Get ready for one harmonious trip.
Music is all around us. It’s become an integral part of our everyday lives, and I always have some of it on in the background whenever I’m writing anything on Gamezebo. But now in Wave Trip, mobile gamers will start to look at music in a whole different light, as the game’s soundtrack becomes each player’s lifeline and they play the role of savior and composer in this inventive and melodious new adventure.
If I had to compare Wave Trip to something, I’d say it’s like a more inviting, kid-friendly version of the acclaimed Waveform. The gameplay is simple: you move a peculiar triangle character (or maybe it’s a ship?) up and down in wavelength patterns. You touch the right side of the screen to ascend or descend, and tap the left side of the screen to deploy up to two shields in quick succession. Collecting orange coins will gradually work towards saving your friends, who have been trapped in alarming floating bubbles for one reason or another; while collecting blue coins will build up your score multiplier. This would have made for an average indie sidescrolling title, if not for one thing: the underlying music component that defines every aspect of the game. Collecting each coin adds a new music element to the game’s soundtrack, which repeats over time to the specific rhythm of which you are playing. And it’s absolutely awesome.
For instance, if you bypass an orange coin, the coins will repeat in the background so you have another pass to pick it up again. This lets players experiment with timing, and choose precisely when they want to add a new note to their song, and how they want that note to come in. You’ll actually find yourself controlling your ship to the rhythm of the game, instead of relying on your normal motor instincts to weave between the obstacles and pick up the coins as you see them. Conversely, getting hit by an enemy resets your multiplier, and lessens the components of the song you were building: stripping it down to a barebones track. Taking damage is accompanied by an appropriate record scratching or slowed rewinding sound, but deploying your shield at the correct time will repel those music-hating baddies off the screen, and keep your song healthy and alive.
The musicality in the game is one of those things you need to experience for yourself in order to fully appreciate, as each song is individually crafted to match the way you play the game. And speaking of the music, every sound in Wave Trip is bright and incredibly rich, from the high-pitched techno drum hits to the wacky keyboards strokes that blend together seamlessly for an intricate and multilayered soundtrack. Seriously, you’d have to really try to come up with an unimaginative song that doesn’t sound great no matter what in this game. The cartoon visuals are very easy on the eyes (especially those backgrounds), and the animations are all very smooth, but I did still have a hard time getting into the game’s abstract world and atmosphere. Wave Trip tries to be quirky, and it certainly has that quirky indie look, but I think the absence of a storyline or any explanation or motivation for what you are doing does affect the game in a negative way.
Given that Wave Trip is more of an experience rather than a game, it tends to feel a little lacking at times in terms of gameplay progression or meeting long-term goals. For one thing, I would have loved to see some different gameplay elements introduced the more you go along, other than just moving your ship and using your shield. Sadly, that’s all you’re limited to in the game, and aside from a few background changes and the occasional new enemy, what you see in stage one is what you get in stage twenty. You can’t exactly lose, and there’s not a big feeling of accomplishment when you play through each stage or “win” the game. Earning three triangles in a stage (or a “song,” as it’s called in the game) is not a necessarily difficult task, and every stage is unlocked from the onset, so there’s no real motivation to reach the end or master each song.
However, a disappointingly short story mode is saved by a deep level editor, or “song creator,” that comes with the ability to create your own song and share it with others from all over the globe. You can also play other user-uploaded compositions, to see what kind of Mozarts and Bachs are also out there in the world. And from someone who’s played an instrument for most of their life, writing a song on Wave Trip is a whole lot easier than writing a song on piano or guitar. You essentially choose which kinds of coins and enemies you want to place in your song and then drag and drop them onto a level grid in any way you see fit. Each coin or enemy corresponds to a specific sound, and when you’ve added a whole bunch of them, you can play through your stage as you would in the game and see if you have the next big symphony on your hands!
Even though it leaves a bit to be desired in the traditional video game sense, Wave Trip is still a wonderful testament to that magnificent thing we call music. From its simple intuitive controls, to its awesome song creation editor, this game makes sure that music always takes the center stage; and with good reason. One round with Wave Trip and you’ll be sure to hum along with those infectious little tunes for days!