What is Waves?

Waves is a dual-stick shooter with beautifully immersive visuals and a collection of very addictive game modes. To put it simply, it’s an arcade style game where you shoot things. I hate to compare it to an existing success, but if you love Geometry Wars, you’ll adore Waves. Before I get into a brief review and show a few screen shots, here’s the developer’s site: Squid In A Box, and here’s where you can buy it on Steam (if you prefer that ecosystem).

Official Trailer:

The mini review

At a glance, Waves seems like your typical shoot-em-up where the goal is to kill all the enemies. This would be a good description on the surface, but there are a few “rules” that make this challenging. I think that these restrictions are where the game shines and the difficulty (on the road to mastering the game) sort of begins to accelerate rapidly! The visuals are stunning and the music from artists on the 8bit collective is very fitting and addictive.

Here are some of the “rules” that set Waves apart from other shooters I’ve played:

  • You can slow down time with a buffer of saved “time” and kills during that period are double the score. The buffer can also be used to avoid enemies when they try to box you in.
  • You can use a bomb to destroy all the enemies in the region around you, however you don’t get to keep these bombs. You may only detonate one within a few seconds of acquiring it and you must kill a slew of enemies in rapid succession to get one.
  • When you level up, you don’t just get the higher level, you have to pick it up. The “Level Up” is displayed as a bright blue pad that you need to roll over (your character is a sphere complete with inertial physics) in order to get it. So you need to earn your level up twice as the pad may appear underneath enemies or in a dangerous zone of the battlefield.
  • When you level up, the enemies become more difficult to defeat. Nothing happens to your attack strength. This is contrary to many games (wherein you become more bad-ass and the enemies become tougher), but it works for Waves as the game is more about technique than just killing everything.

The Game Modes (My favorite is Bombing Run):

There are a few different game modes and they all have something unique to offer. Bombing run is probably my favorite. It’s slightly similar to “Pacifism” in Geometry Wars, but as with all things in Waves – there’s a twist.

First of all, you can’t shoot; there is no primary weapon. You may still slow down time for brief moments and move freely on the field. The difference is that bomb pads appear on the field. You roll over a pad to pick one up – then roll over a differently colored pad to detonate one. When you roll over an “armed” pad, a timer starts ticking. If the timer runs out before you roll over a “detonate” pad, you die. Think of it as picking up a just-armed grenade and then having to run it over to a target zone. It’s a lot of fun!

Go buy the game!


Here are some screen shots from the game (including some witty copy on the menus and score screens)