous, so you can easily zip through buildings and halfpipes by repeatedly tapping the grapple button. Combat is very simplified with a light and heavy attack, and the dark imp-like creatures only require a few hits to defeat. Most of the combat can be easily avoided unless the objective requires it, and rewards you with currency only used for cosmetic items.
An odd quirk in the game is that the left trigger is dedicated to aim, but there is nothing to shoot or throw. The settings have an adjustable aim speed and accessibility option to freeze time while aiming, but is not used at all during gameplay. The in-game notebook does not even recognize it exists alongside the other options. I was never in a situation to use it, but strange that it is included.
Wavetale is a very vibrant game with colorful environments and gentle or rocking ocean waves. The characters have expressions that remind me of the Squigglevision shows like Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist and Home Movies where the facial features are always moving. It fits the theme of the game to constantly keep moving whether it is surfing to the next area or flying around tall towers.
The pacing is not very manic, but relaxing once you get the hang of the movement. It is satisfying to time your jump to the crest of the wave for an extra boost or smoothly slide through a Sonic the Hedgehog-like platforming section. The game is just long enough that I enjoyed my experience, but I have no desire to return to it and finish sidequests or time trials.
Wavetale: Stadia performance and features
Wavetale on Stadia is a single-player game, and does not use any platform-exclusive features like State Share. As for performance, it ran perfectly fine and I did not notice any stuttering until right before the final encounter. The stuttering was brief even then. Of course, your performance may vary due to how fast and stable your internet connection is.
According to my Optimum connection's Speedtest, I had an average download speed of 266Mbps and an average upload speed of 21Mbps. Google recommends at least a 10Mbps download speed for 720p streaming, 20Mbps download speed for 1080p streaming, and at least a 35Mbps download speed for 4K streaming.
Wavetale: Should you buy it?
3.5 out of 5
Wavetale is a pleasant adventure with satisfying movement and a story with some heart and an underlying theme about man's impact on the environment. However, I can't recommend buying the game or jumping into the Stadia ecosystem just to play it because while the experience was fun, I was not left wanting more or replay it after the credits rolled. It is not one of the best Stadia games, but it is worth it if you have Stadia Pro and a couple of afternoons to easily play through it.
Wavetale on Stadia
Bottom line: Wavetale is a First on Stadia release that is perfect for Stadia Pro subscribers. It is a short, pleasant surfing adventure that does not overstay its welcome.
Thomas Meyer fell in love with video games starting in the mid '90s with a NES, Super Mario Bros., Duck Hunt, and Jack Nicklaus' Greatest 18 Holes of Major Championship Golf. He hasn't stopped and is not planning to anytime soon. Freelance for Android Central and Windows Central.