The top-down action-shoot’em up genre has found some exceptional gems in the past several years. Trident’s Wake by Bacus Studios means to capitalize on the premise of providing a title similar to other hits of the genre, with its own alien invasion scenario. Will Trident’s Wake differentiate itself enough from the competition to stand out, or will it be left in the wake of the other, more established titles that have defined the genre thus far? All of this is answered in our Trident’s Wake Review.
In Trident’s Wake, you play as an ECHO, which is essentially a digital soul that inhabits a robotic shell directed by your human consciousness. For the most part, knowing how you inhabit the Sentinels, your robotic chassis, doesn’t really matter. The Trident is the last human colony ship that has been infiltrated by aliens, and you are charged, simply, with protecting it, sector by sector. The premise is fairly hard to grasp, actually, as there are no story elements in the game. Nothing is easily explained to you. You predominantly load in to a menu with several options, and your main go-to when you’re ready for action is a lobby screen where you can either select an existing game, host a game, and even play in couch co-op. Herein lies the first major issue I encountered. Whether I attempted to find an existing game, or chose the automatic matchmaking option, I was left for hours without finding a single team to play with.
In a game that heavily relies on team play to complete missions, it becomes extremely repetitive to run similar missions repeatedly without the thrill of other players to keep me invested. This game is definitely a title you want to play with other players, and despite trying multiple times to find other players, I never found a single game, nor did anyone join any of my games, despite my party always being set as public. This was my first major disappointment. My second disappointment factored in once I attempted to navigate the UI with a controller. While the game does have controller support, it was impossible to access all menus or navigate to all of the options that I wanted to with a controller. Swapping back and forth between mouse and keyboard and my controller only exasperated the issue, sticking me in menus at times that I could only exit with a controller.
As you continue through the sectors, complete missions, and level up, new weapons, as well as special abilities and chassis, unlock for you. Some unlocks require you to complete an entire sector, which essentially means you have to play a certain type of stage repeatedly until you earn enough points for the sector to be “cleared”. You also have the options to upgrade and recalibrate weapons which is important if you really want to get the most out of your specific play style. Want more damage? Recalibrate for that. Do you want a greater magazine size? You can do that too. Just make sure you have enough credits to do so, and the patience to reroll until you get what you want.
As with other similar top-down shooters in the genre, you are limited in your resources. Bacus has thrown players a bone by allowing your special skills to recharge over time. This includes repair and ammunition stations. Once you realize this, though, the game loses a lot of its challenge solo, as you are no longer worried about running out of ammunition for your most powerful weapons. Primarily because most of the enemies are repetitive, the missions all have similar objectives, and the abilities you have access to at any given time are finite, boiling each mission down to its basics and completing them has a steep difficulty decline once you are privy to what needs to be done.
Still, Trident’s Wake does a great job at delivering a solid top-down shooter experience. The gameplay is strong, and the level designs are somewhat randomized so each playthrough, even in the same sector can throw some surprises your way. The major issue I had, wasn’t in the repetitiveness of gameplay, it was largely due to the lack of other players, or even AI controlled players that would have given each mission some much-needed diversity. Bacus created a strong top-down experience that is marred by the fact that it’s a solemn and lonely experience in a title that was meant to be everything but. For fans of the top-down action-shooter brand, take heed of our Trident’s Wake review, and make sure that if you sign up to take charge of a sentinel, that you already have a team of friends ready, or else it will be a very destitute experience.Trident’s Wake is available on Steam now.