Starwhal will probably be the first time you get to play as a Narwhal which is a unique combination of what appears to be a whale and a dolphin with a unicorn horn.
You may think these creatures are made up but nope they do exist and through Starwhal you get a chance to play as one. You may ask why the game that features them is called Starwhal, well these aren’t no everyday Narwhals you are encountering, these are Narwhals from outer space.
Starwhal is a simple premise to play, use your Starwhal horn to pop the beating hearts of the other Starwhals that inhabit the arena whilst achieving that particular levels aim. Bear in mind you have your own heart to protect which unfortunately is pretty easy to hit because unlike Narwhals, Starwhals have a heart that appears to be positioned outside of the body! Starwhals are not the easiest to control, all you can basically do is move left and right whilst flipping at the right time to get you where you want to be or get you away from another Starwhal.
Starwhal has a single player mode but it pales in comparison to the multiplayer mayhem on offer. Starwhal has four multiplayer modes to meddle with. They range from capturing zones that score points and stabbing other Starwhals to reduce their lives. Effectively though they pretty much play out the same way. The controls are what makes Starwhal either frustrating stupid to play or manically fun to get to grips with. So when you have four people flipping frantically trying to hit a target, actually hitting the target after five minutes flipping only for them to fall further back whilst someone else nips in and hits the target is a joy to behold but also an absolute pain in the Starwhal depending how well your Starwhal is doing.
You could argue that due to the lack of control of your Starwhals that you end up with a bit of a random experience, which is partly true but that part of what makes Starwhal fun. The single player mode is somewhat of a let down, it’s nowhere near as fun even though the developers have tried to mix up the levels, it’s just not as entertaining as beating your mates no matter how hard the AI Starwhals try.
The levels have a very retro 80s sci-fi feel to them. They are quite varied as they include lava getting in your way, blocks of ice breaking randomly through a level and the environment changing constantly so each level comes across as a new experience.
The graphics are very simple but this at least lets you not get confused with whose Starwhal is who. The playable Starwhals are very customisable with plenty of choices to choose from prior to going into battle. Unfortunately for Starwhal there’s no option to save the Starwhals you create so you have to start afresh each time, which can be very time confusing depending how much thought you put into it. Musically the score sets the tone with a high tempo beat, you’ll probably end up not hearing it as you and your friends shout at your beleaguered Starwhals and their inability to flip to your commands!
Starwhal is a simple game that on one hand is a very enjoyable multiplayer experience but there is a lack of depth and redundant single player mode which holds back what could have been a very good game. If you fancy a unique and random multiplayer experience then give Starwhal a go, it has some charm but not enough to make it a must have.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Sony Playstation 3 code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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