Edinburgh’s Lucky Frame continues to forge an original path through the untamed wilds of the App Store, melding traditional game mechanics with procedurally generated music. If Wave Trip feels a little more conventional than previous efforts Pugs Luv Beats and Bad Hotel, that’s perhaps because it’s the most convincing marriage of the two ideas the studio has managed to date.
As with Bad Hotel, it feels at once familiar yet alien. Your geometric craft climbs and dives in a manner akin to Tiny Wings or Whale Trail, while the sounds you collect on your horizontal journey add layers to a shifting soundtrack, much as in Sound Shapes, which the studio acknowledges was an influence. Yet it is more challenging and esoteric than both: the soundscapes you gradually construct feel more like short, experimental sketches, while a single collision with the fast-moving enemies populating each stage resets your multiplier, making high scores hard to come by. A shield deflects foes with a tap but it’s slow to recharge, meaning barrages are best avoided altogether – even if it means missing out on a beat or two.
One senses, however, that mastery isn’t the real priority. An intuitive level editor allows players to create and share their own musical journeys, with each world offering a fresh pack of instruments to experiment with. The lack of instruction here is telling: Lucky Frame wants people to discover the joy of making music for themselves, and this stylish and entertaining curio represents a fine place to do so.