Rob Hale, the solo developer behind twin-stick shooter series Waves, passed away earlier this month. Fans of the series have since flooded the series’ reviews sections with a community-wide outpouring of support, condolences, and other messages praising Hale’s work.
Waves first came out in 2011, and gained modest buzz as an engaging, competent top-town twin-stick shooter with striking neon visuals. The second game, Waves 2: Notorious, launched in early access in 2015, building on the foundation of what made its predecessor stand out. Waves 2 has since received a slew of updates over the years, though it remains in an early access state. Both games were released under Squid in a Box, the moniker for Hale’s work as a solo developer.
Last week, Hale’s partner CJ published the “final” update on Steam regarding Waves 2, noting that Hale had passed away a few weeks prior due to complications stemming from cancer. Following Hale’s passing, both Waves and Waves 2: Notorious are free on Steam.
“This was something Rob was considering anyway within the past two months as their health entered into more substantial difficulties,” CJ wrote. “I hope this can be seen as a parting gift to all those out there that haven’t yet played either of these games.”
Over the past week, fans of Waves have published a slew of positive reviews on the Steam pages for both games. (Waves and Waves 2 both sported “very positive” ratings prior to Hale’s death.)
“This game is one of the best feeling arcade-like games I have played,” one player wrote. “Rob, you have done an amazing job and have gifted it to us all at no cost. Thank you for your work—rest in peace, and much love for your family. We will all be sure to look over and safeguard your legacy here.”
“May Rob rest in peace, and [fuck] cancer,” wrote another. “You left behind a legacy that fellow gamers like myself will remember for years. Your spirit will live on.”
“The gaming world has lost [a] great indie game dev. RIP Rob,” said another. “You’ve given the gaming world a great game, or well two, but I haven’t played the second one. Waves was amazing all these years ago, now more people can enjoy this great addition to their Steam library—and they should.”
That’s just a sampling; many more messages across the Steam review pages for both games are of a similar ilk. So often, at least in the gaming space, when a game suddenly accrues a number of reviews in short succession, it’s negative—the bad-faith collective action known as “review bombing.” This is the total opposite scenario.
“I hope all of you out there, whoever you are and however Rob’s games have reached you, that you can at the very least hold a special place for the Waves games,” CJ wrote. “But most of all I hope that you can continue to feel the passion and love that Rob poured into these games long after the pain of their passing begins to fade.”