By Michael Fontanini / April 11th, 2019
Earth has fallen, and the Trident is humanity’s last surviving colony ship. It is humanity’s final hope, but unfortunately even now it is overrun with aliens. The remaining survivors must make a last stand and fight for the survival of themselves and the human race. Everything is at stake in Trident’s Wake, an unforgiving, action oriented, top-down shooter, with a bit of rogue-like mixed in. Do you have what it takes to overcome these hopeless odds?
It is important to note that Trident’s Wake is in early access as of February 21st. The trailer seems to imply that your consciousness has been transferred into the sentinel you are controlling, but even with your robotic body, you are still facing incredibly slim odds in this mission. The sentinels are not the most maneuverable machines ever, and you are heavily outnumbered. Fortunately, you can enlist the help of friends or random people online to build a team of up to four players to battle the aliens.
When I first began this review, there were only two sectors to play in, but they recently added the third sector into the game. The three sectors currently available to play in are the main industrial complex, the tech labs, and now the recently added crew quarters. Starting out, you have only one sentinel to choose from, but you can unlock a handful of additional ones. When you start a game, you can modify your sentinel’s loadout, but you’ll need to unlock additional weapons.
When starting a game, you first choose the sector you wish to play in. Other players may then join for local or online multiplayer. Once players are ready, you can start the mission, which consists of a randomly generated level. Each level contains three main objectives, ranging from collecting important items, to activating a console and defending it for a set time while it works. You have to stay within the yellow circle that appears around it until you defeat all the aliens that attack, or else it will just deactivate, meaning you’ll have to do it again. When you activate it again, another round of aliens will assault you. There are also flashing items scattered around the levels. These optional collectibles earn you Matheria, a currency which can be used to upgrade weapons.
If you are playing alone, then you can die once, and the game will respawn you at the level’s reconstruction station. If you die again, it’s game over. On the other hand, if you die in multiplayer, a teammate must go to the level’s reconstruction station and activate it to reconstruct your sentinel and get you back in the game. Your enemies come in a variety of shapes and sizes, from your small weak baddies, up to the big guys who are often completely invulnerable from the front. This is thanks to a large shield they carry, but some have a big mini gun instead.
Completing a mission will net you some experience points and the currency known as Matheria. It also earns you points toward taking back control the sector. For example, it takes 7500 points to fully take back the industrial complex sector. Depending on your performance, you’ll get some badges on the mission stats screen for things like using as little ammo as possible. These are not kept track of and have no real effect on the game, though. The game also has four modifiers you can enable (like tougher enemies and larger maps) that will give you various extra rewards depending on which ones you turn on, such as more Matheria or more XP. Completing missions also gets you some weapon parts, which can be used to upgrade a weapon to its next tier. You can also recalibrate weapons between games. This gives the selected weapon stats new random values, but it will cost you some Matheria. If you wish to reset the weapon to its original stats, it will cost you a whopping 2,000 weapon parts for some reason, and no that’s not a typo!
Failing a mission means you get nothing, not even the Matheria that you collected from flashing collectibles in the level. You also get no XP in this case, meaning you can only level up your rank by winning missions. This presents a major roadblock for struggling new players, as the game is rather unforgiving. Leveling up your rank will allow you to upgrade your weapons to higher tiers. Certain weapons and sentinels also unlock when you reach certain ranks. One of the last sentinels unlocks at rank 11, while one of the last guns unlocks at rank 12. It will take you some time to get there for sure.
The gameplay in Trident’s Wake is fairly simple, but unforgiving. You move your sentinel around in the level and check off the three major objectives. At that point, it’s time to reach the exit elevator and get the hell out! Unfortunately, when you activate it you’ll have to wait a short time for it to arrive, all the while being attacked by a bunch of aliens. Groups of aliens will also sometimes descend upon you from multiple directions when you achieve an objective. There are also lone scouts, and if they see you they will summon reinforcements immediately. You have a couple of seconds to kill them before they will do so, and a small gauge above their head shows this visually. You can also do a short distance dash, which is primarily used for dodging due to the fact you can only use it three times before you have to wait for it to recharge.
The movement feels a bit slow and clunky, and getting stuck on objects in the world is somewhat common. That’s much worse when it happens in combat, as is running out of ammo at bad moments, which is also common. This is because you constantly have to reload your gun to the point of it being bothersome. Any ammo still in your gun when you reload is also lost. You can switch to your alternate weapon when your primary runs out completely. If your sentinel has the Ammo Pack skill equipped, he can drop ammo packs on the floor on demand, which you and other players can pick up to restock your sentinel. There are currently eight skills total, including Shield Infusion, which instantly restores your shield when used. Skills of course have a recharge period, so you’ll need to use them carefully.
The music is moody and sets the tone perfectly in the game’s relatively low-light environments. The sound effects are pretty well done, too. For example, the sounds for gun fire and explosions have a nice oomph to them that makes the combat more satisfying.
Trident’s Wake is an early access, top-down shooter with a bit of rogue-like mixed in. It has a lot of potential, but it still has a long road ahead of it to get there. The fact that you get nothing on mission failure makes unsuccessful runs feel like wasted time. For a new player, the game can be a bit daunting at first until you get the hang of things. Even then, you should still expect death to be common, because the game is unforgiving after all. Earning reduced XP on mission failure could also be a toggle option, so it only affects players who want it, while leaving others happy too. Either way, gaining some reduced XP even on mission failure would help smooth that barrier out, and just make the game feel better overall. I spent about 15 hours aboard the Trident so far, but they are still adding more content. It will take you longer than that to fully take back all sectors and unlock everything, especially in the future. There is still at least one more sector and sentinel to be added to the game according to the GUI. Trident’s Wake is available for $14.99 on Steam right now, while it is still in Early Access. Can you beat the insane odds and save humanity, or will you go extinct trying?
Review copy provided by publisher.
Bacus StudiosGraffiti GamesTrident's Wake