'Starwhal' Will Stab You In The Heart With Awesomeness
March 2, 2015
The inherent competitive nature of video games can bring out the best, and worst, in people. Since the very beginning of games, people have been doing whatever they can to beat their friends, foes, family… whoever at the challenges presented to them. After millennia of battles, it's fair to say that people just want to win, no matter what the game is, and the sense of satisfaction and bragging rights that come along with taking the top prize can sometimes be all the motivation one needs to play. Case in point: Starwhal, a game where you use a space narwhal's tusk to stab other narwhals in the heart, and whoever pierces the most hearts win. It's just as weird as it sounds, but it's also pretty wonderful.
Breakfall is a small, indie studio in Canada that has a few small titles under their belt, but Starwhal marks their first, major (read: console) release. Starwhal, like a handful of Breakfall's other titles, was the product of a game jam in 2013, and, with the help of a successful Kickstarter campaign, became a full-fledged release.
Starwhal is about narwhals in space stabbing each other. The core concept is very simple, but the physics and the controls level the playing field, making every match of Starwhal anyone's game. In each round of play, you're floating around one of the game's 25 different levels, waiting for the right time to swoop in, and strike with your pointy tusk. Between 2 and 4 players can enjoy the local, competitive play across four different versus modes - Classic, Score Attack, Zones, and Heart Throb. Solo narwhals can take on Starwhal's challenge levels, that put your ability to navigate an awkward whale with a giant horn-thing sticking out of it around a board full of obstacles, or try to hit a series of targets within a time limit. The game also features oodles of customization options, from the color of your narwhal, to what it's wearing on its head and body. There are thousands of different combinations that make for some pretty hilarious match ups.
The colorful assortment of narwhals in Starwhal have been available on Steam for a few months now, but Breakfall have finally released the game on PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4. There is also a Wii U release looming sometime in the near future, but if you want to jump on the game with a couple of your friends today, you'll need to own one of Sony's consoles, or a PC.
Over the last couple of years there has been a trend where indie game developers have been releasing these really amazing, outside the box games, and Starwhal is the latest title on that list. There's a pretty good chance that you've never played a game as a narwhal, and there's an even better chance that you've never played a game as a narwhal in space: that's pretty much what Breakfall are banking on with Starwhal. It doesn't take long to realize that this is clearly a game that doesn't take itself too seriously, and that's a great thing. It's a quirky title that finds a really interesting niche for gamers that want to virtually stab their friends in the heart. While the controls may take a little getting used to (but that's half the fun), and it's a shame that there's no online play, Starwhal crafts a special experience for friends to sit down on the couch together and compete with each other. Anyone that has spent hours playing Mario Kart, NBA Jam, GoldenEye, or any of the other classic, local competitive games will feel right at home trying to best their friends with their bearded, purple narwhal wearing a burrito in Starwhal.