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Gutwhale Review

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Fast Facts

Developer: Stuffed Wombat
Publisher: Ratalaika Games
Website: https://stuffedwombat.itch.io/gutwhale
Genre: Roguelike, Shooter
Platform: PlayStation 5 (Also available on PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, Xbox Series S/X)
Age Rating: PEGI 16
Release Date: 21/05/2021
Price: £3.99

A code was provided for review purposes.

Guts for Garters

Gutwhale is a small roguelike with very few levels, not much replay value and a slim amount of content. However, I rather enjoyed myself while playing. Weird, I know. Not as weird as the game or its name though, I mean, Gutwhale? Come on! I got from start to platinum trophy in about an hour. I must have enjoyed myself with the PlayStation 5 version because I then installed the PlayStation 4 version just after and did it all again.

The actual gameplay of Gutwhale is rather fun. You descend further and further into the guts of the whale, killing everything on screen to drop to the next. Sounds easy I know, but what makes the game different is you only start with one bullet and must retrieve it before you can fire again. Also, if you catch the bullet before it hits the floor, you can increase your combo score, in a sort of weird game of murder bullet-ridden keepy-uppys. 

Gutwhale image of two evil frogs jumping towards the player character who is holding a shotgun.
FROOOOGS!

Endless Death

Anyone who has played a roguelike will know the drill. If you die, you start over, and throughout your journey, you can purchase upgrades. The levels and enemy placements are procedural, so every run is slightly different in Gutwhale. Though, this is not as substantial as other roguelikes due to its limited range of content. There are only three levels and a handful of enemies, so it will not take you long to see it all. Whereas something like The Binding of Isaac, where I still see new things hundreds of hours later.

You can spend your hard-earned coinage on upgrades such as extra bullets, more health, or new hats. Who doesn’t like a hat? I certainly do. Talking of hats, at the start of every run you can choose between three hats that slightly change your stats. There is also an unlockable one you can permanently unlock by feeding your bullets’ to the end of level frog. I know, the game just gets weirder, but I like that about it. I like weird and it’s normally in little indie offerings that we get to see the weird stuff, which is another reason I love indie games. They are not afraid to push the proverbial boat out, so to speak.

Massive frog opening its mouth while the player is turned away from the frog looking at the wall, where a passage has opened up.
Shut your gob!

A Bitesized Distraction

Gutwhale controls tight enough for a game like this anyway. Everything acted as it should, I always felt in control and was never hampered by a bad control scheme or inadequate responsiveness. The graphics are serviceable if a little basic. Don’t get me wrong, I am no graphics snob, but I would have liked something a bit more unique or interesting. What we have though is not bad by any means. It’s the same story with the sound. While being good enough, it was never memorable, uplifting, or novel in any way. Which to be fair, for the game price point, is to be expected.

Overall, yes, Gutwhale may be short. Yes, it may be a bit basic, but the gameplay is quite entertaining. I mean I have just come from playing one of the best roguelikes I have ever played in Returnal, but I still enjoyed this. It is compact and lacks any real depth, but sometimes that is what you want. I played while watching other things on the TV, and it kept me entertained for an hour or so. So in my opinion, it can’t be too bad. Still not sure what the game is about, but I do know it’s weird, which is something I can get behind.

Rapid Reviews Rating

If you would like to buy Gutwhale from the PlayStation Store, you can here.

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