Wake ramps up the tension with its daunting premise, offering a unique and worthwhile experience.
Awaking to find yourself at the bottom of a sinking freighter is the stuff nightmares are made of, which is why Boss Baddie’s latest offering Wake is simply teeming with fear-driven tension. With water lashing at your feet and rising fast, you’ll want to move towards the top of the ship post-haste.
With its dark yet gorgeous atmosphere and huge environment to explore, Wake captures the dire situation perfectly and will make you feel the kind of anxiety you never thought possible from a video game – but in a good way, of course.
The engineer of a ship rouses from unconsciousness to find his vessel in the process of becoming the next lost city of Atlantis, with water slowly filling its innards. Your primary mission is to get him to the surface as quickly as possible, although there are a few interesting twists and turns along the way for those willing to explore a little.
Initial feelings are those of panic and confusion – the protagonist starts his journey at the very bottom of the ship, a little too close to the invading sea-water for comfort. He can run, jump and cling onto platform edges, so climbing to higher ground is a case of seeking out the best possible route, direct or otherwise.
The unnerving yet beautiful setting is made all the more prominent thanks to the unique graphical style on offer. A daunting darkness surrounds the player, with various light sources offering mild comfort. Every now and again, however, all the lights fail and the ship is plunged into darkness. It’s all wonderfully atmospheric, and you’ll occasionally find yourself stopping to catch your breath.
Once the initial playthrough is out of the way, it quickly becomes apparent that Wake offers much more than a simple race to the finish storyline. Holding the map button down reveals a huge ship made up of dozens of rooms that demand your exploratory attention. There are items to collect, including keys to unlock special routes and flares to light up dark passages, and vents to shuffle down. There are multiple pathways to the surface, and you’ll want to see them all, such is Wake‘s pulling power.
Exploring also leads to elements of the game you would not encounter otherwise, with answers to some of the game’s questions revealed. Why is the ship sinking? Are there any other survivors? Although the rising water means there is a limit to how long you can linger in the depths of the boat, you’re given plenty of time to find the truth, while still ensuring there is a suitable level of tension throughout.
It’s also worth noting that while the water is a very real problem, it’s not an immediate threat. Our engineer can in fact swim rather well, and can hold his breath for a decent amount of time, allowing him to dive down and uncover secrets in the very bowels of the ship.
Wake nearly falls apart at the seams due to a slightly botched controls scheme, which doesn’t meld together all that well on a keyboard. Fortunately, the game features Xbox 360 controller support, and is highly recommended. The Xbox button layout fits Wake‘s movement far more snugly, and provides a much more favourable experience. If you don’t own an Xbox 360 controller, this may just be the excuse you’ve been looking for.
With eighteen achievements to unlock and online scoreboards to top, there is plenty to keep you coming back to Wake‘s gloomy paradise. If you’re worried the issue with keyboard controls may affect your experience, give the demo a download.