I’m a big fan of shoot ‘em ups having played dozens of them in my life so I’m always down to try new ones out. The latest one I got my hands on is After Wave: Downfall from developer 7 Raven Studios who also recently released Dyna Bomb 2 which I reviewed. It has a pleasant cartoon look to it but is the shoot ‘em up mechanics up to par to make it worth checking out for fans of the genre?
When it comes to story there isn’t much of one here as the game gives you a basic setup and sends you on your way. Deathrix has invaded the world and released a meteorite that has caused a massive flood. You now have to pilot your marine craft to fight back and save the world. The game offers up six different pilots to play as with half available from the get-go and the other half needing to be unlocked. You have the choice to play solo or with a friend in local co-op in all three modes which include the story mode, arcade mode, and practice mode.
Gameplay in this shoot ‘em up is presented in a 3D vertical format where enemies and obstacles will approach you from in front. You’ll have to steer your boat craft through the water while dodging the obstacles, the enemy fire, and returning fire yourself as you try to survive every level and make it to the boss fight. The amount of levels you play through is interesting in that the team makes you start out on easy difficulty which only consists of a few levels. Once you beat that you can then play medium which unlocks a few more levels and once you beat that you unlock hard which unlocks the rest of the levels. It’s an interesting decision for sure but at least you should have a firm grasp on the gameplay by the time you’re tackling the higher difficulties. The game itself is pretty easy to control as the left stick will move you while X is used to fire. Using the L2 and R2 buttons allow you to slow down or speed up your movement while the other shoulder buttons unleash your skills.
Some shoot ‘em ups can be a bit intimidating as some players simply can’t keep up with all the firepower and enemies that can end up on-screen. After Wave is challenging and can get a bit busy at times but not to the extreme levels that I’ve seen in some other games in the genre. To help yourself with the barrage of fire you can come under you can upgrade your pilots with crystals that you collect in each level. These unlock the other characters, allow you to upgrade your skill attacks, and let you upgrade various other things like your energy and bombs.
What isn’t so great about the game is the visual presentation. It has a cartoon flair to it and the enemies all being marine like stuff is a nice touch but it just looks a bit bland honestly. The game also has quite a few translation errors that you’ll notice if you pay any attention to what little story there is here. The music and sound effects were OK but again nothing really that stood out. Trophy hunters are going to feast on this one though as it has 13 trophies including a very quick and easy Platinum. How easy you ask? Well so easy that you can probably earn them all by the time you beat the first stage.
After Wave: Downfall doesn’t do anything to stand out as a shoot ‘em up but it can still provide some fun, frantic action for fans. I would wait for a sale personally as I think that for a bit of a lower price you’ll be getting a pretty decent game here with some fun modes that you can play alone or with a friend.
*After Wave: Downfall is available now on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch. PlayStation 4 version reviewed. Review copy provided by the publisher for this review.