If you live near a major river in America, there’s a pretty big chance you’ve had the opportunity to tour a number of different battleships that do tours around the country. It’s hard to fathom the size of some of these vessels and the number of weapons and other gear that crowd the decks. The inner workings of some of these ships are nothing short of amazing and a technological marvel.
There have been many games that attempt to recreate the majesty of naval warfare, with varying results over the last few decades. It’s hard to make an exciting game based on the water while still staying true to the mechanics of being at sea. In Waves of Steel, players are set loose in a variety of open waters, encouraged to test their own creativity with one of the most comprehensive shipbuilders in a while.
The game is far from perfect, but there’s a lot of heart even if it definitely feels like it’s trying a lot of things at once. Waves of Steel will likely resonate with a specific type of player, with others becoming disinterested within the first hours of playing the game.
The entire narrative is a tutorial, even if there’s strong representation
If you’re into the kind of action-war movies that sometimes grace cable TV, you’ll likely have a much easier time following the story in this game. It’s delivered with a set of wonderful drawings of characters and environments that feel very diverse, but it suffers in that it feels like one long tutorial meant to introduce players to the game.
This isn’t always the worst thing in the world, but the story and themes never really picked up in a way that felt worth pursuing. While the missions can serve as introductions to the mechanics, they also need to be actually engaging in their gameplay as well. The variety of weapons and shipbuilding tutorials is nice, but when you’re having to do a new one after every mission it’s easy to forget what the point was.
The actual battles for these missions do feel like they get a little more intense after a couple of the early missions, which can pose a challenge to those who are focused on beating the game. That being said, using the options to customize your ship can usually help you overcome whatever obstacles the game puts in your way.
You don’t even have to worry about limitations, as the game allows the player to unlock all the building parts and break the mass limit with two clicks of the mouse. This gives the player an achievement and lets them have complete control over their ships. Because of this, getting through the campaign can be a breeze if you build a ship that’s OP enough.
Building ships and running simulations are the treasure here
The overall gameplay of Waves of Steel is fairly simple, with players controlling a ship that can be filled to the brim with as many weapons as you can fit. This is really fun for a little while, seeing what combinations you can fit and entering battles with the most advanced ship you can. If you’re skilled enough, you can even build ships that do flip through the air into enemies.
There are a lot of combinations for the kinds of ships that players can build and that is definitely one of the highlights of the game. It’s really fun to make something really overpowered and then go into the story missions only to devastate any opposing forces. This does make the story even more boring though, as levels can be over in a matter of minutes.
Running simulations through the game’s free-play mode also has plenty of potential for keeping players coming back to the game, especially when used with the shipbuilder. You can make any kind of ship you want before setting up your own experiment to see how your boats will fare against any number of threats ranging from submarines and boats to planes.
The limits of the free-play mode are really only as limited as your PC can run, with a certain amount of ships likely being enough to tank the performance of your computer. While you can have some fun, this dip in performance seems to be severe and occurs with fewer ships spawned than you’d probably expect. Still, it can be fun in testing scenarios or experiment with different types of ships.
The Final Word
It feels like Waves of Steel wants to accomplish a lot with its wartime story and comprehensive shipbuilder. Unfortunately, the actual battle gameplay feels very simple and can be overcome pretty easily by just overclocking your ships. While the game seems to be getting positive reviews from players who love this genre, it’s unlikely to become a favorite among the general gaming audience.
Try Hard Guides was provided with a PC review copy of this game. Find more detailed looks at popular and upcoming titles in the Game Reviews section of our website! Waves of Steel can be purchased on Steam.