In case you missed it, this week I played Wave Break on Indie-licious. Coming out of Funkotronic Labs, it's essentially a Tony Hawk-style skateboarding game, but with motorboats and animal people instead of skateboards and pro skaters.
One of the things that stand out most is the aethetic. Wave Break's levels are an 80s Miami Vice-fueled array of neon and tropical colors, mostly in the blue, pink, and orange. Mix that with anthropomorphized animal people that are basically fixed up like Scarface and Miami Vice characters and it makes for a pretty fun style aided by a solid synthwave soundtrack that both felt good to chill and vibe to, and got me hyped on certain songs.
The levels are also really fun and interestingly designed. The first is a dingy warehouse, but it isn't long before you hit an island hotel, and later a downtown coastal city. The levels do well to capture that same aesthetic I talked about before, but I also like the fact that your boat can travel on land. Sure, it's not exactly realistic, but I like that I'm not confined very specifically to the water and can actually fully explore what these levels have to offer. Also, again, animal people in Miami Viceland doing kickflips on motorboats. Let's leave realism at the door.
The objectives in these areas follow the typical Tony Hawk format: score so many points, grab letters to spell a word, collect level-specific collectibles like risque boat magazines and secret tapes, and do tricks at certain parts. There's also story-centric missions throughout each level that give you special tasks to do and give some narrative to the situation. Still, I think the most compelling among the normal objectives was the C-O-M-B-O goals in which you have to grab letters to spell out the full word in order in one trick chain. It's both challenging and satisfying to accomplish and I actually wish Tony Hawk had something like that.
Of course, let's talk about the skating. Er... boating. So Wave Break is kind of wierd in that you have an accelerator and reverse. This takes up two buttons immediately - buttons that would usually be used for manuals and reverts. But I learned that doesn't mean those aren't in the game. Actually you can access them by button combinations like other tricks. Still, it will be quirky for folks used to Tony Hawk to get used to. It definitely was for me. Nonetheless, I'm glad the option to extend trick strings in such a manner is there.
What's more offputting is the mix of boat physics into skating. On one hand, you can turn on a dime. On another, there's a lot of water-centric response of your vehicle to the surf in this game that makes it difficult to properly gauge and time your tricks. It's defintely a manner of relearning to adjust to the physics this game uses, but still it feels strange at times.
A couple things I haven't gotten to yet are the online play and the unlocking of new characters, but that latter is kind of a early bummer in my opinion. You start with one character in the game and have to unlock the others through game progress in single player. I'd really just rather pick which one I want to play from the start and maybe have one or two characters that have to be unlocked as a secret or bonus. At the very least as you play the game, you collect money that can be used to score customization unlocks for boats, decorations, character customization, and stat upgrades, so that's nice.
Nonetheless, the multiplayer looks like it could be robust. Wave Break has an online multiplayer in which you can play levels with friends. It also has a park creator and Steam Workshop support for it so you can upload your park or explore what the community has put together. I hope this game catches on because I'd love to see some cool community-created levels in this game.
I still have a lot more to see, but Indie-licious is about first impressions and Wave Break left a good one. Whether it was completing difficult missions, exploring levels, chasing after narrative missions, or getting unlocks, I had an interesting time learning this game's ways. It wasn't always smooth, there's a lot of relearning to do, and I wish there were more characters at the starting point. However, when all of that involves a drug lord bear doing kickflips in a speedboat in a neon-drenched city of crime and justice, I have to say I'm pretty much all in on seeing more.
Wave Break is available now on Nintendo Switch and PC via Steam. If you dig skateboarding games like Tony hawk, check it out and let me know what you think!