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Retrowave Review

Official Score

Overall - 55%


Retrowave’s got the looks and the sounds that make the outrun aesthetic so great, but the gameplay manages to be a little too one-note for its own good.

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The 80s were a magical time, and RewindApp wants to take players back to this glorious era with their new title Retrowave. Featuring a fine blend of vaporwave aesthetics with synthwave stylings, should you get up and drive?

Retrowave Review

Retrowave is a game about cruising – nothing more, nothing less. After picking the car of your choosing (which varies by speed, handling, and brake power), one hits the endless stretch of road and rides as far as the road takes them. Points (and thereby money) can be earned by going fast, driving on the wrong side of traffic, and nearly missing other cars, but the title is meant to be more of a trance-like experience than an adrenaline rush of speed. That’s not to say players will be slowing down though – the game actually rewards you for hitting speeds greater of 100km/hr. Much like life, there is a little bit of something for everybody.

Just be warned that those endless drives end quite quickly if you bump into another car. Early on, this doesn’t seem to be that much of a problem. However, some stretches of the game are rife with nasty traffic jams, and trying to get ahead without scraping paint is an absolute pipe dream. The moment that happens, the game is over.

It’s just a shame that there’s not a ton of variety at play here. Retrowave features four different modes that vary up lanes of traffic, offer up time attacks, and make your car into a speed bomb, but it all runs together sooner rather than later. The same goes for the 12 tracks that players can choose from – although the outrun aesthetic shines brightly with stages like “Space Trip,” “Summer Chill,” and “Vaporwave,” the lack of variety in the layout of each stage means that these worlds only differ aesthetically.

To keep players going, each run earns players a bit of cash. The grind for unlockables is real – players can earn new cars (including Tesla’s very own Cybertruck), new paint jobs, new wheels, and additional mechanical improvements. It’s pretty easy to unlock the substantial stuff (especially when choosing a mode like Time Trial), but most of this content should have been unlocked from the get-go. Variety is the spice of life, and Retrowave can use an infusion of variety. There is a way to adjust the HUD, field of view, use the horn, or even use the indicators, but they feel like frivolous additions compared to the meat of the package.

On the bright side, the synthwave sounds powering this adventure are a definite plus that add to the game. Though Aries Beats, Stevia Sphere, Eva, Three Chain Links, and Nightstop might not have the same clout as Carpenter Brut or Com Truise, the music here is still solid enough to keep players positively mesmerized.

Retrowave’s got the looks and the sounds that make the outrun aesthetic so great, but the gameplay manages to be a little too one-note for its own good.

This review of Retrowave was done on the PC. The game was purchased digitally.
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Casey Scheld

Drawn to the underground side of gaming, Casey helps the lesser known heroes of video games. If you’ve never heard of it, he’s mastered it.
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