Speaking as a heterosexual male, it’s totally possible to love two women at the same time. No doubt it’ll earn you a place in Hell, but there it is. I try not to get worked up about it and I certainly don’t make it the primary subject of everyday conversation.

But this is great news for gaming because in just the same way it’s also totally possible to love two arena shooters at the same time. A mere month after professing my deep throbbing love for Charlie Knight’s Scoregasm, I am here committing infidelity telling you all about Rob Hale’s Waves. If only we could make it a threesome.

Anyway. Bloody Hell. Waves.

I’d been playing the beta for some time but I paid my monies as soon as it was released last week. Upon this momentous event I tweeted:

Waves is out! 1 min of its edge-of-seat bullet ballet = the handstrain of 6 self-love sessions. Buying now.

All true. I don’t just ejaculate out theories like this without beating off the naysayers with the scientific method.

My love affair with Waves was a strange one. Like a girl at school you think nothing of, yet talk to every single day. You get along real well but, you know, she’s just not your type. Friends are mocking the way you spend far too much time with your “girlfriend”. Then one day you have a dream where the two of you are, uh, doing substantially more than talking and you wake to the hot, sticky realisation that you must be in love.

See, I toyed with an old Waves beta that I got some months back. I thought it was okay. Nothing special. Not worthy of an Electron Dance post. But if that were true, why did I keep playing it during the odd few minutes here and there? Nothing special. Sure, buddy.

Of course, the end of this story is now well-documented and in the public domain. I had a secret assignation with the latest version of Waves at Eurogamer Expo 2011 and realised that I loved this game. Instead of hugging developer Rob Hale on the spot and weeping with joy, I gave him one of the rare and coveted Electron Dance badges.

I think he preferred that.


Okay, brass tacks time. The grunt of Scoregasm is entirely different to that of Waves. Scoregasm thrives on its breathing rhythm, shoot from afar, close-range attack, shoot from afar, close-range attack – and it also allows you to win. Waves? No, no, no. Waves is about ducking death for as long as possible, because Waves has no ending: it will always kill you. It’s a John Woo arena shooter shot through with nihilism.

The player is represented by a small orb which moves beautifully, as if gliding through heated syrup. The orb’s response to input feels just right. It leads to play that resembles dancing with your enemies; catch me if you can. Waves is about making your last dance count. It is your last request before the firing squad get you.

There’s also slo-mo bullet time which is pretty much essential to keep you alive when things get desperate. Plus, it makes you feel Superman awesome when you obliterate everything on the screen in slo-mo on the Bombing Run mode. I think Bombing Run, which I learnt to hate in an earlier incarnation of the beta, has turned out to be my favourite mode which dials the dancing formula up to the max – pure fancy footwork without the guns.

Oh my God it’s filthy pretty, and there’s nary a moment when your screen is not aglow with hot confetti. Rob Hale, whose last project was Ninja Theory’s Enslaved, has put together a delectable visual signature which is very much his own.


But be warned that Waves is hard, harder than the standard Scoregasm game. Try out the demo first to see if it’s your cup of quadruple-shot cappuccino.

To finish off, I’ve recorded a gameplay video with live voiceover. Sorry about the sound quality in places, my PC reset the sound levels prior to the session just to ensure that my voice is in constant competition with the music. But I will draw your attention to two important points about this video:

  • Somehow I wind up telling the very strange story of how I got married
  • I promise you this is the only Waves video on the planet that features a near-death experience

If I’ve made you hungry for some Waves action, go visit the Squid In A Box site and do your hands some damage right now.


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17 thoughts on “Dances With Waves

  1. A most excellent and only slightly dirty write-up. Also, I’ll have to agree. Waves is brilliant, even though I still prefer SYNSO CE. Then again it’s definitely slightly better than Scoregasm. Hmmm, guess I should organize an orgy then.

  2. I don’t really have a favourite, myself. Scoregasm is cheeky, bursting with ideas and slightly rough around the edges: I like that roughness, it feels indie. Waves reigns in its ambitions, focusing on a narrow but super-polished experience. I’m intending to get round to Rob Fearon’s stuff at some point, simply because reading his words is a delight.

    I don’t know why shooters bring our the sexual metaphors in me. They just do.

  3. I once played a game of tetris in my head, actually never mind, that is a story that does not need to be told.

    Excellent stuff, will pester a couple of my PC playing friends to try it out.

  4. Lovely video (though your voice could stand to be a bit louder) and write-up. I really like these tiny Let’s Play sorta things you’re putting out, they’re a nice way to see the game in action and, ‘specially in ED: Proteus’ case, quite good in their own right.

  5. @ShaunCG. Good luck, sir. I know sweaty, twitchy shooters are not everyone’s bag, but if they are yours – welcome to the party.

    @BC – I’m sure you decided it was better not to explain how you slotted your pieces into all the right places.

    @Wastrel: Welcome – and thanks! I am in limbo with my sound equipment at the moment. My quality mic for some reason started recording on the left channel only which is something I can’t fix technically when Fraps records aggregate audio. I got a headset as a stopgap but Windows keeps pushing down the sound levels it is receiving from the headset (also happened on the Bloodline Champions vid) – this was something like the fifth attempt at recording a video and I decided to call it quits. Hopefully I’ll get this sorted out soon.

    The Proteus video, incidentally, was done via handheld voice recorder to be more unobtrusive. Although the Little Harbour Master recognises it as “Electron Dance” so it’s not that stealthy…

  6. Ban this sick filth. This game reminds me of metal gear 2 sons of the liberty think its the hexagons.

  7. After playing Jamestown’s challenge modes and a fair chunk of Everyday Shooter I’m starting to think I might actually enjoy something like Waves and Scoregasm. Bullet hell shooters have scared the uh, hell, out of me ever since Ikaruga but I think Jamestown has lured me back in. HM did you ever play Warning Forever?

  8. I did. The only thing about Warning Forever is that I never felt that it was plotting against me and learning, considering that was its big feature. I just played for a while and got killed, it never quite grabbed me.

  9. Hah, yeah that’s pretty much how it went for me, but I thought I’d mention it with regards to the waves/survival aspect of it. Something I’ve been meaning to check out for a while is Captain Forever, but I’m veering off topic there…

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