Wavecade is an indie sci-fi shoot em up that has one very unique trick up its sleeve. You can control the speed of the waves of enemies coming towards you. By moving up and down the screen your bullets, your enemies and their fire all speed up or slow down along with the music. It’s a simple twist but it works really well.
Wavecade is arcade through and through and everything is geared towards getting the highest score. As enemies attack you in waves (and all enemies except bosses are cube blocks) you can slow the level down and make every shot count as precision is a score multiplier. However, as you progress through the waves, the slowest speed you can reduce to increases, so not only do you have more enemies to clear, you’ll need to start doing it faster. Wavecade isn’t immediately hard out of the box but its one of those games that immediately punishes you if you aren’t paying attention or get a bit sloppy. You can often accidently fly into slow bullets or reverse into enemies and you’ll get just as many game overs from that than the actual battles coming at you.
Backing all this arcade action is a neon soaked graphical style and a synthwave soundtrack that nails the whole aesthetic. It just works beautifully and if you want to have a friend join you then co-op is available too. The other hidden excellence of the game is just how customisable the game is. You can decide on powerups, time or level limits, initial speeds or fixed speeds. Then once your mode is set up, you’ll have a specific leaderboard for it so its designed for speedrunners and high score challenges between friends and online. It was this that kept me coming back over and over as I found myself vying for top position on leaderboard variants. It is quite addicitve.
I did run into a couple of bugs that will hopefully be ironed out where waves wouldn’t spawn or the “next wave” bubble to shoot didn’t spawn either. That aside, Wavecade is a great twist on old school shoot em ups that gives time manipulation a new direction. Fun, easy to dip in and out of and even better if a few mates want to battle the leaderboards with you.
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