Critical Wave is a new dual-stick shooter that offers intense action with an obvious, but well implemented Geometry Wars influence. Navigate your ship with the left virtual d-pad while controlling your firing with the right, blasting all manner of geometric shapes into oblivion. There is only a single survival-style game mode (with two difficulty settings), in which you must last as long as possible, progressing through the stage after stage of polygon attacks. The gameplay is addictive and you will quickly find yourself in that all to familiar “one more try” timeloop.
The game is packed with features including a huge variety of enemies, bosses that keep growing with each subsequent level, and loads of upgrades and powerups. Additionally, Critical Wave has some really neat and more subtle features like a live leaderboard that lets you see how you are stacking up against the competition (in real time) and an auto pause feature when you let go of both virtual d-pads.
The graphics are simply stunning, with everything represented by geometric shapes of all shapes and sizes, giving the game nice stylized look, highlighted by bright colors and crisp, clean lines, though the colors are a bit less (for the lack of a better word) “glowing” when compared to games like the geoDefense series, with their over-saturated neon pinks, greens and blues. When a boss appears, you will see a little arrow on the screen pointing to the off-screen boss, so you’ll know how to navigate to him. The screen also gets a little darker, with a spotlight highlighting the boss and creating a really cool lighting effect. A steady techno beat floods your ears and helps build the ambiance and tension.
Our biggest single complaint is that we found the subtle system used to display your current health a bit too confusing for our liking. We’d love to see a more traditional and easier to distinguish/constantly visible health meter. If possible, we’d also really like to see some additional game modes other than just the survival mode. We could easily see either a blitz mode and adventure mode being a lot of fun in this polygon rich environment that Grannies Games has created.
There is quite a lot to love about Critical Wave, but some players may find the abstractness of game’s graphics a tad confusing at first. This style is definitely not for everyone, but fans of Geometry Wars, Geo Defense and Geo Defense Storm will love the retro feel of the game. Critical Wave is a well-crafted, fast-paced and challenging dual-stick shooter. The more we play, the more of it’s nuances we discover and the more we really love this game. Critical Wave’s regular price is $2.99, but it is currently on sale for $0.99 through the weekend. At that price, you really can’t go wrong with Critical Wave, which is most certainly destined to become a classic on the iPhone platform.