Starwhal, as strange as that name is, fell into this writer’s lap seemingly out of nowhere. The game originally launch on Steam for the PC and Mac on September 29, 2014. A new version for the PS4 just launched last week with a few upgrades. So like a space narwhal jumping into a sea of stars, let’s dive right in.
The game can best be described as a local multiplayer versus game. Players can customize their creature with a variety colors, objects, and costumes. Want to be a ballerina with a beard, or cosplay as a generic Mega Man with bacon for a body? Done. After that, all hell breaks loose in four different modes: Classic, Hearth Throb, Score Attack, and Zones.
Classic pits 2-4 players in an arena with the object of killing the other space narwhals by stabbing their colorful heart. Score Attack is virtually the same except with a killing goal. Zone is like King of the Hill, and Heart Throb can be best described as Juggernaut. At the end of the day, it’s all about killing each other and Classic is just, well, classic.
As for the gameplay, the controls are similar to the flash game QWOP in that it’s like walking blindfolded with legs made out of jelly. Once players are endangered of being stabbed, the game slows down and zooms in on the action to give the defender a chance to dodge, which harkens back to another game, Pac-Man Championship Edition. Stylistically, Starwhal is like a 80s rendition of the future. Bright neon and popping synths render each arena with pizazz. It can be a little intense at first, especially will some crazy narwhal combinations but eyes do tend to adjust.
While there are single player challenges, the real fun is sitting on the couch with a few friends. Hearing the screams of everyone close by makes the action that much more intense. One could call the controls bad, but like QWOP, it makes Starwhal more of visceral experience. It may lack a lasting appeal initially, but it’s one of those games that are excellent to pop out now and again at a party.
Score: 3/5 Stars
Special Notes: The publisher provided a review code for the game. This article was originally published on March 1, 2015 via my Examiner account before the website shut down. Check out the supporting video review on the accompanying YouTube Channel, ReActionExaminer.