PEGBRJE: WaveCrash!! and Sun Dogs
Happy Holidays, we start again.
WaveCrash!! is a multiplayer arcade action game created by Flyover Games, an indie dev team based out of the United States. Players will be working against each other in a bizarre battle of match-3 and Tetris, all in the name of sending blocks flying at the other’s face.
In this high octane block-scapade, players will select from many fighters and pit them against each other for ultimate board control. The goal is to push the middle line separating the players to the opponent’s edge, slowly squeezing them out until they are left with only three rows. The only way the line moves, however, is my hitting the opponent with blocks.
But how exactly is this done? That Match-3/Tetris analogy comes in to play here. All the squares can be switched around. When three or more of a certain colour are grouped together, players can stand on one of them and ‘fire’ them at the opponent. Unfortunately they stay in their rows, but never fear. There is still a boon for sending blocks over. If they reach the end of the board, the blocks will become grey and impassible. This means the opponent cannot manipulate anything under them nor move through them. Only by performing actions of their own will the blocks begin to dissipate. But even then it’s dangerous as players can stack grey blocks on each other by sending numerous blocks in the same row. Getting hit will cause all grey blocks to disperse, but that’s a heavy toll to pay for making the board easier to work with.
This is a unique take on the Match-3 genre, adding a sense of danger to the simple movement of the board as each action requires the player’s avatar to visit and risk being attacked by blocks. Switching has the same dangers, as players can only switch two blocks at once by selecting one, then another anywhere on the board. If one of them is covered in the process, it can no longer be switched.
There is a benefit bigger than just creating larger blocks, however. If players can chain six or more of a certain colour, a special attack will occur. Each avatar players select has a colour associated with it, which is dubbed its special colour. Instead of sending out the pattern that the board has, a six+ pattern of this colour will launch an attack of a different pattern, coloured blue to show just how unique it is. This could be like the ‘brooding nerd’ and his massive wall attack, or the young prodigy and her bizarre delayed attack on the majority of the rows. It’s all fun and games until a massive attack from the green flaming man wipes everyone out. Thankfully there is a counter to this, and it’s hidden in the name. When two blocks collide, they ‘crash’ and nullify each other, with the blue special attacks requiring two blocks. This means that instead of dodging, players can attack quickly to save themselves, and possibly send some attacks back at the same time.
I wasn’t expecting to enjoy WaveCrash!! as much as I did, yet I keep playing it over and over. It has the chaotic charm of a party fighting game mixed with the strategy of a block matching and puzzle game. There’s so much to uncover from a game that looks relatively simple, from the Hype meter allowing for extra speed to the passives that each avatar has that can alter how they approach the game. There are multiple game modes to explore, and even unlockables to collect as you play. It’ll have you on the edge of your seat just trying to focus on your own side of the board, only to see massive amounts of squares heading your way to some pretty hype tunes. If you wanted something with which to fight your friends without actually ‘fighting’ them, try this one out.
Sun Dogs is a strange exploratory adventure created by Royal Polygon, a developer based out of Austria. Players are in a futuristic society where we have finally transcended the need for bodies and flesh. Our consciousnesses can now traverse throughout the solar system and experience the stars. What happens, then, when we no longer have a grasp on the mortal issues we currently face?
Sun Dogs takes players on a journey through space with no true ‘goal’. As transhumans, there is no need for missions and goals for our lives, so the game will not give players something so explicit outside of updating the mission board if one should find something interesting. Since time is no longer an issue in the lives of mortals — our personalities can be uploaded in case of death — traveling for days on end between different planets and satellites is of little consequence. As such, players will attempt to discover exactly what they want to do as they explore, collecting items that can be used as tools, skill sets for their personality matrices, and body modifications to ensure that they are as fit as ever. All of these items are useful in various ways, as during explorations of regions they may ‘proc’ certain events in to occurring, both good and dangerous.
While this all sounds a tad vague, that is precisely what makes Sun Dogs so compelling. There really isn’t any direction to go. Sun Dogs asks the player to understand our mortality and what the future of transhumanism could be like, especially when viewing from the lens of a civilization that can traverse space freely. Without a fear of ‘death’ there’s no urgency within the game at all. Instead there is a detachment from every exciting finding as if we can no longer muster joy or wonder. We can only find ourselves bemused and curious. Players will have a mission or two at the beginning, but they are more of a gateway to help the player understand the need to continuously explore. Planets can contain wondrous things, yet they are boiled down to simple phrases worded by one who wishes to only observe and understand, and perhaps acquire a new upgrade or item.
Sun Dogs is strange. It doesn’t have anything compelling it forward in order for players to have this sense of progression and achievement in their work. Yet at the same time, this complete lack of progress is what pushes the game forward and is central to its thematic atmosphere. You don’t have to do anything if you do not want to, yet you can’t help but wonder what might be on that next planet, what strange occurrence you might find, or what exactly the umbrella will actually be used for.
It’s an open world that can lead to death almost instantly. But as we’ve established there is no real ‘death’ anymore; only minor setbacks to progress and exploration. If you like titles that are more in the avant garde realm of excitement and curiosity, this might be a good title to dive in to and see how far you can get before you lose everything, or go insane trying.
Links to the future
Head-to-head puzzle brawling action! Match blocks to send waves at your opponent! Dodge their waves or crash them…