Wave Run

words manifested by: AJ Johnson

A game by Jamie Rollo Games for PC and Mac, originally released in 2017.
Wave Run is a game centered around speedrunning, and is meant to be completed in a single sitting. You control some sort of odd critter in a scuba suit who has a water tank strapped to his back, not unlike a certain vacationing plumber. This water tank can be used as a jetpack to boost up to high platforms, or as a speed booster when used horizontally. The goal is to make it from one checkpoint to the next as quickly as possible, and the entire game can be completed in under 10 minutes.

When the game begins, you are dropped into a cave system and given some space to test out the controls. At the start, you have a high floaty jump and the ability to wall slide and wall jump. The starting room also has a water pipe near the ceiling, but its use is not apparent on your first playthrough. On the right side of the room is a checkpoint, and running past it begins the game’s timer.

From here forward, your progress between checkpoints is timed, and you are rewarded with a gem for reaching the next checkpoint as quickly as possible, with dull gems awarded for completion, yellow gems for decent speed, and red gems for only the speediest of runs. Segment completion times are noted as you pass checkpoints, and your gem count is tallied on the right side of the screen.

Once you’ve cleared a couple of rooms, you will find yourself falling down into a pool of water, which fills the water tank on your back, as indicated by a meter on the left side of the screen. Once filled, pressing the JUMP button again in midair causes you to jet upward, while pressing the BOOST button allows you to boost horizontally. Balancing these two controls – and taking opportunities to refill your water pack – is key to making it through levels quickly.

Jetting along the ground lets you move very quickly but also uses up water, which may be refilled by dropping into a pool or by touching a water pipe. Boosting along a sloped surface allows you to fling yourself into the air and glide between rows of spikes, or boost up a wall to perform a well-timed wall jump.

Finesse is key, as you can’t boost horizontally and vertically at the same time, and sustained boosting is likely to send you into a wall of spikes, at least until you become accustomed to the level layouts and become a jet-boosting pro. The speed-based rewards and short overall completion time encourage players to take on the entire game from scratch to beat their old times.

Levels are laden with spikes as the primary obstacle, and touching them kills you instantly, sending you quickly back to the most recent checkpoint. You have infinite lives, and your water pack is refilled upon respawning.

There are three themed areas in the cave system, as denoted by different color schemes, and the difficulty rises steadily. At the end of each section is a summary screen showing your lap time and the number of colored gems collected.

Each of the three areas also features a “shortcut” – which are a bit difficult to spot (PROTIP: Look for misplaced spikes) – but they are actually more difficult to complete than standard levels. These challenges force you through tight corridors that are covered in spikes, and one of them sees you boosting up long narrow shafts, depleting most of your water along the way.

Wave Run was developed by Jamie Rollo Games, which is based in Sydney, Australia, with music composed by Jared Hahn. The game was originally developed for Global Game Jam 2017, and was further expanded into its final freeware release. Jamie has developed a number of smaller titles leading up to a more ambitious grapple-based game, Silver Grapple, which was developed over the span of five years.