You play blue-haired girl Sigrid Skagerak! I'll skim right over the writer's total lack of understanding about how boat anchors work, when they're used and how heavy they are in the initial cutscene, and say that the intro and hand-drawn graphic style are charming, and Sigrid moves smoothly and controls accurately.
Sigrid lives with Grandma in a lighthouse on a small island in the archipelago of Strandville, and she sends you off on your first quest to collect sparks in order to power it up. This involves finding sparks, which is easy as you're guided to them by your radar and in Sigrid's world electricity handily just hangs around the air or on the ground, and catching them with your net so they get absorbed by your battery. You're also informed that Sigrid can't swim in the ocean because it's dangerous to go more than a few feet down...
You soon discover that you have a double-jump and can twirl your net to make Sigrid practically glide, helicoptering down gradually and boosting with 'B' so she can cross huge gaps!
So anyhoo, things can't go on being so easy, and a massive wave of gloom hits the island and washes Sigrid out to sea, somehow she survives and regains consciousness on a tiny island. Here a shadow creature (that you could see within the gloom wave) helps you, giving you a unique way of crossing the sea back to the lighthouse. Now you can walk, run and even skim speedily across the sea like you're surfing by holding the 'R' trigger! You can then hold and release 'A' to do a charged jump, then hold 'A' when airborne to glide or drop back to the water to skim again. This would be a fun way to get around if the sea was flat as a pancake, but with the constant swell of the waves it's positively exhilarating!
All these new skills are soon learned as you search for sparks to power up the lighthouse and drive the gloom away. Pressing 'RB' acts like a grapple and will zoom you to certain grab points and help you scale high obstacles.
Grandma tells you the gloom wave was sent by creatures known locally as 'Dirty Paws," and she isn't content with just clearing the lighthouse and has plans to drive the gloom away completely, so you set off together in search of more sparks and people that have been captured and enshrouded by the gloom. But who or what is this shadowy figure that has transformed your life?
Grandma is a hard taskmaster and has plenty of missions for you. You come across a host of characters (including Mr. Baine, who'll sell you new outfits, hats and hair colours... and also lambast you with his collection of terrible "Dad" jokes). Various gloom creatures are the enemy, but pose little threat as Sigrid is a veritable ninja with her net and just a few swipes take out the small ones and the larger ones can be easily defeated by repeatedly double-jumping and then pressing 'Y' to perform a powerful 'slam' attack. The exploration and combat is fluid and fun, and the only real challenge comes when you reach the final boss battle–which is pretty easy by anyone's standards.
Ok, so now for the bad news. At times when turning Wavetale displays bad horizontal tearing, and I and most gamers would rather have an occasional frame rate drop than 60fps and tearing. Sadly there's no option to turn V-sync on either. We also had Wavetale lock up on a couple of occasions, but this could be down to the Series X's 'Quick Resume' feature, so I'm not going to condemn it for that.
The bottom line is that Wavetale is fun and easy to play. It only took me 4 hours-ish to do all the main story quests but several side quests and 4 surfing challenges (supplied by a character called Asta) make it hard to master. It has endearing characters and an imaginative, engaging story with a pseudo environmental message. It's priced at £24.99, which seems about right, but represents decent value for a fun game that unlike so many of late, will keep you coming back for more–if only to hear Sigrid use the word 'gloom' as an amusing makeshift expletive, and come out with phrases such as "Gloom You!"