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Review: Starwhal

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Narwhals will never be the same

Even though narwhals look like some sort of bastardized version of a dolphin and unicorn, they are actually whales -- hence the name narWHAL. However, the horn that gives most narwhals their distinctive look is mainly associated with males of the species. Sorry, it's a guy thing.

In Starwhal, that tusk is your key to everything. In the game's chaotic and seemingly random moments, paying close attention to your tusk can be your only sign of refuge.

Starwhal (PC, PS4 [reviewed], PS3)
Developer: Breakfall
Publisher: Breakfall
Released: March 3, 2015
MSRP: $11.99

Released last year on Steam, this floppy space unicorn sex simulator is now available on PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 3. Be forewarned, the game will test your patience -- and possibly your friendships. But there's a trick to that. Even though it is mainly a local multiplayer cream dream, the single-player side actually does a fantastic (if not controller-throwing) job of getting the player used to the unique controls and movements of the majestic space narwhal.

The mechanics are tricky in Starwhal. If you go in thinking you know what to do because you're so fucking good at videogames, it will quickly let you know this isn't so easy to pick up and play and master. The game takes patience and a willingness to get through the slog of its learning curve.

In single-player, you'll find different challenge modes to put you through the paces of the various skills you will need to master to show off in front of your friends in the multiplayer mode. If you want to kick their ass, then do not skip this mode.

You will quickly notice that the game mechanics feel very similar to Trials. Even though you're in a somewhat free-flowing space, your use of the the thrust button and the left stick -- knowing when to accelerate your narwhal or spin it in the right direction -- is key to success.

It's a challenge. And if you love the challenge of Trials, then I see no reason why you wouldn't enjoy the gameplay in Starwhal. It's essentially the same.

But really, single-player is a warm up for what the game is truly about: local multiplayer. Even if no one knows what they're doing, the different modes and overall experience will bring plenty of laughs and tears -- tears for when you are just at your wits' end of trying to figure it all out.

That's where the difficulty in Starwhal lies -- figuring it out. It's one of those games you just play and play until suddenly, bam, you get it. And just like any challenging game, once you think you've got it figured out, bam, you don't. Something else will get thrown at you and you'll have to overcome some other obstacle you once thought was impossible.

To lessen the difficulty blow, Breakfall does a good job of oozing charm through every aspect of Starwhal. There are numerous costume combinations to choose from for your narwhal and the environments can be hypnotizing. The color schemes will remind some of an explosion of Lisa Frank stickers in a Geometry Wars environment.

If you're looking for a quality local co-op title at a reasonable price for your PS4 or PS3, then this may be the type of game for you. However, if you or your partners get easily frustrated, you may find its initial challenge to be too much of a hump to get over. But once you do, it's worth it.

Because of the mechanics and varied modes, you're not going to run out of those awkward funny moments. Whether it be spearing a player in their narwhal ass or dry humping in space for an entire round, Starwhal will provide the thrills -- so long as you're willing to take the ride.

[This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]

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STARWHAL reviewed by Robert Summa

8

GREAT

Impressive effort with a few noticeable problems holding it back. Won't astound everyone, but is worth your time and cash.
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Robert Summa
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