Hailed by customer reviews as “a modern masterpiece,” and “the epitome of every piece of software that has been or will be developed,” Whale Trail is a little-known app created by Ustwo that is sure to soon glide into popularity. The game is essentially a more complicated version of 2011’s Tiny Wings, but rather than playing as a multi-colored bird, you play as Willow, a blue whale.
When you first open the app and select “play,” you’re given Willow’s backstory. One day while swimming in the ocean, Willow encounters a vicious monster, Baron Von Barry, who is appropriately tentacled and evil-looking. To avoid the monster, Willow follows a rainbow out of the ocean and into the sky, where the Baron can’t go.
In terms of gameplay, each game begins with Willow soaring into the sky from the ocean, propelled by her “whale trail.” The whale trail is the whale’s fuel and what keeps her airborne. To stay in the sky and away from the Baron, Willow must collect the different colored bubbles arranged in a path in the sky which turn into her whale trail. All the while, Willow can either soar or plummet depending on how long you keep your finger on the screen.
Each game ends whenever Willow falls back into the ocean, which can be prompted by several things: Willow’s whale trail running out, running into frown-faced storm clouds or simply letting her fall by removing your finger from the screen for too long. Interspersed with the bubbles are also frenzy stars, when if Willow collects seven of them, can activate a short-lived “frenzy mode” where she can destroy clouds and fly without needing to collect bubbles.
The goal of the game is simple: collect enough bubbles so that Willow can stay alive, while also earning “krill” along the way. Krill is Whale Trail’s form of currency which can be used to buy in-game power ups or different costumes for Willow.
Whale Trail is a game that, despite its appearance, takes a while to become skilled at. The game only ends upon Willow’s (presumed) death, and can then just be replayed. This gives the player a chance to hone their Whale Trail skills and improve.
The game has several highlights. One of the biggest draws for Whale Trail is its artwork, which was the main reason I downloaded it in the first place. Unlike Tiny Wings’ watercolor hills, Whale Trail uses bright, vibrant splashes of color. The game’s background is very mellow, which allows the colors to pop. Willow herself and all of the whale costumes are pretty adorable as well.
What is probably the best part of Whale Trail is the music; composed and sung by Gruff Rhys, the app’s theme channels both the Beatles and a modern nursery rhyme. The music complements the game perfectly, both having a fun, pop-culture vibe.
Whale Trail, which is currently available in the App Store for $2.99 (as well as in the Android store), is well worth the price. While the Tiny Wings craze has certainly died down, I can easily see Whale Trail usurping the throne (held right now by Flappy Bird). Its simple, nearly mindless gameplay doesn’t really set it apart, but the added power ups, currency and villains are what make it unique.
If anything, I would say to ditch Flappy Bird, Tiny Wings and Angry Birds and take a ride on the whale trail.
Listen to the Whale Trail soundtrack below.