Wavetale – Review
Follow Genre: Adventure game
Developer: Zoinks Games, Thunderful Games
Publisher: Thunderful Games
Platform: PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series XIS, Switch
Tested On: Switch

Wavetale – Review

Site Score
Good: Fantastic story and incredibly worldbuilding
Bad: Mediocre gameplay with minor technical issues
User Score
(1 votes)
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VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 7.0/10 (1 vote cast)

With Google shutting down the Stadia service this month, it’s good to see previously exclusive titles make the jump to other platforms. One such game is Thunderful Games and Zoink Games’ adventure title Wavetale, which hit PC and consoles last December. The game slipped under our radar when it was originally released back in November of 2021, but with the second chance Wavetale got, we were more than eager to dive into what the game had to offer.


We didn’t quite expect how much focus Wavetale put on its story and worldbuilding, but were pleasantly surprised with what we were presented with. Set in a flooded world, Wavetale introduces us to the cynical teenager Sigrid, who lives in the appropriately named Strandville with her grandma. Grandma is overprotective and doesn’t want Sigrid to explore the world beyond Strandville, mainly because she is concerned about Gloom, a cloudy darkness that covers much of the surrounding sea, which is seemingly tied to the mysterious Paws. Sigrid’s sheltered life is flipped upside down when she gets caught up in a tidal wave during a supply run. She accidentally runs into an otherworldly being that mirrors her movements underwater, allowing our teenage heroine to walk and surf on the surface of the sea. With her newfound power, she’s able to convince grandma to venture into uncharted seas to gather supplies and earn money. This is of course the start of Wavetale’s full adventure, which sees our heroine deal with the Gloom and even piece together what happened with her deceased mother.

The audiovisual presentation plays a huge part in the success of Wavetale’s narrative, and we’ll get to what works in the respective sections of this review, but we also have to mention the excellent and witty writing. The banter between the sarcastic Sigrid and her grandma, who communicates with her through a headset, really helps to make these characters feel fleshed out and real. The story is mostly told over cutscenes, and every single one of these is meaningful. Sigrid’s opening monologue in particular is a highlight, perfectly encapsulating her wanderlust and setting the tone for the coming-of-age story that is about to unfold. The supporting cast is delightful as well, as Sigrid runs into a plethora of memorable characters. Because the story is so integral to what makes Wavetale great, we won’t spoil how things play out but rest assured, you better keep a box of tissues handy as there are some real tearjerker moments here.


The gorgeous low poly art style is what drew us into Wavetale initially. The character designs look like they stepped straight out of a storybook, and the use of pastel hues gives the game a distinct visual identity. In-game menus and character portraits during dialogue take on a hand-drawn appearance, and these capture the characters’ personalities even better. The only real gripe we had with Wavetale’s visuals was that the on-screen text was very small and occasionally difficult to read. Supposedly, visual performance is also better on other platforms than the Switch, but we didn’t really have any issues with how Nintendo’s platform handled Wavetale. The screenshots don’t really do the game justice as this is a game that looks infinitely better in motion than it does in freeze frames.


Right from the get-go, Wavetale sets a very high bar for itself when it comes to audio. The game opens with a monologue delivered by Sigrid, voiced by McKenzie Atwood. It only lasts for about a minute but it masterfully establishes our protagonist’s personality. The supporting cast also absolutely nails their characters’ voices, from the pompous Mr. Klout to Sigrid’s tenacious grandma herself. We played the game in English, but we should note that other language options exist for the game’s audio. The excellent soundscape doesn’t end with the voices either, as composer Joel Bille’s soundtrack is another highlight. We found ourselves returning to it even after we were done with the game. It’s readily available on YouTube, so we really recommend giving it a listen, even if Wavetale doesn’t pique your interest as a game.


The world that Wavetale is set in may be post-apocalyptic, but exploring it is a leisurely affair. Players accompany Sigrid as she sets out to rid the world of the Paws and the Gloom, exploring the islands of the archipelago and meeting their inhabitants in the process. Most of your time is spent in the water, and given how fluid skating around the sea is compared to Sigrid’s relatively sluggish movement on land, that’s a good thing. The seas are filled with obstacle courses, puzzles, and enemies. The world initially feels small, but as you progress through the game, the effects of the Gloom start to clear up, gradually opening up everything around you. Despite the open world-like structure, Wavetale misses an opportunity as the game doesn’t really allow you to stray off the linear path that the story lays out for you. There is still a feeling of freedom here, and the further you are in the game, the more opportunities for exploration pop up, but this is still a by-the-numbers game.

Although Wavetale technically isn’t a sports game but an adventure title instead, it’s hard not to think of the myriad of skating or surfing games that exist as you’re zooming across the waves. It’s clear that Wavetale at least takes some inspiration, as the bulk of the gameplay centers around zipping around the ocean while also performing tricks, such as double-jumping or grappling, to solve puzzles. We also can’t avoid mentioning The Legend of Zelda: The Windwaker in particular, as that game also clearly influenced Wavetale’s developers, both in terms of gameplay structure and stylistically. Nevertheless, despite these influences, Wavetale manages to feel original, establishing an identity of its own rather than feeling like a carbon copy of the games that inspired it. Wavetale utilizes familiar elements and recognizable mechanics in its puzzle design, making for an intuitive and accessible game, for the most part.

Controls are a bit of a double-edged sword here. On the one hand, zooming across the water with the left joystick felt responsive, smooth, and natural. On the other hand, rotating the view with the right joystick was a fiddly affair, especially because Wavetale has the tendency to reset the camera to its default starting position, often at inopportune times, like during boss battles where you’ll need to be able to aim your long jumps quickly yet precisely. Wavetale isn’t a game that really puts a heavy focus on combat, but it’s frustrating to see that what little of it is here can really put a wrench in the game’s flow. We found that the autosave function doesn’t kick in nearly as often as we would want, so we had to play through significant chunks of the game more than once when things went wrong. Wavetale isn’t a very long game in the first place, but there are more elegant ways to pad out a game. Fighting generic enemies was less tedious, and simply involved spamming the light attack button over and over. We barely touched the heavy attack button as it felt redundant.

The minor grievances mentioned above resulted in mixed feelings about Wavetale’s gameplay. We absolutely adore the world and its inhabitants, and the five hours it took us to play through the game flew by. Ultimately, it felt like our time in Strandville was all over too soon. Technically, we could go back to unlock additional outfits for Sigrid, so there certainly is some kind of incentive to go back. However, having seen the story play out, there is very little reason to dive back into the ocean, at least immediately after beating the game. It’s not a bad game by any means but the core gameplay loop is too repetitive and shallow to warrant replaying it.


Wavetale’s best elements are its storytelling and audiovisual presentation. These are so strong that it’s worth picking up the game just to immerse yourself in Sigrid’s tale, even if the mediocre gameplay doesn’t quite live up to expectations. The relatively high price point probably means that this one is best picked up at a discount, but if you enjoy a great story with a strong cast, then this is a game that is definitely worthy of your attention.

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 7.0/10 (1 vote cast)
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
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Wavetale - Review, 7.0 out of 10 based on 1 rating

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