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Starwhal: Just The Tip – Early Access Review

By Nathaniel Liles

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Balls galore here in the ball pit.
Balls galore here in the ball pit.

Starwhal: Just the Tip is the single most fun multiplayer experience I’ve had since my days of playing split-screen Twisted Metal in my bedroom. In a world that is slowly forgetting about how important local multiplayer can be, Starwhal is a bright, flamboyant, gloriously incandescent reminder of why we love playing multiplayer, and its pick-up-and-play nature and limitless tail-smacking fun will bring you right back to those bright and awesome times. I don’t know about you guys, but some of the most fun moments I’ve ever had playing multiplayer have been those moments when I was within battering distance of the person I just pwned, and Starwhal brings it all back. Relive the cursing, face-smacking, call-the-cops loud camaraderie of truly fun local multiplayer in Starwhal: Just the Tip.

That wall of ice doesn't stand a chance against four flailing Starwhals!
That wall of ice doesn’t stand a chance against four flailing Starwhals!

I played the demo plenty of times in anticipation of this game, and when I finally received this golden gift, I was all riled up like a little boy who just got the best dang chicken tenders in the world. The game revolves around two things: Your horn and your heart, and you goal is to stab your opponent in the heart while protecting your own. You have two means of doing this: accelerating and rotating your Starwhal in the 2D battlefield, and while it may seem incredibly simple and straightforward, mastering the various parries and thrusts you can perform will make you feel more and more badass with every round. Introduced in the Steam version, however, are new environmental dynamics. Some of these new twists are simply larger, smaller, or oddly shaped battlefields, and while those alone spice the gameplay up more than you’d think, there are; other factors. One of them is balls, and you can only find these balls on a special stage called… Balls Deep.

Those tunnels are not the place to be it you're low on health.
Those tunnels are not the place to be it you’re low on health.

“How does this magnificent game look?” you ask, eyes and lips glistening in the bright illumination of Starwhal: Just the Tip. “Well,” I respond, chest hair blowing in the wind, “There’s only one graphical setting: Radical.” I’m not kidding, ladies and menfolk, when you fire up the game, you choose your resolution and your graphical quality, and there’s only one option. And it’s radical. That, my friends, is the most apt description of this game’s aesthetics I could possibly imagine. Everything is neon, and when it’s not neon, it’s a giant space-Kraken swallowing a planet in the background. Your horns glow, your heart throbs, and your tail makes satisfying impact with surfaces and foes alike. The environmental neon flashes in response to your jarring bound.

Having four Starwhals in this small a space is just madness.
Having four Starwhals in this small a space is just madness.

Buy this game. It is an incredible multiplayer experience and it’s only going to get better as more and more content is added. You can even dress your Starwhal up in a variety of pop-culture inspired gear. Want Jayne’s hat from Firefly? Slap it on a Starwhal. Want a fez? Starwhal can facilitate that desire. Want to be ridden by Geoff, Gavin, Michael, or any of the main Achievement Hunter crew? Well, sorry folks, that’s not in the game; wait, yes, as a matter of fact, it is. They’re like little astronauts and they ride your neon ass into battle. I cannot say it enough, pick this game up someday really soon, invite your friends over, and enjoy some frantic 4-player chaos: two people on the keyboard and two with controllers.

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Game Info

Game : Starwhal: Just The Tip

Developer : Breakfall

Platforms : Win / Mac

Current Status : Early Access

Nathaniel Liles
Nathaniel Liles is a freelance writer, writing major, and indie musician based in Southern Indiana. While procrastinating or avoiding real-world responsibility, Nathaniel enjoys playing rhythm games, action RPGs, and very colorful games with many bright, flashing lights. You can listen to Nathaniel sing songs or download his music for free at http://nathanielliles.bandcamp.com/.
Nathaniel Liles