Descend deep down into the gut!
Indies have an innate ability to capture a successful play mechanic and spin them into full games. Gutwhale looks to take the panic of “One in the Chamber” and task players with surviving, well, the gut of a whale. Does this plucky bitesize title serve up enough fun for your $5/£4.99? Join us as we dive a little deeper.
Ratalaika Games is no stranger to the Nintendo eShop. While the publisher has certainly produced quantity the quality has often come into question. Rest assured Gutwhale is the latter. Players assume the role of a nameless protagonist who has inexplicably found themselves in a re-enactment of the Jonah story, for our Bible readers. Don’t let the lack of story deter you, Gutwhales true storytelling is in the rogue adventure you the player create yourself.
Finite action roguelike
Control-wise, Gutwhale is as simple as they come. A jump and a trigger meshed with some left thumbstick movement and you know all there is to about this bite-sized title. Players can shoot left, right, and down as they descend further and further down the digestive tract of this whale. Each single-screen interaction tasks the players with eliminating and randomly generated enemies on a randomly generated level.
The controls are responsive and smooth which bodes well for the combat. As mentioned earlier the gameplay is focused on single bullet play. The player can fire a single shot but must retrieve their bullet in order to fire again. Balancing enemy patterns with your distance and spacing can lead to some tense moments as you push further and further. Along the way down the 3 levels, you will collect a bit of loot that you can in turn spend on hats or extra ammo in the oddly placed shops between stages. The hats offer different perks from extra lives (represented as hearts) to extra shells or even higher jumping.
Visually, Gutwhale is the typical chunky pixel indie title. Players familiar with the art style of the Gonner series will be hard-pressed not to think this is is a sequel. Enemy variety is minimal. The same can be said for the levels themselves. Your eyes will not well up due to beauty, nor will they due to ugliness. Everything on offer is just a little “whatever”. That being said, it’s not a bad thing. Everything is visible and distinct. The player won’t find themselves getting stuck on geometry that blends into the background.
Audio-wise, the results are the same. The minimalistic approach suits the title well. While a killer soundtrack certainly could have elevated the title, the lack of one doesn’t detract either.
Small indie releases certainly have their place on consoles. The Nintendo Switch has embraced this and as a result, tiny experiences like this can be enjoyed by anyone. Gutwhale is a fun palette cleanser of a game. The never-ending random generation guarantees that each run is unique as you learn to dance around the innards of the titular whale. Rest assured exiting the whale is only just the beginning. A handful of secrets and an endless mode should ensure fun for many hours.
Review code provided
Platform: PC, PlayStation, Xbox, Nintendo
Release Date: 21/05/2021
No. of Players: 1
Category: Action, Platformer, Shooter
Developer: Stuffed Wombat
Publisher: Ratalaika Games
Download link: US eShop / UK eShop