The games industry has entered a tense period of existence, with all the trash talk, petition-signing and next-gen jitters compounding into a nice, industry-wide hemiplegic migraine. We need something to soothe our psyches without boring our minds, a game that straddles the boundaries of "peaceful" and "challenging." That game just might be Waveform.
Waveform offers a polished, pretty glimpse into the life of a light wave as it travels from Pluto to the sun, dodging dark matter and collecting light particles along the way. Players control the sine wave itself, straightening, elongating and bunching it up to guide the piece of light into the path of delicious particles, without crashing into any space trash.
The endearing pomf pomf pomf of consumed light particles satisfies the senses like a far-away fireworks show, and the entire experience is ridiculously calming -- until the Singularity appears.
Waveform isn't a difficult game to play, which adds to its calming effect, but it is a ridiculously hard game to play perfectly, which makes it a true challenge. The mechanics are run solely through the mouse, clicking and dragging to manipulate the sine wave's height, length and number of oscillations.
For such a simple, sedentary game to control, it was strange that running through Waveform inexplicably reminded me of playing Dance Dance Revolution. There were moments the wave and I were intrinsically connected, forming perfectly to the path I intended and popping every light particle on the screen in rhythmic harmony: This was a true groove.
And then there were times that my hand belonged to a half-dyslexic, legally blind 2-year-old who had never touched a mouse in her life, jerking the wave directly into the path of the bad explosive bits while gracefully dodging every single light particle I wanted to hit. This demonic possession usually occurred when obstacles such as the Singularity -- a giant ball intent on destroying every particle of light in the galaxy as it chases you -- or dark-matter mazes appeared on the screen, and it was frustrating every time, but in a way that makes me want to play those levels again and again.
There are around 100 levels in Waveform, and each planet itself has a randomly generated Endless Mode. Scores for all of these levels are recorded on an online leaderboard, which means even if it seems impossible to get a perfect score on any level, you can still satiate your obsession a little by comparing your score to that of other, less obsessive players.
Waveform launched on Steam on March 20, and developer Eden Industries plans on releasing a free DLC pack for current owners, called the Planet Pack, as a thank you for early buyers. The Planet Pack will include new levels, a new object to interact with and the Deep Space mode.
Not that I personally need more things to nitpick into submission, but I could definitely use some more of those melodic, relaxing levels, which I'm looking forward to while perfecting the rest of Waveform.
Waveform is available for $6.99 on PC via Steam.