Quick Fire Review: Retrowave



Well, isn’t this a coincidence and a half? Retrowave Gaming reviewing a game called Retrowave. I stumbled across this game upon publishing the site. I went to see if the site was appearing in Google searches and this game popped up at the top of my results. I thought to myself: “Well, I’ve gotta review it now. It’d be a missed opportunity otherwise.”

This is also the first in a series (?) of reviews which will be shorter than the full length reviews I have done in the past (a la Judgment and Silent Hill 2) but still, hopefully, provide a decent insight into the game.

So what is Retrowave? Retrowave is an endless driving indie title with an 80’s retrowave aesthetic (Just the kind I like). The game is currently (at the time of writing) £1.69 on Steam and still marked as Early Access. I picked up the game during the Steam Summer Sale for £1.26. The game was developed and published by RewindApp who have published a number of small minigames to the Steam marketplace.

The game does not have a single player story nor any multiplayer options. However, I don’t see the intention for the game to be expanded much more than it already is. The intention seemed to be to make a small price casual minigame.

The gameplay is pleasing, with snappy responsive controls to allow for quick manoeuvres and close crashes with the NPC obstacles cars throughout the track. The game currently features three different gamemodes, one of which is technically two with one change made. The first gamemode is 1 Way/2 Way. This is the standard endless runner/driving game mode where you try to drive as far as you can before crashing to achieve your high score. The 1 Way mode denotes the direction of the obstacle cars; all the cars will be going the same way as you and there is no oncoming traffic. The 2 Way mode is where the next level of challenge is applied. The left half of the track will have oncoming traffic for you to avoid. Which will of course lead to faster obstacles and more risk.

The second distinctive game mode is time trials. Where you have an allotted amount of time and try to get as far as possible in that time. This game mode only features 1 way traffic.

The third game mode is the bomb run mode, where you take control of a lorry with a bomb attached to it. The bomb has a life meter which decreases with collisions and if you are travelling too slowly. Once the meter drains the bomb explodes and the run is over.

I find that the level of challenge on show is suitable for the game of its type. However, after a certain point the challenge seems to stop and doesn’t continuously ramp up. For instance, one of the earlier example of a successful endless runner was Temple Run. Within Temple Run, the game would increase the challenge over distance; with an ever-increasing speed, quicker succession of turns and more frequent obstacles. Whereas in Retrowave, you are able to control the speed of the car, the frequency of obstacle cars does not increase and the track is infinitely straight, thus not allowing for prevalent dangers to be ramped up. As a result, I found that once at top speed, I just had to avoid the cars forever. The only way I could mess up was if my attention dropped for a second or two and I clipped one of the cars.

The bomb run mode does add a different challenge in the first few runs as the truck controls different to the cars and you cannot slow down, but once you get a feel for the controls of the truck the same lack of challenge arises as before.

Perhaps, as the game progresses, progressive difficulty could be implemented to add a sense of real challenge to the game.

The visuals and the audio of the game are the most alluring draws to the game. Boasting a vivid and aesthetically appeasing retrowave theme with lots of deep purples, blues, greens, pinks and oranges. The game really nails the 80’s retro aesthetic its aiming for. One of the tracks also features a vaporwave theme with the iconography associated with that aesthetic such as Arizona Iced Tea, Windows XP and MS paint, with the bright pink and light blue accoutrements that follow the vaporwave style. All of these themes are overlaid with the VHS tape lines, tracking bar and static effects commonly associated with retrowave themes.

The soundtrack comprises of a number of tracks from 19 different artists. The music really steals the show and comprehensively fills out the intended retrowave themes. The soundtrack really does lend itself well to the desired aesthetic. And coupled with the above visuals, comprise the parts of the game I enjoy the most.

Retrowave, in summary, is a pretty basic infinite runner/driver with decent gameplay. However, the lack of any real challenge does hinder the experience somewhat. Scaling difficulty would be appreciated and massively improve player enjoyment. The visuals and soundtrack are the real draw to the game. Fully establishing the retrowave aesthetic,the visuals and audio are what led me to enjoy the game more than the gameplay warranted.