Waves PC Review

By: Nathaniel Velliquette

Waves timing seems a little off considering how many double stick shooters have popped up over the last couple years. The game offers the same old feeling that you would get from Geometry Wars and Beat Hazard but brings little content to the playing field. So if you really love vibrant arena shooters with pumping techno beats, this game will be a worthy investment. Otherwise, you might want to save your money.

A Dream

Waves is the child of Squid In A Box developer, Rob Hale. This game has me splitting down the middle because on one hand, its development is pretty impressive considering it was created by a one man developer, . I don’t doubt it took a lot of time and effort to put together. On the other hand, I feel Waves seems just like any another neon-colored arena shooter. The gameplay should not come as a surprise to anyone. Playing with a gamepad, you use both joysticks to  move and shoot. Playing with the keyboard is optional but isn’t highly suggested considering the quick maneuvering needed to survive even the first couple minutes of a round. You pilot a tiny ball that rolls around the screen and shoots lasers at geometric shapes that each have their own unique personalities. As you fight to survive the growing onslaught, you gain two meters: one for something called a time buffer and the other for bombs. The time buffer fills up as you go and will remain until you use it. The time buffer acts as a sort of very limited bullet time in pinches. The other meter is more of a combo counter; the more geometric shapes you have killed within a certain period of time the more you are apt to receive a bomb. So if you have a bomb and can use it on a massive group of targets, it is possible to chain together strings of bombs. These features are meant to make the game refreshing and innovative, but really are just there to slightly spice up the gameplay.

Where’s My Pacifism and King?

Waves offers five similar gametypes. Rob Hale’s humor leaks through in the menus of the game. The subtitle for the gametype Crunch Time reads, “It’s like speed-dating with guns! Texas speed dating.” Crunch Time is a timed score challenge that requires the player to strive for the most points in three minutes. This and Survival, which gives you replenishable three lives to achieve the highest score, are both the standard gametypes and don’t offer much variety. They are perfect, however, for sizing up your friends on the online leaderboards by providing purely twitch skill shooting. The other two, Rush and Survival, are meant to spice up things but end up not being quite as satisfying as the unique Bombing Run. Here, your lasers are disabled and you must pick up and dispose of bombs littering the arena. You must agilely weave through groups of enemies to drop bombs off in disposal areas, and when you do so, the resulting explosion kills anything nearby. This was the gametype I found myself playing the most considering my topping-the-leaderboard-in-Geometry Wars days are over. Instead this is a fun gametype to have fun with a good game engine.


The visuals in Waves is possibly the most appealing aspect. Even though it’s a top down shooter and it uses a ton of older influences to its style, it is hard to overcome the beautiful neon glow with a distorting background. It evokes a lot of nostalgia. The ball doesn’t quite seem to fit the setting though. However, reading through Rob Hale’s interview on our site, you can understand why it ultimately ended up this way. Overlaying the nostalgia-glossed visuals is a fabulous techno infused soundtrack. Again, another thing I am a sucker for. It pulses and distorts with the action of the game. With a one man developer, I was worried the soundtrack would be comprised of a single track, but fortunately Squid In A Box took on SMILETRON from 8-bit Collective to create a unique track for each gametype. All of them are very fitting and maintain the intensity of the visuals and gameplay. It is funny to me that some of the sound effects are directly from Unreal Tournament and this makes me wonder if it was a style choice or the only sound effects available? Considering it was made on the Unreal Engine, I am assuming it’s the latter.

Conclusion – Is It Worth Your Money?

Waves is stuck in a rut. It provides the same old gameplay most shooter veterans are familiar with but at the same time maintains it so well that it could appeal to those dedicated to the genre. I feel the game is way overpriced considering its lack of standards that have arisen in arena shooters released a couple years ago. In my mind, I would not lay down $10 for Waves when I could get Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved for $4. However, it is an absolute must for anyone who loves this style of game. With the various gameplay options, Waves offers several challenges to keep fans interested. Before you side with me and say this game is nothing new, definitely consider the circumstances. Here we have an up-and-coming developer who single handedly made a stable game that rivals the critically successful shooters of today.

Waves Technical Summary:

  • Time played- 12 Hours
  • Widescreen Support- Yes
  • 5.1 Audio- Yes
  • DRM- None if bought via Squid In A Box, Steamworks
  • Control Scheme- Gamepad, Keyboard and Mouse
  • Game Acquisition- Review Copy
  • Availability- Steam, Official Site
  • Demo- Yes
  • System Specs- Core 2 Duo, GeForce 9800, 4GB RAM

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3 thoughts on “Waves PC Review

  1. I’m psyched, as I love shooters of all kinds. And, *gasp*, a demo that doesn’t require Steam [1]!

    Purchasing from the developer directly [2] gives you a non-DRM’ed version. I think the article should mention that. Furthermore, links in article’s text to the developer’s website, Steam entry and demo would be nice.


  2. Pingback: Weekly Indie Update (Week 49 of 2011)

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