I’ve been playing a good amount of Gutwhale recently, and I can’t get my head around it. This game has a lot going for it, but it’s mostly what I see as a frustrating mess that feels as though it wasn’t tested enough before being released. There are good points and bad points, but there’s one common complaint that I want to get out of the way first. It’s only about 40 minutes long. If you play and persevere through the frustration, you can finish this game in under an hour. There is some replayability, but even that isn’t massive, so I have to question what the point of it is.
In Gutwhale, you’re playing as a dude with a gun. You have a few hats that change up how high and long you can jump, the points you earn, or transform all enemies into frogs. The gameplay loop is the same though, fight through three levels made up of about five floors each to get to the end. Each floor disappears when you kill an enemy, and you drop immediately into the next one. You have to strategies your positions in each floor, and then take a break at the end of levels to make sure that you’re calm enough for the next one.
The floors are randomly generated, which is what makes this game so replayable. However, some of the floor generations are mental. They’ll drop you into areas between enemies that it’s impossible to get out of. The enemies get more challenging as you go through the floors, and by the end it’s almost impossible to fight them if the floor layout isn’t just right. Many times I felt like I could have succeeded if the floor layout was different.
The game feels like it’s meant to be similar to The Binding of Isaac, with many item combinations to use. In reality, it’s just a platformer that you have to bang your head against for an hour before you can finally put it down and say you’re done. I don’t understand the point of this game, and I’m a bit disappointed that it has so many great reviews.