After Wave: Downfall

Do you hate wildlife? Do you especially hate river fish that throw purple orbs, axes, and bombs at you? Well then, do I have the game for you! It’s called G-Dar… wait, that’s the wrong game. It’s called After Wave: Downfall, which I played on Nintendo Switch.

Released on August 3, 2022, for Switch, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, After Wave: Downfall is a sort of rail-shooter-slash-bullet-hell game. You ride in a little boat shooting rockets and bullets (and flames?), while getting slammed with wave “After Wave” (see what I did there?) of fish, beavers, and flying robots.

The game has an old-style arcade game feel, with you soaring down the river on a forward-moving track while armies of incredibly angry-looking fish launch attacks at you. At the end of each stage is a multi-phase boss fight with different attacks to try to throw you off.

After Wave: Downfall

The story is as simple as it gets. Several meteors land in the woods and somehow infect the animals so they become violent. It’s your job to kill everything you can in an attempt to destroy the meteors and restore calm to the woodland creatures that you just slaughtered thousands of.

The gameplay is a bit janky. Some of the attack angles are incredibly difficult to avoid, and sometimes it’s tricky to even see them happening in the first place underneath all the other things that are coming at you.

After each boss, you’ll collect a glowing stone resource that can be used to upgrade either the base for all the characters, or the individual abilities of each. I spent quite a bit of time grinding the first section to level up my characters for the boss fights.

After Wave: Downfall

The game is split into three difficulties. Easy is four chapters long, medium is seven, and hard is ten. In higher difficulties, there are larger amounts of enemies, and the bosses will often have armor and new abilities. There is also an arcade mode for point collecting, as well as a practice mode. And then there’s what the game calls “Extra Mode,” which includes a rafting minigame where you can’t attack and must dodge everything for as long as possible; “Collect,” where you collect pearls; “Beat The Score” (self-explanatory); and “Defense,” where you try to kill everything without letting anything slip past you. There are achievements to unlock while playing, but getting those achievements doesn’t benefit you in any tangible way.

There is quite a bit of content here, and the game isn’t bad per se; it’s just solidly okay. The controls are a bit slippery, but there are movement options in-game where you can use the left trigger to move slowly, or the right trigger to boost your speed a bit.

The graphics are fine enough, feeling more like something I would have played on the PSX than something modern. It’s definitely something to play for maybe 30 minutes to kill some time here and there as opposed to a long-term experience. I could see this being a fairly fun game to play with friends, where you switch off between rounds.

Now, at the beginning of this article I half-mentioned a game called G-Darius, an actual PSX game that I played a lot as a kid. It’s a space-shooter, bullet-hell game where, instead of a boat, you fly a ship, but all the major enemies and bosses are mechanical fish. The games don’t necessarily play the same, or even exist in the same space, but after playing After Wave: Downfall, I really wanted to break out G-Darius to play something that runs even smoother and has a much more impressive soundtrack (in my opinion).

After Wave: Downfall

The developer is 7 Raven Studios, with offices in New York and Phuket, Thailand. They’ve been releasing games for the last 16 years on all sorts of consoles, going all the way back to the Game Boy Advance — and speaking of the Game Boy Advance, this game would probably feel right at home in that era.

Overall, After Wave: Downfall is not a bad game, but it isn’t great either. It is just exceptionally okay. It is currently available for $14.99 on the Nintendo Switch eShop, which honestly is a reasonable price. If you hate fish a lot and want to kill a few hours destroying them, then I think its worth a purchase; just don’t expect to get lost in a deep story or complex mechanics.

Disclaimer: I was given a review code for After Wave: Downfall on Nintendo Switch, but the opinions expressed in this article are my own.

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