Whale Trail is a collaboration between UK developer ustwo and Super Furry Animals singer Gruff Rhys, who contributed to the soundtrack. Willow the Whale has escaped the clutches of the evil Baron Von Barry and is flying away to freedom through a strange and wonderful world of rainbows, rainclouds and multi-coloured whimsy.
Gobbling up Blubbles dropped by multicoloured 'goodies', Willow must flee Barry's grasping tendrils and dodge the Thunder Bros. while extending his Whale Trail to stay aloft.
It plays like a dream. This is not a metaphor -- it literally plays like someone plugged a camera into our head after a particularly cheese-based supper and motion-captured the results.
...But of course, you want to know about actual gameplay. Happily, that is great too. The game is controlled with just one finger -- tap to make Willow fly (swim?) upwards and release to let gravity pull you down, tap and hold to loop-the-loop.
As you swoop around you need to collect Blubbles, the multicoloured bubbles that act as fuel for your flight. Run out of Blubble power and down you plummet. Drop off the bottom of the screen and Baron Von Barry will rise up to claim you -- and you don't want that.
Also out to get you are the Thunder Bros. These malevolent rain clouds frown and grimace at you as you fly past and will give you a blubble-draining electric shock if you fly into them. Unless, that is, you are in a Frenzy. You can enter a state of Frenzy by collecting the
star power-ups that float alongside the Blubbles. Collect enough and you become temporarily invulnerable and can rush headlong through the thunderclouds, bursting them with a satisfying pop.
While in Frenzy mode you also acquire the ability to hoover up Blubbles just by flying close to them, something that comes in extra handy when one of seven Goodies floats into view. The Goodies are giant heads that spew a helpful trail of Blubbles for you to gobble up. Getting every single Blubble a Goodie throws up is just one of the many achievements that you can unlock, along with awards for distance flying, minimal touches and other tricky feats.
The one-touch controls use the same principle as games like SF Cave or (reversed) Tiny Wings but Whale Trail is one of the best implementations we have seen. Everything just flows and it is amazing how in control you feel with just one finger stabbing at the screen.
It looks amazing -- psychedelic, playful and whimsical and above all beautifully animated. Whale Trail isn't going to absorb you for hours at a time but it is a great game to dip into casually, and among the colourful capers there is a very addictive test of skill that will keep you coming back for more.
The soundtrack was another highlight for us. The instrumental version of the Whale Trail song that Gruff Rhys penned plays constantly (we recomend checking out the version with lyrics too) although we could easily see that being less appealing if you aren't a fan.
At only 69p, Whale Trail is great value. A tremendously fun game that will appeal to kids and adults alike.
Whale Trail is available from the App Store for the iPhone and iPad, for 69p.