Remember that really awesome song from Weebl’s Stuff that proclaims that narwhals “have a kick-ass facial horn, they’re the Jedi of the sea,” and “they stop Cthulhu eating ye”? This month, the Alpha Gamer has found a game that lets players take control of these beautiful creatures IN SPACE. It’s called Starwhal: Just the Tip and it is a fantastic game to bring to a party and possibly ruin friendships with.
A deceptively simple-looking game on the outside, Starwhal puts a new “fin” on the arena combat multiplayer. Players take control of a majestic Starwhal and are tasked with only one thing: PIERCE THE HEART; the only problematic (read: amazing) thing is that the Starwhals are quite difficult to control and maneuver. There lies the grace and splendor of the entire game! Difficult controls turns into fun, bizarre, and utterly chaotic gameplay with plenty of close calls and intense moments fueled by pure adrenaline and concentration. Depending on the settings chosen, games can be extremely tense sudden-death showdowns or nail-bitingly chaotic races to whittle down the three or five lives of your opponents.
Quite possibly the most important aspect of the game, the controls are easy to learn and very difficult to master. Players need only three buttons depending on their choice of controllers (gamepads or one of two sides of a keyboard); one button accelerates the Starwhal forward while the other two rotate it left or right. The rate at which the Starwhal turns left or right is quite ridiculous and so most new players will end up hilariously spinning around and around while trying to destroy their friends. The great thing about this game is that the general sense of flailing about is a good thing; you don’t need to have the tightest and most precise controls to have a good time in a good game.
In case the normal amount of chaos and death isn’t enough for gamers, Starwhal does have a few different game modes to change things up; with the game in Steam Early Access, there is already promise of more to come as well. For the most part, the available game modes are standard fare in multiplayer games: Standard lets players duke it out to the final breath with one, three, or five lives as well as a tournament standard mode; Score Attack challenges player to race to a set score or score as many hits in a set amount of time; Zones is essentially a king-of-the-hill mode where players must touch orbs to establish control over one of many areas and earn points; and Heart Throb, the game’s version of keep-away, where only the player in control of the heart earns points. In addition to a solid amount of game modes, Starwhal features four different levels; each level features different variations such as ones that place breakable blocks of ice that can be used for cover or others that dump a crazy amount of balls into the arena.
One thing I really like about Starwhal is how much it looks like those campy 80’s movies that try to envision the future. Much like Fry Cry 3: Blood Dragon, Starwhal has lots of neon, bright colors, and great music; it’s like you really are in the future and riding narwhals in space! Speaking of Starwhal’s looks, the game allows players to “customize” their Starwhal through various costumes, nose replacements, and even the inclusion of the Achievement Hunters as riders; this can lead to some pretty interesting combinations.
All-in-all, Starwhal: Just the Tip is a fun, quick, and intense game that is well suited for gamers that love to show off their games at parties. The only real complaint I have with the game is the lack of online multiplayer; this just means that players will need to grab their local friends if they want to have a fun time playing. Starwhal: Just the Tip receives the Alpha Gamer Seal of Approval and can be found on Steam for $9.99. Get it before the upcoming final release in the coming months and support this great indie game!