“Happy lyrics should always be paired with a minor key and vice versa!” – one of the invited teachers at my music school said it once with certainty, arguing that you need to have a bit of melancholy to be interesting.
Now, writing a video game script may not be the same as writing a blockbuster, but those words still come back to me from time to time, and they certainly came up while working on wave. Because while it may not be a universal truth, the combination of carefree and heavy can create something special. More importantly, it helps us create something relative.
I remember when my close friend’s dad died. It was sudden and unexpected and he had to wait until the next day to take the train north to the rest of the family. I kept him company for the night and we spent the evening alternating between crying and remembering his dad and laughing at the overly intense knife commercials on TV. People have always used humor to get by, and it seemed natural for us to follow that path wave, too.
at its base, wave touches on important topics: the loss of a daughter and mother, a grandmother who buryes sadness with her work, and a flooded city that struggles with the aftermath of war. And in the midst of it all is Sigrid, a lonely teenager who has never known a life other than this – until an old enemy returns and changes everything. But rather than sticking hard to the dark aspects of Sigrid’s experience, we often chose to set them aside in favor of Grandma making fun of bananas or Sigrid reminiscing about a time when she kept an eel for a pet. Their fears and sorrows always exist in the periphery, but rarely take over completely.
There were various reasons to go this route, and one of them was the gameplay. wave it’s about movement. Much of the game’s dialogue takes place while surfing the waves of Strandville, and the complicated conversation about your involvement in a war of the past just doesn’t make sense when the player joyfully leaps into the air or makes a daring dive below the water’s surface. We had to find a way to convey those feelings and stories without interfering with the player’s actions.
But even beyond the more technical reasons, I find this method a helpful tool for getting to grips with heavy topics. We really wanted to tell a story that gave hope. wave was created mainly during a raging pandemic and perhaps our own need for warmth and optimism influenced our work. A crisis can tear people apart, but it can also bring us closer together in unexpected ways, like when Sigrid realizes that… well, I leave it up to you to play the game and see how things turn out.
Explore the open sea and the crumbling archipelago of Strandville in Wavetale, a story-driven action-adventure where you meet weary fishermen, mysterious hermits and maybe a pirate or two. Navigate calm waters and choppy waves as Sigrid, a young girl who befriends a mysterious shadow that gives her the power to walk on water. Dash through the waves, swing from the rooftops with nets and defeat monstrous enemies to save the inhabitants of the islands. And all with a little help from the shadows downstairs – and your grumpy grandma.